The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has announced its first crop of titles, noting a strong selection of movies directed by women and a trend involving sports-related dramas. The question we always have about the TIFF programs is whether there any Oscar contenders in the bunch. Most of these are world premieres or works that will debut only days earlier at Venice or Telluride, so we can’t be sure of the answer just yet. But there do seem to be a good amount of movies that should be strong awards-season players.
Here are some of the big name titles we’re most looking foward to, with trailers where available:
Battle of the Sexes: Recent Oscar winner Emma Stone goes up against Steve Carell in the true story of a historic man vs. woman match between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The movie is part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
Breathe: Andy Serkis isn’t just good at playing apes, he also now directs movies. For his debut release, he’s working with a script by Oscar nominee William Nicholson (Gladiator) and the acting talents of leads Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy. The movie, which will have a gala world premiere at TIFF, depicts the romantic true story of a man paralyzed by polio who became an important advocate for the disabled.
The Current War: Benedict Cumberbatch is Thomas Edison, Michael Shannon is George Westinghouse and Nicholas Hoult is Nikola Tesla in this biopic about the race to make a standard and sustainable electricity system. Katherine Waterston and Tuppence Middleton co-star in the latest from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), which is having its world premiere in the TIFF Special Presentations program.
Darkest Hour: Joe Wright returns again to the festival where he first broke out with Pride & Prejudice 12 years ago. This time he’s got a Winston Churchill biopic starring a barely recognizable Gary Oldman during the iconic leader’s first days as British Prime Minister following the start of World War II. Darkest Hour is also part of the TIFF Gala program.
Disobedience: Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams are former secret lovers within an Orothodox Jewish community who are reunited when the former’s rabbi father dies and the latter’s rabbi husband takes his place. Based on the controversial novel by Naomi Alderman, the movie is one of two movies at TIFF directed by Sebastian Lelio this year, the other being A Fantastic Woman. Both are part of the Special Presentations program.
Downsizing: The amazing cast of this sci-fi social satire from Alexander Payne (Election) includes Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Christoph Waltz, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Niecy Nash, Margo Martindale and Udo Kier. The movie, which is about a man who shrinks himself, is part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool: Perhaps Annette Bening can finally win an Academy Award portraying Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame. The movie focuses in on the Hollywood star’s late in life romance with a young actor in England, played by Jamie Bell. Fans of Billy Elliot will be happy to know that Bell is reunited here with Julie Walters, this time playing his mom. It’s also part of the TIFF Gala program.
First They Killed My Father: Angelina Jolie continues her focus on her directing career with this drama inspired by the Cambodian genocide. She co-wrote the script with Loung Ung, author of the memoir the movie is based upon. Part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
I, Tonya: Margot Robbie plays Tonya Harding in the true story of the 1994 figure skating scandal. Sebastian Stan portrays her husband Jeff Gillooly and Caitlin Carver is her attacked rival Nancy Kerrigan. Part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig makes her solo filmmaking debut with a comedy starring Saoirse Ronan as a young woman heading to college in New York City. The cast also includes Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges. This is the opening night selection for the Special Presentations program.
mother!: Jennifer Lawrence, Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris and Kristen Wiig star in the latest from Darren Aronofsky. Little is known about the movie, other than it’s about a couple whose lives are disrupted by houseguests and that it’s a psychological horror-thriller. And it’s part of the TIFF Special Presentations program.
Professor Marston & the Wonder Women: Wonder Woman gets another movie this year, as Angela Robinson (Herbie Fully Loaded) directs this story of the superhero’s creator (Luke Evans) and his two muses (Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcoate). Part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
The Shape of Water:Guillermo del Toro’s new visionary fantasy period piece stars Sally Hawkins as a woman who befriends a fish man (Doug Jones) at a secret government facility, to the disapproval of Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg and J.K. Simmons. Part of TIFF’s Special Presentations program.
Stronger: Jake Gyllenhaal stars in this true-life drama about one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. As he recovers, he aids the police in finding the men responsible for the tragedy. David Gordon Green is the director, and this is another TIFF Gala title.
Submergence: James McAvoy and Alicia Vikander lead the latest from Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), an adaptation of J.M. Ledgard’s novel about two separately confined characters remembering their romance the previous Christmas.
Suburbicon: George Clooney’s first directorial effort since 2014’s The Monuments Men is a crime film written by the Coen brothers. Clooney doesn’t appear in the movie, which instead stars Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac and Josh Brolin.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Martin McDonagh’s new movie showcases a foul-mouthed Frances McDormand as the mother of a murdered girl who forces the local police to make the case a priority. Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, Zeljko Ivanek, Abbie Cornish and John Hawkes co-star in this hilarious-looking crime film, another in the TIFF Special Presentations program.
Victoria and Abdul: Dame Judi Dench is playing the Queen of England again, her second time portraying Queen Victoria (the first was in Mrs. Brown, for which she received an Oscar nomination). The new movie, directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen), is about the monarch’s friendship with a young Indian clerk (Ali Fazal) and is in the Special Presentations program.