Toronto Film Festival: 8 Films You’ll Want To Watch

amy adams nocturnal animals tom ford film

by Katie Rosseinsky |

For the film industry, autumn’s arrival means we’re moving from flashy, hyped-up blockbuster fare (cough, Suicide Squad, cough) to potential awards season contenders.

After red carpet spectacles in Cannes and Venice, September 8 sees the great and the good of cinema heading over to Canada for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. A showcase of nearly 300 features, TIFF’s programmers certainly have an eye for a future success: the ten-day event has previously hosted premieres for Best Picture Academy Award winners including American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech.

Ahead of this year’s event, these are the films that everyone’s talking about…

American Pastoral

Philip Roth’s hefty Pulitzer Prize-winning novel gets the big screen treatment in Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut. McGregor also stars as Swede Levov, a New Jersey businessman who appears to have it all, but – spoiler alert – sees his family life crumble as his daughter (played by Dakota Fanning) is radicalised. Jennifer Connelly and Orange Is The New Black’s Uzo Aduba make up a stellar cast.

Nocturnal Animals

After 2009’s A Single Man comes Tom Ford’s second – and much-anticipated – feature film, Nocturnal Animals. An adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, it stars Amy Adams as a woman who is drawn into the fictional world of a thriller written by her estranged ex-husband (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). As you’d expect from Ford, it’s gorgeously shot, but doesn’t favour style over substance, merging the fiction of the novel with Susan’s perceived reality to create a gripping psycho-drama.

Jackie

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Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy in a new bioipic ©Toronto International Film Festival

The events surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy have been played out on screen before, but Chilean director Pablo Larrian has chosen to retell this American tragedy through the eyes of the First Lady, Jackie. In the title role, Natalie Portman looks ready to give a poised and moving performance, and is joined by Peter Sarsgaard and indie darling Greta Gerwig.

A United Kingdom

He was first in line to the throne of Bechuanaland (now Botswana); she was a white Englishwoman working in an office. Back in 1947, the romance between Seretse Khama, the future President of an independent Botswana, and Ruth Williams, his future First Lady, was the source of much scandal and controversy. Directed by Grazia Collective ambassador Amma Asante, A United Kingdom tells a love story that triumphs over the odds. With David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike as the central pair, we predict awards nods aplenty come next year.

Planetarium

Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp are perfectly cast as sisters with psychic abilities in this hotly anticipated period thriller from French director Rebecca Zlotowski. Set in 1930s Paris, Planetarium sees Laura (Portman) and Kate (Depp, in her biggest role to date) capture the attention of a film producer (played by Emmanuel Salinger), who wishes to harness their powers for an ambitious new project. If the latest trailer is anything to go by, it’s set to be a haunting, otherworldly experience.

La La Land

Opening to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s pitch-perfect love story comes to Toronto for its North American premiere. Inspired by the musicals of Hollywood’s golden age, La La Land reunites Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who showcase their vocal talents as an aspiring actress and a struggling jazz musician. Watch the dreamy trailer and you'll be instantly hooked...

American Honey

Andrea Arnold has won plaudits for her uncompromising, harshly realist aesthetic, from Fish Tank to her adaptation of Wuthering Heights (which is bleak even by Bronte standards.) American Honey is her first venture into US territory, and has already scooped the prestigious Jury Prize at Cannes. Starring newcomer Sasha Lane opposite Shia LeBeouf and Riley Keough, Arnold’s latest looks set to turn the all-American road trip on its head.

Their Finest

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Gemma Arterton stars in Their Finest ©Toronto International Film Festival

This cheery wartime comedy sees Gemma Arterton lead a best-of-British ensemble cast featuring Sam Claflin, Jack Huston, Helen McCrory, Richard E. Grant and Bill Nighy. Directed by Lone Scherfig (responsible for An Education, The Riot Club and One Day), Their Finest tells the story of a group of filmmakers struggling to boost morale during the Blitz.

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