Films by Joe Wright, Angelina Jolie, Darren Aronofsky, George Clooney, and Alexander Payne will hit the Toronto International Film Festival, hoping to build buzz as they head into a crowded awards season.
Jolie will be on hand with “￼￼First They Killed My Father,” a drama about the Cambodian genocide that she made for Netflix. Aronofsky will present “mother!,” a horror film he made with Jennifer Lawrence; Clooney will offer up “Suburbicon,” a Coen brothers’ scripted crime comedy; and Payne is presenting “Downsizing,” a satire in which Matt Damon will shrink to the size of a saltine cracker.
None of those films will get gala presentations, however. That’s either because they have previously stated that they will premiere at other film festivals — “Downsizing” will bow at Venice, for instance — or they’re in line for a Telluride or Venice berth.
The gala section boasts Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” a biopic with a heavily padded Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill; Andy Serkis’ “Breathe,” a romantic drama with Andrew Garfield as disability rights advocate Robin Cavendish; and “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” a drama about Gloria Grahame’s last years with Annette Bening as the Oscar winner. Other films premiering at Toronto include “Kings,” a film about the L.A. riots with Daniel Craig, and “Stronger,” a Jake Gyllenhaal drama about a man who loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Mudbound,” a historical drama about a black and white family living in an impoverished section of the Deep South, debuted to raves and standing ovations at the Sundance Film Festival. Despite already having a world premiere, it will be screened as part of the gala events.
The Canadian festival takes place between Sept. 7 to Sept. 17. It is seen as an essential stop for films hoping to score with Academy Awards voters, because it has a long track record of highlighting films that go on to awards glory. Previous Best Picture winners such as “Spotlight” and “Moonlight” have boosted their Oscar campaigns after enjoying a warm reception from Toronto crowds. Not every film benefits from a trip North, however. Last year, films such as “American Pastoral” and “Bleed For This” faded quickly after receiving middling reviews at the festival.
With summer winding down, only Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” has emerged as a surefire awards candidate. That means that Oscar-ologists will be dissecting Tuesday’s Toronto announcement as they try to game out what films have what it takes to pick up the big trophies this season.
In recent years, Toronto has been forced to grapple with the fact that it’s no longer the only game in town. The Telluride and Venice film festivals, which have the advantage of appearing earlier in the year, have proved to be attractive launching grounds for buzzy films. In 2016, “La La Land” dazzled critics at Venice, while “Moonlight” first turned heads at Telluride — they went into Toronto as known commodities.
There are a number of other high-profile films heading across the border for this edition of the film festival. Christian Bale will be on hand with his Western “Hostiles,” Guillermo del Toro will try to recapture his mojo with “The Shape of Water” after “Crimson Peak” bombed, and Judi Dench will be on the prowl for Oscar nomination No. 8 for “Victoria and Abdul.” Dench is playing Queen Victoria, a part she previously essayed in 1996’s “Mrs. Brown.”
Several releases have already generated awards attention at previously festivals. “Call Me By Your Name,” a gay romance with a breakout performance from Timothée Chalamet, was the talk of Sundance, while “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” a French drama about the AIDS crisis, was one of the best reviewed movies out of Cannes. Both films will use Toronto to build on that momentum during a brutal, bruising, and ever expanding awards season.
Here’s a full list of films:
The Catcher Was A Spy
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Long Time Running
The Mountain Between Us
Woman Walks Ahead
Battle of the Sexes
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Call Me By Your Name
Catch the Wind
The Current War
The Children Act
A Fantastic Woman
￼￼First They Killed My Father
The Price of Success
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women
A Season in France
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing
Untitled Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart Film
Victoria and Abdul