Toronto Film Festival 2018
From Sept. 6-16, TIFF will be buzzing with new talent, classic stories, bold directors, and star-studded ensembles. Here, EW previews the most anticipated performances and titles at this year’s Canada-set fest.
The Old Man & the Gun
Legendary actor and director Robert Redford — who told EW he plans to retire from acting after this David Lowery-helmed film — plays a character based on the life of Forrest Tucker, a career criminal whose enjoyable streak of robbing banks and escaping from jail could be jeopardized by a dogged detective (Casey Affleck) and a new love (Sissy Spacek).
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give might be a fictional YA story, but the George Tillman Jr.-directed tale of a 16-year-old black girl (Amandla Stenberg) who witnesses her unarmed black friend (Algee Smith) getting shot and killed by police is ripped straight from the headlines. The cast is rounded out by nuanced performances from an ensemble including K.J. Apa, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, and Common.
This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman’s ambitious family drama unspools several timelines of intertwined characters across international borders. Featuring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas, Mandy Patinkin, Laia Costa, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Olivia Cooke, and Annette Bening, the film showcases ripples of human emotion — as well as its cast’s searing dramatic chops.
It takes skill to make a surly, restless rebel likable, and yet that’s just what Gael García Bernal does in Alonso Ruizpalacios’ Museo, playing a man who plans an epic heist of artifacts from an anthropology museum. The Mexican actor also appears in supporting roles at the fest, for another Spanish-language title, The Accused, and The Kindergarten Teacher.
After winning hearts — and an Oscar nomination — in last year’s Call Me by Your Name, Timothée Chalamet delves into the ravaging effects of addiction in Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy. Based on David Sheff’s memoir about his son’s struggles with crystal meth, Chalamet stuns opposite Steve Carell, who appears as a father desperate to understand his child.
The Kindergarten Teacher
From Secretary to Sherrybaby, Maggie Gyllenhaal has long aced the art of bringing grace to characters with peculiar obsessions. As the titular educator who forms a dangerous attachment to a poetically prodigious 5-year-old, her demeanor quickly graduates from maternal to maniacal, with Gyllenhaal scaling the peaks of emotional vulnerability.
The Front Runner
Come for the salacious details that derailed Sen. Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign; stay for Hugh Jackman’s fiery speeches as the doomed politician in Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, a timely story that raises questions about the relationship between journalism and politics.
Drifting and swaying through Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife, Carey Mulligan delicately portrays a wife and mother struggling with her place in the world as her husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) goes off to fight wildfires, leaving her to take care of their teenage son (Ed Oxenbould).
The Hummingbird Project
Big Little Lies actor Alexander Skarsgård dusted off his Big Bad vibes for Netflix thriller Hold the Dark, Jeremy Saulnier’s latest; and in The Hummingbird Project he plays one of two cousins (with Jesse Eisenberg) scheming to skim a little off the top of the New York Stock Exchange by building a tunnel from Kansas to New Jersey. These roles have the Swedish actor stretching out and teeming with energy, whether during a high frequency trade or on the hunt in the Alaskan wilds.
The Sisters Brothers
This pairing of John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, two of Hollywood’s most idiosyncratic stars, delivers a compelling adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s novel, which follows two brothers/contract killers riding across the Wild West during the 1800s gold rush in Jacques Audiard’s film.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy boldly resists type as real-life writer-turned-forger Lee Israel, whose boozy drifter pal (Richard E. Grant) helps her sell fake letters “written” by dead celebrities in Marielle Heller’s dark biopic. Both actors give career-best turns, enlivening these queer outcasts with an electric (if curmudgeonly) zest as the most compelling odd couple of the year.
In the festival’s most notable midnight screening, Hollywood’s OG scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the franchise she launched 40 years ago, this time under the direction of David Gordon Green and paired with Judy Greer as her estranged daughter, as Haddonfield comes under attack once again by the seemingly indestructible Michael Myers.
Oscar-winning real-life couple Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem live out every parent’s nightmare in Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows, a psychological thriller where the kidnapping of a teenage girl on the night of a big wedding in a small Spanish town forces a family to confront decades of secrets.
Emilio Estevez wrote, directed, and stars alongside Michael K. Williams (and many more!) in this dramedy about a group of homeless people who take over a Cincinnati public library on a freezing winter night. This duo collaboratively lead the occupation with humor and sympathy.
A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper hits a high note behind the scenes with his directorial debut. He also leads the film opposite Lady Gaga in this reinterpretation of the oft-retold Hollywood romance about a fading crooner and his ingenue.
Grounding himself back on terra firma after steering Gravity to seven Oscars in 2013, Alfonso Cuarón reaches into his past for this semiautobiographical, 1970s-set story about a middle-class Mexican family’s daily life, told in black and white.
If Beale Street Could Talk
Moonlight director Barry Jenkins brings James Baldwin’s literary favorite to life with this experimental take on a young woman’s journey to free her falsely accused fiancé from prison before their child’s birth in 1970s Harlem.
Nicole Kidman’s grizzled portrayal of an L.A. detective haunted by her grim undercover past will turn heads, but it’s the assured direction by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation) that takes center stage in this unflinching drama.
In this emotional and politically charged story, which won the Jury Prize in Cannes this year, Lebanese filmmaker and actress Nadine Labaki fixes her lens on a young boy from the streets of Beirut who sues his parents for his own birth, turning a spotlight on society’s forgotten.
Not many people get to make their film debut in a heist thriller helmed by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), but then again, most people aren’t Cynthia Erivo. The Tony-winning actress easily holds her own alongside the always incredible Viola Davis, making us very excited for Erivo’s upcoming starring roles in Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale and Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet.
When an internet leak sends suburban Salem into a murderous rage, a group of hard-partying high school girls arm themselves with street smarts and katanas to survive the night. In an exploitation-meets-social critique that’s like Heathers plus The Purge, all eyes are on transgender actress Hari Nef, whose performance as trans teen Bex marks the Transparent actress’ first major feature.
Monsters and Men
The BlacKkKlansman actor effectively steps into another law enforcement role twice at TIFF, most notably as an NYPD officer considering his personal identity and his professional directive in this ensemble drama focused on Brooklyn dwellers struggling with racial profiling and the aftermath of a police shooting. (He also plays a cop pursuing Robert Redford in The Old Man & the Gun.)