10 movies getting the biggest advance buzz at TIFF 2014
The full TIFF 2014 schedule has been revealed, the programme book is printed and available, and the time to make our movie picks is upon all of us. Which means that now begins the mad-dash for tickets to some of the most hotly anticipated films at this year's festival.
If you're a little behind on the buzz, don't worry. I've collected a list of ten of the most eagerly awaited movies--which range from Hollywood, to independent to international cinema--that you want to be sure to snag tickets for before they get snatched up.
Foxcatcher, already an award-winner, probably has more Oscar buzz going into TIFF than any other movie. Director Bennett Miller and actor Steve Carell are already riding a wave of award-chatter that's making Foxcatcher a must-watch for those who want to be able to say "I saw it when" come Academy Award time in 2015.
The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch is so red-hot right now, pretty much any movie he's in becomes highly anticipated. The Imitation Game is no exception. One of the most talked about flicks leading into TIFF, the movie's subject is the true WWII story about Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), the man who cracked Germany's infamous Enigma communication code. The Imitation Game (which also stars Keira Knightley) promises to be part biopic, part thriller. And if it's half as great as director Morten Tyldum's Jo Nesbø adaptation, Headhunters, it also promises to be fantastic.
The Cannes winner of Best Screenplay, this Russian film from director Andrey Zvyagintsev (The Return), focuses on a family squaring off against a land-grabbing mayor in a small Barents Sea-side town. The reviews for Leviathan were so unanimously glowing, it's hard not to want to check out a film so widely heralded as a masterpiece.
British director Mike Leigh's movies are always events to be anticipated--especially with the hot streak he's on right now (Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year). If word from Cannes is any indication, the run continues with Mr. Turner, a biopic about famed English impressionist painter, J.M.W. Turner (played by Timothy Spall, who won Best Actor at Cannes).
All it took was a 50 second video clip of a skinny, bug-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal marking an increasingly unstable sales pitch to ignite conversations amongst critics about what a good actor he's become. That clip--initially mysteriously unlabeled--was from Nightcrawler, a movie about a thief who becomes a freelance crime scene photographer that is maybe a little too eager to get a great shot. Word has it, Nightcrawler may also be a great shot for Gyllenhaal to get another Oscar nomination.
The Riot Club
Four years ago, Lone Scherfig's fantastic An Education earned several Academy Award nominations--including Best Picture--and made Carey Mulligan a star. Now, Scherfig re-teams with An Education screenwriter, and best-selling novelist (High Fidelity, About a Boy), Nick Hornby, for this much anticipated film about a secret society of privileged young men at Oxford University. TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey counts this as one of his top picks for the festival this year, so it's a definite must.
Why is St. Vincent so buzzed about? Bill Murray. It's as simple as that. Yes, the supporting cast (Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O'Dowd) is a draw too, but ultimately it comes down the perennially impish--on and off screen--Murray. Even TIFF knows it's all about Bill Muray: they're hosting an entire day dedicated to him when St. Vincent premieres.
While We're Young
Noah Baumbach's last movie, Frances Ha, was one of the best films of 2013 and showed a surprisingly welcome softer side to Baumbach's filmmaking. While We're Young (which re-teams him with Greenberg star, Ben Stiller) is riding a wave of anticipation to see where Baumbach goes next. If the TIFF programme description is any indication, we won't be disappointed.
Reese Witherspoon is so frequently discussed in conjunction with this year's festival, it almost feels like she's its mascot. That's not just because she's in two eagerly awaited films--Wild and The Good Lie (both by Quebecois directors, Jean-Marc Vallée and Philippe Falardeau). It's because everyone loves a career resurrection (see: Matthew McConaughey), and Witherspoon seems on the verge of hers. Most of all with Wild, an adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir, which will find the actress playing a broken drug addict trying to get her life back in order.
Whenever a Cannes Palme d'Or winner makes its way to TIFF, it tends to generate a good deal of curiosity, like last year's Blue is the Warmest Color. Nuri Bilge Ceylan has already established himself with the great Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, and while his running times can be bladder challenges (Winter Sleep is 196 minutes long), word is TIFF-goers will find its accolade well-earned.
What movie are you most looking forward to seeing at TIFF? Add it to the comments.