Ten Films We're Excited For At TIFF


The Toronto International Film Festival is now officially around the corner. We know this, because the first images of the promotional campaign are posted, the dates have been announced, and the first wave of curated films are finally here. Of course, many other films will make their way into the lineup, but the first batch usually indicates a good chunk of the heavy hitters. As usual, there is quite a variety of films to pick from. Tiffing is extremely hard if you don't know what you're doing. As a Toronto based e-zine, we will be covering the festival for all of the ten days (September 5th to 15th). We will teach you about the ins and outs, while reviewing films at the festival. For now, let's just look ahead at ten films we would like to cover (and you should have on your radar). There will be a bit of rehashing from our Ten Most Anticipated Films list, but their inclusion here should only strengthen their worth.


11. Uncut Gems
Okay, we promised ten films here, but there's no way we could neglect to include the newest film by the Safdie brothers. Uncut Gems projects what could be Adam Sandler's greatest performance ever (before you joke, please refer to Punch Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories for proof that he has a knack for acting). With an intense criminal plot, unhinged editing (according to TIFF creative director Cameron Bailey), and even a cameo from NBA champion Kevin Garnett as himself, Uncut Gems is worth discussing.


10. The Painted Bird
Václav Marhoul's upcoming film fits right in line with some of the most challenging features that world cinema has offered us. Capernaum. Shoplifters. The Painted Bird. This time, a Jewish child is sent into hiding to avoid the rise of antisemitism. His caregiver passes away, and he is to face the harsh world alone. The film is shot in a textured black and white, and early images look stunning. This is going to be a tough one, folks.


9. Honey Boy
The strong critical reaction, and the polarizing audience reaction, make Alma Har'el's Honey Boy all the more intriguing. Shia LaBoeuf is a controversial figure in cinema, but I always appreciate his audacity to provoke (even though the majority of his attempts fall flat). With his screenplay, Har'el's gifted direction, and an eclectic cast (I cannot wait to see what FKA Twigs can bring to the screen), Honey Boy looks to be a test that won't be for everyone.


8. Jojo Rabbit
With the TIFF announcement came the first trailer for Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit (a film he dubbed an "anti-hate satire", maybe putting a spin on the term "anti-hero"). A young German boy learns his mother is protecting Jewish civilians, and he turns to his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi himself) for advice. We have a film that pushes to obliterate those that are deeply set in their bigoted ways, all while making fun of the easiest target in the history of anything. This is thinking outside of the box.


7. Harriet
We've heard the story of the iconic figure Harriet Tubman many times. Her story is important to keep alive. Well, Kasi Lemmons may be delivering us the definitive portrayal of this moment in history with her latest film, appropriately (and simply) titled "Harriet". Cinematographer John Toll is on board, and so is composer Terence Blanchard. This is shaping up to be a well crafted film on an aesthetic level. With a heavy hitting cast (including Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., and Janelle Monáe, this can be a powerful biopic.


6. Joker
Joker is making another festival appearance; this time it's Toronto. Todd Phillips and company must be certain that their gangster take of the iconic comic book character is something special. The promotional material we have seen promises a tragically dark twist of fate, in the form of a mind cracking. Isn't that who the Joker always was? True, but it might be a nice change of pace to see a truly unique take on a hero that's been done to death by now.


5. Saturday Fiction
Combining the arts with times of hardship can be an incredible experience to behold. Lou Ye's Saturday Fiction details the life of a Chinese actress performing in Japan, only to be tied up in political turmoil when Pearl Harbour happens. This is the kind of premise that hoists a situation over your head, and you have no idea which way it will dangle. Very little is known about this film currently, but that doesn't stop a premise from being enticing.


4. Pain and Glory
I'll never shy away from a new film by the fantastic Pedro Almodovar. When the film in question is touted as his best work in tears, then I am more than intrigued. Pain and Glory teams Almodovar with some of his veteran performers (Antonio Banderas, Penélope Cruz), so you know where you stand on that front. Then, we have the story about filmmaking, and a director feeling guilty for his sins. A film about the movies made by one of the greatest auteurs of all time? Sign. Me. Up.


3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
One of the films featured here that did well at Cannes, Portrait of a Lady on Fire debuted with unanimous praise and adoration. In fact, it's being considered the best film by director Céline Sciamma to date. The cinematography looks to be one of the best examples of 2019, and the story about a countess and a painter falling in love has been lauded all year. Sometimes, a coveted film is a no brainer to see.


2. The Lighthouse
Horror fans have been dying to see any new film by Robert Eggers after The VVitch. The Lighthouse has been slowly making its 2019 rounds, and it's finally in Toronto. Shot on 35mm and made to look like aged film, this work aims to represent the horror flicks of many moons ago. Mix that with Eggers' obsession with brooding anxiety at every turns and you may have one of the best love letters to cinema 2019 can muster.


1. Parasite
This may be obvious. Parasite was on our previous anticipated films list. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes with ease. It's already making best-of-the-year lists for various publications. Bong Joon-ho may even have an Oscar on his hands with Parasite: a savagely dark comedy about self worth, class, and the human condition. Be careful not to read too much into the film, since it seems like a thriller that relies on how little you know going in. Just know that it's going to be one of the hottest films at TIFF.

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.