By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist September 4, 2012 at 9:57AM
A key pivot point of Oscar-season but also a launching pad for under-the-radar indie features, genre fare, as well as a chance to see festival favorites from other places in the world, no other festival has the depth of program as TIFF does this year, with hundreds of films from all over the world, including more than 100 world premieres. While Telluride only just wrapped up and Venice is still ongoing, the Playlist team are already heading off for Toronto, and to get you ready for our extensive coverage from the festival, we've picked out ten films that we're particularly looking forward to.
We've left out those that have already seen/will be seeing at Telluride and Venice, hence the absence of films like "At Any Price," "Spring Breakers" "The Master" and "To The Wonder." You can read our picks below (note: the dates mark the first screening, check TIFF for additional showtimes) and let us know what you're looking forward to in the comments section below.
Synopsis: Based on the knotty novel by David Mitchell, “Cloud Atlas” tells six interlocking tales tackling everything from a transpacific voyage in 1850 to a 1970s-set conspiracy thriller to a sci-fi parable set deep in the future.
What You Need To Know: If anyone can pull off bringing Mitchell's sprawling novel to the big screen, it just might be the directorial tag team of The Wachowskis and director Tom Tykwer. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Jim Sturgess in multiple roles that cross race and gender, the A-list cast has their work cut out for them to fall into the background of a movie that will be boasting heady visuals and big ideas. Will this film be a bold, ambitious success, a disastrous failure or something else entirely? We'll soon find out.
When? Saturday, September 8th. The film hits theaters on October 26th.
Synopsis: Based on the book by Matthew Quick, the story centers a former high school teacher who, after being released from a four-year stint in a mental institution, moves back in with his mother, then seeks to reinvent himself, finding the titular silver linings in his life.
What You Need To Know: Following on the heels of "The Fighter," the film which finally brought David O. Russell awards season and industry recognition as a Best Director nominee at the Oscars, the curiosity factor around this one is high. Gathering a pretty high wattage cast in Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and, surprisingly, Chris Tucker, The Weinstein Company are hoping that Russell's blend of comedy and drama works the same magic here as it did with his boxing film. Thus far, the film seems to be leaning more toward the former than the latter, but if it becomes a crowd pleaser, you can bet this one will have some serious legs heading into the fall.
When? Saturday, September 8th. The film hits theaters on November 21st.
Synopsis: Two 'sisters' (actually 200-year-old vampires) descend on a small English seaside town to escape their pursuers, wreaking havoc on the locals, even as the younger one falls for a sweet-natured waiter.
What You Need To Know: It's pretty fair to describe Neil Jordan's career as somewhat hit and miss. For every "Company of Wolves," there's a "High Spirits," for every "Crying Game," there's an "In Dreams," and for every "Ondine," there's a "The Brave One." But his latest, "Byzantium," sees him in the gothic territory that's all too often led to his best work. He returns to the bloodsucker genre for the first time since "Interview with a Vampire" and teams up with "Jane Eyre" screenwriter Moira Buffini for a project that sounds like it could work for both genre fans and those after something a little more soulful. Particularly given the cast that he's assembled that includes the ever-rising Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, plus "On the Road" star Sam Riley, "X-Men First Class" mutant Caleb Landry-Jones, the great Daniel Mays ("Red Riding") and Jonny Lee Miller. This could still be an off entry for Jordan, but we've got a good feeling about this.
When? Sunday 9th at the Ryerson, Tuesday 12th at the Visa Screening Room and Saturday 15th at the Bloor Hot Docs. No distributor as yet.
Synopsis: In a future where time travel exists but is outlawed, hitmen are enlisted to eliminate mob targets sent back from even further in the future, so as to leave no bodies. However, the system falls apart when Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) fails to pull the trigger on his older self (played by Bruce Willis).
What You Need To Know: Writer-director Rian Johnson has already put an inspired spin on both film noir with the high school-set “Brick” and the con-man caper with “The Brothers Bloom.” To see him tackle heady sci-fi action with a cast that includes “Brick” lead Gordon-Levitt, Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano and Garret Dillahunt is an exciting prospect indeed. Early word is that this one is big success, and as it opens TIFF, it promises to get festivalgoers off to an exciting start of ten days of movie watching.
When? Thursday, September 6th. Opens in theaers on September 28th.
Synopsis: A playwright attempts suicide to win back her ex-boyfriend, and is forced to live with her gambling addict mother.
What You Need To Know: Kristen Wiig must have had a dozen offers after "Bridesmaids" went supernova, but the actress held out for this, something of a passion project, penned by relative newcomer Michelle Morgan and directed by "American Splendor" duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. It seems to be significantly darker than the comedy that made her name, and they've landed something of a coup with the presence of Annette Bening as Wiig's mother, with Matt Dillon, "Glee" star Darren Criss, Nathan Corddry and Natasha Lyonne making up the rest of the eclectic cast. The directorial pair plus the promise of Wiig and Bening trading lines and barbs has us optimistic for this one.
When? Friday September 7th. The film is seeking U.S. distribution.