The Toronto Film Festival isn’t just an essential stop for Oscar hopefuls. There’s also an active film market that results in plenty of all-night bidding wars. This year, studios and distributors will make the trek across the border, on the hunt for films that can be arthouse hits or awards winners. Here are 12 films that will have companies breaking out their checkbooks.
Sales Agent: WME, CAA (U.S.), Bloom (International)
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Ben Foster
Why Buyers Are Circling: This Western tops the list of distributors making the trip up North, because Bale is one of the few actors who can draw crowds. His last effort with Cooper, the gritty crime drama “Out of the Furnace,” was more admired than watched, but Bale’s involvement guarantees that screenings will be packed. Strong reviews out of Telluride, where it bowed last weekend, will only drive up the price.
Sales Agent: CAA, UTA (U.S.), Sierra/Affinity (International)
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
Why Buyers Are Circling: Rocking a ‘90s hairdo, Robbie is out to prove she’s got real acting chops by playing Tonya Harding, the most infamous figure skater in the world. The film chronicles the tabloid scandal that erupted after Harding’s ex-husband hired someone to attack her rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
Sales Agent: CAA, WME (U.S.), Embankment (International)
Director: Björn Runge
Cast: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce
Why Buyers Are Circling: This adaptation of Meg Wolitzer’s best-seller positively drips with prestige. Close plays a woman who leaves her husband on the eve of his Nobel Prize speech. Call it a “leave cute” story.
WOMAN WALKS AHEAD
Sales Agents: CAA (U.S.), IM Global (International)
Director: Susanna White
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Sam Rockwell, Bill Camp
Why Buyers Are Circling: Another star turn for Chastain, who plays a widowed artist in the 1880s, who embraces the cause of the Native Americans after painting Sitting Bull’s portrait.
THE CHILDREN ACT
Sales Agent: FilmNation Entertainment, CAA
Director: Richard Eyre
Cast: Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Fionn Whitehead
Why Buyers Are Circling: It’s Thompson’s show. Her role as a judge who must decide if a teenage boy, should be forced to violate his religious principles in order to undergo a life-saving medical procedure, is her meatiest since “Saving Mr. Banks.” Added bonus: Whitehead has a lot of heat coming off his starring role in “Dunkirk.”
ON CHESIL BEACH
Sales Agents: CAA (U.S.), Rocket Science (International)
Director: Dominic Cooke
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Anne-Marie Duff, Adrian Scarborough, Emily Watson,
Why Buyers Are Circling: Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” was an Oscar-nominated smash. “On Chesil Beach,” based on another acclaimed novel by the author, also has the markings of a prestige hit. It centers on a series of sexual misadventures that derail a young couple’s honeymoon.
Sales Agents: UTA (U.S.), HanWay Films (International)
Cast: Bel Powley, Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth and Tom Sturridge
Director: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Why Buyers Are Circling: This true-life tale explores how a personal tragedy inspired Mary Shelley to write “Frankenstein.” Fanning has threatened to break out in a big way for years. This could be the role that makes her a household name.
Director: Saul Dibb
Cast: Sam Claflin Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge, and Paul Bettany,
Sales Agents: CAA (U.S.), Metro International Entertainment (International)
Why Buyers Are Circling: A who’s who cast of Hollywood up-and-comers could have studios salivating. The drama about officers on the front-lines of World War I-era France also promises to have an epic sweep that could make it more marketable.
Sales Agent: ICM
Director: Joseph Kahn
Cast: Calum Worthy, Jackie Long, Dizaster, Rory Uphold
Why Buyers Are Circling: Satire set in the world of battle rappers has a cushy opening night slot. Plus, Eminem, perhaps the most famous poetic put-downer in history, produces. One word of caution: “Patti Cake$,” another comedy about an unlikely rapper, was a Sundance hit that failed to ignite at the box office.
THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR
Sales Agents: ICM, Wide House
Director: Nancy Buirski
Why Buyers Are Circling: In 1944, a young black woman had the courage to speak up after being gang raped despite living in Jim Crow South. This incendiary documentary gives a genuine American hero the recognition she deserves.
Sales agents: FilmNation Entertainment & WME
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Rachel McAdams, Alessandro Nivola
Why Buyers Are Circling: A lesbian romance set in the world of Orthodox Judiasm.
THE FINAL YEAR
Sales Agent: John Battsek, Julie Goldman
Director: Greg Barker
Why Buyers Are Circling: The movie business isn’t filled with Trump fans. “The Final Year” serves as a welcome slice of nostalgia for the Obama years. The documentary looks at president 44’s final 12 months in the White House with supporting turns by the likes of John Kerry and Samantha Power. Watch it and temporarily forget about our reality star in chief.