tiff 2014

The top 10 movies to watch at TIFF 2014

In the last week, I've told you all about the award-winning, the Canadian, and the hotly anticipated movies coming to TIFF in 2014. Now it's time to get a little personal and tell you about the ten movies I can't wait to see at TIFF this year. Many of them have already been mentioned in the other posts -Leviathan, Foxcatcher, Force Majeure, While We're Young, Winter Sleep, Tu Dors Nicole - so this list features films that haven't been mentioned yet. Because we all know that when it comes to TIFF, nobody has just a top 10 movies to watch. It's more like a top 20, 30, or 40.

The Cobbler
Thomas McCarthy's The Station Agent is one of my favorite films of all time, and every one of his excellent follow-ups (The Visitor, Win Win) has done nothing but deepened my anticipation of whatever he does next. In this case, The Cobbler, which is about a man (Adam Sandler) who finds a magical family heirloom that lets him walk a mile in his customer's shoes (sort of literally). The fable-like premise, and the potential for the first good Adam Sandler dramatic performance since Punch Drunk Love, are all draws. But they still take a backseat to McCarthy once again telling a story about a sweet, gentle man whose uneventful life becomes enriched and expanded.

Mia Hansen-Løve's Goodbye First Love was a masterpiece--a wonderful ode to young love and the bumpy transition from teendom to adulthood. Her follow-up could have been a biopic based on a Miley Cyrus Instagtam photo and I'd still would have seen it. Instead (thankfully) Eden sees the director return to the subject of youth, this time on a slightly grander scale: the thump-thump world of the early 1990s electronic-music scene in Paris.

Director Shim Sung-Bo hasn't done very much as a filmmaker. In fact, this is his first feature film. But he has two things going for him. One, he co-wrote the screenplay for Bong Joon-Ho's Memories of Murder, one of the best South Korean films ever made. Two, Bong Joon-Ho (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer) is returning the screenwriting favor for Haemoo. That's certainly enough to anticipate the film, but it also helps that TIFF seems so confident in the film's quality, it's included it in their Gala Presentations.

The Humbling
Imagine this: What if one of the greatest living American actors (Al Pacino) starred in an adaptation of a novel by one of America's greatest living authors (Philip Roth)? That's The Humbling. Supported by the infinitely watchable Greta Gerwig, and directed by Academy Award winner, Barry Levinson, The Humbling should hopefully prove to be more than just your normal May-September romance movie.

As someone who is forever hopeful the romantic comedy will become successful once again, Lynne Shelton's charming Your Sister's Sister was a sight for sore eyes: a deft indie film appropriating many of the characteristics and virtues of the rom-com. Laggies looks to build on that. With all the earmarks of a good rom-com, here Keira Knightly plays a young woman undergoing a quarter-life crisis. She befriends a teenager (ChloĂŤ Grace Moretz) with whom she then stays to figure out her life. All the while, she starts to form a connection with the teen's dad. A dad played by Sam Rockwell, which is another reason to look forward to Laggies. Sam Rockwell should be in everything.

Sometimes you just want to see a TIFF movie so you can scratch an unbearable itch of curiosity. That's how I feel about Maggie. Here Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a farmer in the Midwest whose daughter (Abigail Breslin) becomes sick, and slowly starts turning into a zombie-like monster. The art house treatment of B-movie plots (i.e. zombies) is always intriguing, but most of all my curiosity lies in wanting to see how Schwarzenegger fares in his first serious role since returning to acting.

Meet Me in Montenegro
Seven years ago a little-seen film called In Search of a Midnight Kiss proved to be a welcome entry in the Before Sunrise pseudo-genre: two people meet, spend 24 hours-ish together, walk, talk, and--of course--fall in love. It's been a long wait for director Alex Holdridge's follow-up, but it's finally here. What's more, his new film Meet Me in Montenegro sounds like it could be just as interesting a study of modern love--the euphoria and the challenges--as last time.

[REC]4 Apocalypse
[REC] 1 and 2--thrilling, clever, and anxiety inducing--count as two of my top horror movies of all time. After a misguided (and ignorable) sidestep into comedy with [REC] 3, the series returns to its roots and the star of the original film for the (supposed) final chapter. This time it's inventively, and claustrophobically, set on an ocean freighter. Which is pretty much the zombie movie setting I never knew I wanted.

Tokyo Tribe
Last year, Sion Sono's Why Don't You Play in Hell? killed at Midnight Madness. This year he's back with Tokyo Tribe, which the TIFF programme calls a "yakuza-street gang-hip hop-musical epic [set] in a futuristic, alternate-world Tokyo." Honestly? I don't need more than that to be excited for this.

Two Days, One Night
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's last film, the heartfelt (but never saccharine) The Kid with a Bike, was co-winner of 2011 Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix award. Two Days, One Night received equally good buzz at Cannes this year, especially for Marion Cotillard's performance as a working-class mother fighting to keep her job. The Dardennes have a rare talent for creating tension and suspense out of everyday stakes, and--like all rare talents--it needs to be appreciated as often as possible.

the equalizer movieThanks to the Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington, for sponsoring our coverage of TIFF 2014.

What would you add to this list? Plug the movies in the comments.

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