2015 Fall Film Festival Recap: The Verdict on Films Debuting at TIFF, Telluride, and Venice

  • Publish Date: September 20, 2015
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Fall Film Festival reviewsBelow, we reveal the highlights and lowlights of the fall festival circuit by gathering the responses from professional critics to films screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, Venice, and Telluride. Each year, these prestigious events are where many Oscar best picture nominees first premiere, and you can expect to see many of these films in theaters before the end of the year.

Omitted from the list below are films that first debuted at other major festivals earlier this year, as those titles were previously covered in our Cannes Recap and our Sundance Recap.

This year's notable festival films

. About Ray Watch trailer
date tbd | Drama/Comedy | Directed by

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Starring Elle Fanning as Ray, a teenager transitioning from female to male, Naomi Watts as her concerned mother, and Susan Sarandon as her lesbian grandmother, director Gaby Dellal’s (On a Clear Day) film earned mixed reviews at its Toronto premiere, with praise going to its ensemble (which also includes Tate Donovan as Ray’s father) and criticism to the story's too-safe look at a complex process. The Weinstein Company delayed the previously titled Three Generations just three days before its planned September 18 release, and a new date has yet to be announced.

VENICE GRAND JURY PRIZE WINNER
. Anomalisa
December 30 | Animation/Drama | Directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson

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The best reviewed film of the fall festival season (and 2015 in general) and winner of the second-place Grand Jury Prize in Venice was partially financed through Kickstarter, originally performed as an experimental play for composer Carter Burwell’s Theater of the New Ear project, took two years to make, and features the most explicit puppet sex since Team America: World Police. It’s another bizarre but soulful contribution to cinema from Charlie Kaufman, the writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Adaptation. and writer-director of Synecdoche, New York. Co-directed with animator Duke Johnson (Community), the film follows Michael Stone (voiced by David Thewlis), the author of How May I Help You to Help Them?, a book on customer service, as he travels to Cincinnati to give a speech. For Stone, every single person in his world sounds like the actor Tom Noonan, until he meets Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh). Paramount snapped up the rights to the film and will give it an awards-qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York at the end of the year.

. Beasts of No Nation Watch trailer
October 16 | Drama | Directed by Cary Fukunaga

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The first Netflix-produced feature film, writer-director Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's 2005 novel about child soldiers in West Africa earned rave reviews for his direction, as well as the performances of Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Attah. But be prepared: it’s a long (over two hours) and grueling watch as Elba’s charismatic Commandant introduces Attah’s Agu to the horrors of war. This devastating portrait of brutality will challenge audiences when they go to a theater (suggested by many critics for Fukunaga’s stunning cinematography) or select it on Netflix beginning October 16th.

. A Bigger Splash
May 13, 2016 | Drama | Directed by Luca Guadagnino

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I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Jacques Deray’s 1969 film La Piscine stars Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts as a famous rock star and her lover of six years whose idyllic Italian island vacation is interrupted by an old friend (Ralph Fiennes) and his daughter (Dakota Johnson). Swinton’s character, who has been rendered almost speechless after vocal chord surgery, contrasts with Fiennes comedic chatterbox, but both performances earned praise from many critics. While the film did earn some boos when it premiered in Venice, the majority of critics fell for a film The Guardian described as “both deeply strange and undeniably funny.”

. Blood of My Blood
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Marco Bellocchio

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Vincere and Dormant Beauty director Marco Bellocchio returned to the Venice Film Festival with this film that tells two stories that take place in different time periods at the convent in the director’s hometown of Bobbio. In the first, it’s the middle ages, and a nun is on trial for being a witch. In the second, a contemporary story, the potential sale of the convent urges action from the “Count” who lives there. Many critics fell for this strange, ambiguous and beautiful film, but for the A.V. Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and others, Bellocchio’s risks didn’t “add up to all that much” this time.

. Born to Be Blue
date tbd | Drama | Directed by Robert Budreau

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Ethan Hawke stars as Chet Baker in this biopic of the jazz trumpeter and singer. Written and directed by Robert Budreau, the film covers Baker’s life in the 1960s when he tried to kick his heroin addiction and mount a comeback. While Budreau’s choices didn’t work for every critic, they did agree that Hawke is excellent, with Variety’s Andrew Barker claiming the performance “ranks among the best of his career.”

. The Childhood of a Leader
date tbd | Drama | Directed by Brady Corbet

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Actor Brady Corbet’s debut feature won the "Luigi de Laurentiis" Venice Award for best debut film, and he also won best director in the Horizons section of the festival for this tale of a young boy growing up between World War I and II. Scored by Scott Walker and starring Bérénice Bejo, Liam Cunningham, Stacy Martin, and Robert Pattinson, plus Tom Sweet as the tantrum-throwing “Leader” of the title, the film was praised for its daring and derided for its lack of narrative thrust.

. The Clan
date tbd | Foreign/Drama/Thriller | Directed by Pablo Trapero

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Winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director in Venice, Pablo Trapero’s (Carancho) chronicle of the true crime exploits of the Puccio family in 1980s Argentina earned comparisons to Martin Scorsese’s work thanks to its skillful set-pieces and clever use of rock music.

. The Danish Girl Watch trailer
November 27 | Drama | Directed by Tom Hooper

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It still might earn consideration come awards season, but critics were split on the latest offering from Tom Hooper (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech). The film chronicles the journey of Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander), husband and wife painters in 1920s Copenhagen, as Einar discovers his desire to become a woman and begins one of the first documented male to female medical transitions. For The Wrap’s Alonso Duralde, The Danish Girl is a movie “both steeped in awards-season prestige and in possession of a pulse,” with two “powerful performances” at its center. But other critics found it flat, and preferred the energy of Vikander’s performance to Redmayne’s more mannered style.

. De Palma
date tbd | Documentary | Directed by Jake Paltrow and Noah Baumbach

Noah Baumbach (Mistress America) and Jake Paltrow (Young Ones) directed this profile of filmmaker Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables, Passion). The film takes a chronological look at the up and down career of the director, allowing De Palma’s voice and clips from his filmography to tell the story. The result is a film that critics think any cinephile would enjoy.

. Demolition Watch trailer
April 8, 2016 | Drama | Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

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Director Jean-Marc Vallée couldn’t quite pull off a three-peat. After pleasing critics with Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, his latest, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a grief-stricken investment banker who decides to tear his life down before building it back up, earned a split decision, with most critics blaming Bryan Sipe’s script for the film’s faults. Gyllenhaal’s performance, however, was mostly praised.

. The Dressmaker
date tbd | Drama | Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse

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Jocelyn Moorhouse (Proof, How to Make an American Quilt, A Thousand Acres) directed this adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s novel from a script co-written with her writer-director husband P.J. Morgan (Muriel’s Wedding). Starring Kate Winslet as an avenging dressmaker in the 1950s who returns to her small hometown of Dungatar, Australia (from which she was banished for allegedly murdering a classmate when she was 10), the film baffled critics with its mishmash of tones. But Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, and Liam Hemsworth (as Winslet’s love interest) earned solid reviews.

. Equals
date tbd | Sci-fi | Directed by Drake Doremus

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The latest from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, Breathe In) is a futuristic love story set in a world where emotions are genetically suppressed. Scripted by Nathan Parker (Moon), Equals stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as members of the society who begin to have feelings for each other, but the forbidden love storyline and futuristic setting didn’t impress critics, despite the leads’ acting chops.

. Evolution
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic

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Innocence director Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s first feature in 10 years cast a spell on many critics with its arresting visuals from cinematographer Manu Dacosse (The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears), hypnotic mood, and dream-like narrative of young boys and their mothers living in an isolated seaside community.

. Eye in the Sky
date tbd | Thriller | Directed by Gavin Hood

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Gavin Hood (Ender’s Game) directs Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul and Barkhad Abdi in this drone strike thriller. While critics agree that the result is suspenseful, Screen International’s Tim Grierson claims that the filmmaking “buries troubling wartime questions in simplistic rhetoric.”

. The Family Fang
date tbd | Drama | Directed by Jason Bateman

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Jason Bateman’s follow-up to Bad Words tells the story of a brother and sister (Bateman and Nicole Kidman) who move back in with their performance artist parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett). Scripted by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) from Kevin Wilson’s 2011 novel, the film struck critics as an improvement over Bateman’s debut feature and a welcome relief from typical dysfunctional family dramas.

. Francofonia
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov

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Russian Ark director Aleksandr Sokurov returned to another museum, the Louvre, for his latest feature, a meditation on art, war and history. Tracing the history of the Louvre through various film forms (Sokurov provides the voiceover, historical figures roam the halls of the museum, the Nazi occupation is dramatized), the director’s playful yet deep personal essay struck a chord with critics in Venice.

. Freeheld Watch trailer
October 2 | Drama | Directed by Peter Sollett

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Directed by Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Raising Victor Vargas) from a script by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia), this true story about New Jersey police detective Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) and her fight to leave her pension to her domestic partner Stacie Andree (Ellen Page) has already produced one award-winning film (Cynthia Wade won a 2007 Academy Award for best documentary short). But this dramatization, despite strong lead performances, will not be winning any awards. Eric Kohn of Indiewire sums up the critical consensus thusly: “Unfortunately, while Julianne Moore and Ellen Page go great lengths to make the central romance convince, Nyswaner's undercooked script and Peter Sollett's direction have the opposite effect, reducing Freeheld to a tired formula.”

VENICE GOLDEN LION WINNER
. From Afar
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Lorenzo Vigas

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This debut feature from Venezuelan writer-director Lorenzo Vigas won the top prize at Venice. The story follows the developing relationship between Armando (Alfredo Castro in a highly praised performance), a well-off, middle-aged gay man, and Elder, a working-class kid whom Armando initially picks up cruising the streets of Caracas. In his glowing review, David Rooney of THR calls it “a work of bracing maturity and jagged sensuality.”

. Hardcore Watch trailer
date tbd | Action/Sci-fi | Directed by Ilya Naishuller

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Russian director Ilya Naishuller's debut feature is first-person shooter cinema. Filmed with body-mounted GoPro cameras, the movie plays out from the POV of a super-soldier named Henry, who’s racing to save his wife (Haley Bennet) from a super-villain with telekinetic powers. A scientist named Jimmy, played by Sharlto Copley in various guises, is Henry’s only help. While many critics admit to having fun with the film, the concept wore out its welcome long before the end credits, and in some audiences, it also induced motion sickness. After winning a bidding war, STX Entertainment will release the film in the U.S.

. He Named Me Malala Watch trailer
October 2 | Documentary | Directed by Davis Guggenheim

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This documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai by director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) left critics duly impressed by its subject but less enamored of the director’s choices.

. Heart of a Dog
October 21 | Documentary | Directed by Laurie Anderson

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Musician/performance artist Laurie Anderson’s cinematic essay is her own unique take on love, death and memory. At the center of the film is Anderson’s dog, Lolabelle, her constant companion for many years. Through the use of voiceover, animation, eight millimeter film, layered imagery and music, Anderson confronts painful times in a deep but delicate way that pleased many critics.

. High-Rise
date tbd | Action/Thriller/Sci-fi | Directed by Ben Wheatley

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In this adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel, Tom Hiddleston stars as a doctor who moves into a luxury apartment only to find himself in the middle, literally, of a class war. Making his way up from the depths of the building is Luke Evans’ Richard Wilder and trying to keep his spot at the top is Jeremy Irons as the building’s architect Anthony Royal. So far, the film has earned the usually solid director-writer team of Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump, who previously collaborated on Kill List, Sightseers and A Field in England, the most divided reviews of their careers. THR’s Stephen Dalton might have summed it up best, writing, “High-Rise is a rich and fascinating mess. But it is a mess.”

. I Saw the Light
November 27 | Drama/Music | Directed by Marc Abraham

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One of the major disappointments at TIFF was Marc Abraham’s biopic of American singer-songwriter Hank Williams. English actor Tom Hiddleston plays Williams and Elisabeth Olsen is Audrey, his long-suffering wife, in two performances that were roundly praised (along with the work of cinematographer Dante Spinotti). Unfortunately, Abraham’s script and direction failed to hit the right notes, narratively speaking.

. In Jackson Heights
November 4 | Documentary | Directed by Frederick Wiseman

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The latest documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (National Gallery, At Berkeley) looks at the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, one of the most diverse communities in the world, where 167 languages are spoken and gentrification is an imminent threat. Critics once again embraced Wiseman’s observational cinema, noting that a visit to a class for taxi drivers was a particular highlight.

. Into the Forest
date tbd | Sci-fi/Drama | Directed by Patricia Rozema

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Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park) directed this adaptation of Jean Hegland’s novel that explores a post-apocalyptic world through the bond between sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood). While critics agreed that the film was well acted by Page and Wood, Variety’s Scott Tobias wishes for direction with a “bolder touch.”

. Janis: Little Girl Blue
date tbd | Documentary/Music | Directed by Amy Berg

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The latest documentary from director Amy Berg (Prophet’s Prey, An Open Secret) chronicles the life of singer Janis Joplin. While not as stylistically adventurous as Asif Kapadia’s Amy, the film did please critics as a thorough look at a tumultuous life, though some reviewers wished for more of an emphasis on Joplin's music.

. The Lady in the Van Watch trailer
December 11 | Drama | Directed by Nicholas Hytner

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The History Boys director Nicholas Hytner’s big-screen adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play tells the story of the bond Bennett (Alex Jennings) formed with Miss Shepherd, a homeless woman who lived in a van on his property for 15 years. Maggie Smith reprises her Olivier-nominated stage role and steals the movie.

. Legend Watch trailer
November 20 | Drama/Thriller | Directed by Brian Helgeland

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Tom Hardy stars as twins Ronald and Reginald Kray, the notorious gangsters who terrorized London in the 1950s and '60s, in this biopic by writer-director Brian Helgeland (42, A Knight’s Tale). Most critics enjoyed Hardy’s dual performances, but the film, while entertaining, was described as “disappointingly shallow” and “[lacking] any sense of gravitas.”

. Lolo
date tbd | Comedy | Directed by Julie Delpy

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Julie Delpy’s directorial follow-up to 2 Days in New York tells the story of a mother (Delpy) whose new romance with a computer programmer (Dany Boon) is put to the test by her possessive son (Vincent Lacoste playing Eloi, the Lolo of the title). While some critics believe there are enough laughs to recommend the film, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw deems it “a disaster.”

. London Fields
date tbd | Thriller | Directed by Mathew Cullen

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The debut feature for director Matthew Cullen happens to be an adaptation of Martin Amis’ well-regarded 1989 novel about Nicola Six, a femme fatale (Amber Heard) who can foresee her own death and agrees to have tortured novelist Samson Young (Billy Bob Thornton, delivering Amis’ prose in voiceover) document it. The suspected killers are played by Jim Sturgess and Theo James, while Johnny Depp and the author himself show up in cameos. So what does a novice director, strong source material and a name cast add up to? Well according to THR’s Tom McCarthy, “the most staggering gulf in quality between a novel and a film adaptation in recent memory.” After filing a lawsuit against the film's producers, Cullen may wish he had taken a pass on the material, much as David Cronenberg and Michael Winterbottom previously did. Sometimes an unadaptable book should remain un-adapted.

. Maggie's Plan
date tbd | Comedy/Drama | Directed by Rebecca Miller

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Writer-director Rebecca Miller (The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Ballad of Jack and Rose) shifts into a lighter, more comedic tone with this story of the titular Maggie (Greta Gerwig), whose plan to become a single mother gets derailed when she meets professor and aspiring novelist Henry (Ethan Hawke), who happens to be married to Georgette (Julianne Moore). This entertaining dramedy won acclaim for its smart screenplay and sharp ensemble.

. The Martian Watch trailer
October 2 | Sci-fi/Adventure | Directed by Ridley Scott

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Jesse Pinkman’s exclamation of “Yeah, Science!” was invoked by more than one critic when describing the spirit of Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s best-selling novel. The nerds come out on top in this story of abandoned astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who must survive on Mars with meager supplies while he waits to be rescued. The excellent cast (Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara, Michael Peña, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, and Donald Glover), assured direction (with special attention given for the use of 3D), and solid script by Drew Goddard combine to deliver satisfying (if not groundbreaking) blockbuster entertainment.

. Miss You Already Watch trailer
November 6 | Dramedy | Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

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Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) directs this story about inseparable best friends Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), who must lean on each other even more when Milly is diagnosed with breast cancer. Critics found the film disappointing in how it treats serious material in a clichéd manner, with most of the blame going to Morwenna Banks’ script.

. Mr. Right
date tbd | Action/Rom-com | Directed by Paco Cabezas

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Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell star in this hitman rom-com written by Max Landis (American Ultra) and directed by Paco Cabezas (Rage). While the perennially likable stars emerged unscathed, the critics were not kind to Landis and Cabezas.

. Neon Bull
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Gabriel Mascaro

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Brazilian writer-director Gabriel Mascaro’s second narrative feature was a pleasant surprise for critics in Venice and Toronto. Coming just a year after he found festival success with his first feature, August Winds, Mascaro takes viewers into the world of vaquejada, a traditional sport in which cowboys try to pull bulls down by their tails. The elliptical narrative focuses (as much as it does) on Iremar (Juliano Cazarré), who designs outfits for dancers in his spare time. For Indiewire’s Eric Kohn, it’s a “a striking response to questions surrounding the precise nature of the movies. It's a cinematic achievement that works on its own terms, beyond any semblance of marketplace pressure, and speaks to the unique power of the medium.”

. Our Brand Is Crisis Watch trailer
October 30 | Dramedy | Directed by David Gordon Green

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Loosely based on Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary Our Brand Is Crisis, the latest from director David Gordon Green (Manglehorn, Joe, Pineapple Express) stars Sandra Bullock as “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a political strategist who returns from retirement to run the campaign of a Bolivian presidential candidate. Bullock shines in a role originally written for George Clooney, but, according to critics, her performance (and those of supporting players Billy Bob Thornton, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan and Anthony Mackie) and Green’s direction aren’t quite enough to make up for the faults in Peter Straughan's screenplay.

. The Program Watch trailer
date tbd | Drama/Sports | Directed by Stephen Frears

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Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) directs this fictionalized look at the Lance Armstrong story from the perspective of journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd), whose book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong was the basis for John Hodge’s script. Ben Foster plays Armstrong in a performance praised by critics, but he is matched (if not surpassed) by Jesse Plemons’ portrayal of Floyd Landis. Unfortunately, the consensus suggests that the film as a whole doesn’t live up to the actors at its center.

. Rabin, the Last Day
date tbd | Foreign/Drama/Thriller | Directed by Amos Gitai

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As its title suggests, Amos Gitai’s latest feature tries to tackle Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and the aftermath that followed. The film blends archival footage with dramatic, fact-based re-enactments to understand what made this tragedy possible and how it impacted Israel’s future. With the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s death approaching, critics feel that Gitai has made a solid tribute to his lost countryman.

. Remember
January 15, 2016 | Drama/Thriller | Directed by Atom Egoyan

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Perhaps Atom Egoyan can find solace in the fact that most critics think his latest is an improvement on his previous film, The Captive. Christopher Plummer stars as Zev, a Holocaust survivor suffering from dementia, who escapes his nursing home and, with the help of his friend Max (Martin Landau), tries to hunt down the Nazi commander who killed their families. While critics were split on the film as a whole, even those who found Remember forgettable thought Plummer acquitted himself well.

TIFF PEOPLE'S CHOICE WINNER
. Room Watch trailer
October 16 | Drama | Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

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While it might not reach the heights of its source novel (the story of a mother and son who escape the 10-by-10-foot space where they have been trapped for more than five years), director Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s Room (from a script written by the author) earned very good reviews based on the strength of the performances by leads Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay. The film won what is arguably TIFF's top honor, the People's Choice Award, which, though awarded based on ratings submitted by festival attendees (rather than a juried vote), is often a stepping stone to Oscar consideration. Six of the past seven People's Choice winners were also Academy Award best picture nominees, with three of those films ultimately winning the Oscar.

. Spotlight Watch trailer
November 6 | Drama | Directed by Thomas McCarthy

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For writer-director Thomas McCarthy (Win Win, The Visitor, The Station Agent), Spotlight looks to be a return to form after he stumbled with the Adam Sandler-starring The Cobbler. Co-written with Josh Singer, the true story follows the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team as they investigate allegations of widespread child molestation and systematic cover-up in the Catholic Church. For Indiewire’s Eric Kohn, Michael Keaton stands out from the strong ensemble (that also includes Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Brian D’Arcy James, John Slattery, Billy Crudup, and Stanley Tucci), giving a “nuanced turn” full of “rich ambiguities.”

. Steve Jobs Watch trailer
October 9 | Drama | Directed by Danny Boyle

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Starring Michael Fassbender as the titular Apple co-founder and directed by Danny Boyle from an Aaron Sorkin script loosely based on Walter Isaacson’s book, this uniquely structured biopic earned very good reviews for Fassbender’s portrayal, but critics were split on how well Boyle’s direction meshed with Sorkin’s script. THR’s Todd McCarthy believes “Boyle’s electric direction temperamentally complements Sorkin’s highly theatrical three-act study,” but David Ehrlich of TimeOut New York claims that “even Fassbender’s miraculous performance can’t save director Boyle from himself.”

. Suffragette Watch trailer
October 23 | Drama | Directed by Sarah Gavron

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The consensus on this film about the UK’s suffragette movement from writer Abi Morgan (The Invisible Woman, The Iron Lady) and director Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane) is that Carey Mulligan is better than the movie in which she stars. Mulligan plays Maud, a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she becomes an activist in the fight for women’s voting rights. Variety’s Justin Chang calls Mulligan’s performance “affecting” and “skillfully modulated,” and Catherine Shoard of The Guardian claims it is “brilliantly understated.”

. Sunset Song
date tbd | Drama | Directed by Terence Davies

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The latest from writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea), an adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 1932 Scottish novel about a young woman (Agyness Deyn) growing up on a farm at the beginning of the 20th century, surprisingly split critics. Nikola Grozdanovic of The Playlist claims it’s “a remarkable experience,” but the A.V. Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky dismisses it as a “stultifying exercise in studious classicism.”

. Trumbo Watch trailer
November 6 | Drama | Directed by Jay Roach

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In this biopic from director Jay Roach (Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, The Campaign), Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, the successful screenwriter whose career came to an end when he (and many others) were blacklisted during the 1950s for their political beliefs. For the most part, critics embraced Cranston’s performance, though some commented that it veered close to caricature at times. But the film as whole, while entertaining, disappointed more than one critic.

. Truth Watch trailer
October 16 | Drama | Directed by James Vanderbilt

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The directorial debut of Zodiac screenwriter James Vanderbilt is an adaptation of Mary Mapes’ memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power, an account of her 2004 60 Minutes report about President George W. Bush’s National Guard service that resulted in CBS firing both her and Dan Rather (played in the film by Robert Redford). Cate Blanchett plays Mapes in a “stellar performance that rates among her best,” according to THR’s Todd McCarthy. However, the film’s reviews, while solid, aren’t quite as good as Blanchett’s.

. A War
date tbd | Foreign/Drama | Directed by Tobias Lindholm

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Writer-director Tobias Lindholm’s follow-up to A Hijacking tells the story of a soldier, played by A Hijacking star Pilou Asbæk, on a routine mission in Afghanistan, where he makes a decision that impacts his life forever. Critics found it to be another precisely directed, well-acted and sensitively told story from the Danish filmmaker.

. Where to Invade Next
date tbd | Documentary | Directed by Michael Moore

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The title of Michael Moore’s latest documentary is misleading: it is not America’s tendency toward war that he is investigating. Instead, it is Moore who is invading other countries, to steal their best ideas. So he visits France and takes their school lunch and sex education programs. In Slovenia, he admires how their colleges are free, and he looks at Norway’s prison system. According to critics, it’s more lighthearted and optimistic than his recent work, despite being a bit too simplistic.

What do you think?

Which of these festival films are you looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments section below.

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    May 5, 2020 - 234 comments
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