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The Toronto Must List

It’s September, which means Hollywood is heading north of the border to the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 4-14), where more than 300 movies look for audience love — and in some cases, a kick-start to their Oscar campaigns; EW will be there, honoring these stars and projects at our party on Sept. 6

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Steve Carell in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher
Virtually unrecognizable under a prosthetic schnoz, the lovable comedic actor goes his darkest yet in this drama based on bizarre real-life events. Carell plays John du Pont, the multimillionaire who, in 1996, bankrolled the training of Olympian wrestling brothers Mark and Dave Schultz (played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), to tragic ends. From Moneyball‘s Bennett Miller, the highly anticipated psychological thriller killed at Cannes and seems to have Oscar written all over it, especially for Carell’s wild ride of a performance as an unhinged, deeply misguided mentor. (Nov. 14)

J.K. Simmons in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash
In director Chazelle’s breakthrough feature — already a smash at Sundance — the reliable character actor takes center stage as an intimidating, demanding conductor at a prestigious New York music academy who turns his menacing glare toward a new drum prodigy (Miles Teller). (Oct. 10)

Octavia Spencer in Black and White
The much-in-demand actress stars as a grief-stricken grandma who fights Kevin Costner for custody of her biracial grandchild in this examination of race, directed by Mike Binder (The Upside of Anger). (Date TBD)

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
Gyllenhaal dives deep into character as a sociopathic freelance videographer who scours L.A.’s nightscape for bloody tragedies. When life doesn’t cooperate with his warped ambitions, he starts engineering scenarios to bank even more grisly footage. (Oct. 31)

The cast of This Is Where I Leave You
An impressive stable of actors (Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Kathryn Hahn, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda) play relatives who gather at the family home to mourn the death of their patriarch in an adaptation of Jonathan Tropper’s best-selling 2009 novel. A week of sitting shivah opens old wounds for four bickering siblings (Bateman, Driver, Stoll, and Fey), who are each grappling with their own demons, while their oversharing, hypersexualized mother (Fonda, naturally) forces them to take stock of their lives. Tropper himself adapted his novel for director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum). Early buzz suggests Girls‘ Driver steals the show as the wild youngest son. (Sept. 19)

Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home
The masterful Chinese director (Raise the Red Lantern, Hero) reteams with his longtime muse Gong Li for this epic family drama set in the aftermath of the country’s late-1960s/’70s Cultural Revolution. The film, which has already done crazy business at home and earned raves at Cannes, centers on a middle-school teacher (Gong) struggling with her husband’s political arrest and reentry into society. (Date TBD)

Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria
The Oscar winner lends her singular talents to her fifth collaboration with director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours). Here she takes on the meaty role of an aging actress who agrees to star in a new production of the play that launched her career two decades earlier — only now she’s playing a supporting role, turning the spotlight over to an ingenue (Chloë Grace Moretz). (Spring 2015)

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Last seen warbling for justice in Les Misérables, Redmayne strikes a decidedly different note in this British period drama, in which he plays a young Stephen Hawking. The film chronicles the famed theoretical physicist’s steamy love affair with his first wife (Felicity Jones) in the 1960s and the beginning of his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. (Nov. 7)