Top 5 Films to See from the Toronto International Film Festival

You’ll want to keep an eye out on these five films, which are all slated for release by year’s end. 

If you took a look at our Instagram page sometime in the month of September, you might have noticed that 615 Film was posting from the Toronto International Film Festival. Sure enough, I have been attending the fest since September 2014. Returning each year since, I find that the TIFF audiences are the best in the world and the staff that support the festival year-round are some of the most capable and hardworking movie fans in the world.

This year was an an embarrassment of riches for audiences from the World Premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game to Yorgos Lanthimos’ highly anticipated Killing of a Sacred Deer. TIFF’s programming varies from the arthouse and Hollywood circles to even the late night crowds, with the Midnight Madness program that brought James Franco and his cast of The Disaster Artist for a World Premiere at the Ryerson Theater. It was one of the best programs I’ve seen in the 4 years I’ve attended and without fail people ask what they should be looking forward to most, so I have distilled my list into these Top 5…

 

#5 Downsizing (dir. Alexander Payne; Starring Matt Damon)

Alexander Payne’s new film is far more straight comedy than any of his other features. Matt Damon plays the perfect everyman experiencing a whole new lease on life thanks to the newly developed shrinking technology that gives him opportunity to find greater purpose. Hilarious and wonderfully endearing hijinks ensue, and the film never shies away from the more pessimistic shades of a movie about people trying to stave off the apocalypse, but Payne keeps that in check with Damon at the center of it. Suffice it to say, I was all smiles coming out of this one.

Release Date: December 22, 2017

 

#4 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (dir. Martin McDonagh; Starring Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson)

Frances McDormand explodes in this searing black comedy about a small town woman, who puts up three billboards criticizing the local police after daughter’s murder. Woody Harrelson as the Police Chief brings such to a role that simply could have turned into 1 dimension. Sam Rockwell plays the rookie cop, who’s had a violent past, but is mentored by Harrelson’s Chief. In the hands of a lesser actor, it’s an arc that would have fallen apart completely, but with Rockwell he knocks it out of the park. Be looking for him at the Academy Awards in February for Best Supporting Actor. Speaking of the Oscars, be looking for McDonagh in the Original Screenplay category and Mrs. McDormand in the Best Actress categorry.

Release Date: November 10, 2017

#3 The Disaster Artist (dir. James Franco; Starring James Franco, Dave Franco)

Tommy Wiseau’s film The Room is a cult film that will never die. Selling out arthouse screenings all over the world for over 10 years, it has developed a bizarre legend regarding its creation thanks mostly to the mystery surrounding its writer-director Tommy Wiseau: Who the hell is he? The film doesn’t answer this question, just as Tommy never does in Q&As, just as Greg Sistero, his best friend and the author of the book this film is based on, never does either. However, James Franco finds that the best way to tell this story is to show it as authentically as possible. Franco throws on a wig and an accent that never fails to impress. Dave Franco as Greg Sistero, is the spitting image of the actual Greg. Together, they build a remarkable chemistry and pathos for these lovable outcasts trying to make it in Hollywood when everyone tells them to go away. The film is full of laughs as you might expect, but they are never at the expense of the actual people. We are in it with them, so the laughs come from the absurdity of the situations that they get themselves into.

Release Date: December 1, 2017 (Limited); December 8, 2017 (Wide)

 

#2 The Current War (Dir. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon; Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland, Nicholas Hoult)

Featuring the gorgeous cinematography of Chung-Hoon Chung (OldboyIt), it is without doubt, one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen. The production design, costumes, and styling all blend remarkably and glow for the camera. Cumberbatch and Shannon are strong adversaries in this film despite rarely having screen time together. The film’s quick pace perfectly matches the tense and turbulent times depicted on screen, racing against time as Edison (Cumberbatch) and Westinghouse (Shannon) fight to get their electricity across the country. While the script could be punchier, Cumberbatch and Shannon deliver absolutely fantastic performances with the direction of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl).

Release Date: November 24, 2017 (Limited); January 19, 2018 (Wide)

 

#1 Hostiles (Dir. Scott Cooper; Starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi)

Christian Bale returns to work with his Out of the Furnace director Scott Cooper to head West. Bale is an Army officer ordered to escort a dying Cheyenne Chief and his family to their tribal lands. The catch is the Cheyenne Chief used to lead raids on Bale’s units. Forced to travel and protect a man he fought many times on the battlefield and lost many men to, Bale delivers a searing and nuanced portrayal of a man learning to accept his enemy. It is a beautiful performance that is amazing in how quiet and understated Bale plays it, keeping it under the skin. Masanobu Takayanagi’s cinematography of the frontier is breathtaking as well. From the opening sequence, the audience immediately feels like they are a silent member of this unfortunate crew of travelers.

Release Date: December (Limited); January (Wide). Actual dates to be announced soon as this film was picked up for distribution just this week.