Louisa is the chief critic for Screen Zealots, a champion of independent film, and attends film festivals around the world.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is back in full swing for the first time in two years, as film critics and fans make their way to Canada's largest city to watch dozens of new projects from the hottest talent in Hollywood and beyond.
There's always an air of excitement among attendees and guests as one of the world's most prestigious film festivals gets set to debut hundreds of films, both well-buzzed about studio projects and small-budget indies.
The Screen Zealots team will be covering the festival in-person this year, and here are our top 10 most anticipated movies of TIFF:
1. The Banshees Of Inisherin
The Banshees Of Inisherin reunites the In Bruges dream team of writer/director Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and his stars, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
The Oscar-winning director returns with this story about the ending of a lifelong friendship and the steps each man takes to repair the damage. Set on a remote island in Ireland and shot by cinematographer Ben Davis, this one promises to be as visually beautiful as it is emotionally painful.
2. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
This tongue-in-cheek faux biopic started in 2010 with a very popular "Funny or Die" skit by writer/director Eric Appel that went viral and became an instant classic with Weird Al fans. This fully realized version of the "true" account of the accordion aficionado and parody singer's life promises to be just as hilarious.
The casting alone reaches geek perfection, with Daniel Radcliffe stepping into the lead role. Rounding out the cast are Evan Rachel Wood as Madonna and in a true a stroke of genius, Rainn Wilson as the infamous Dr. Demento. Expect this one to skewer all celebrity biopic conventions.
3. Women Talking
Director Sarah Polley (who also wrote the screenplay) returns with her adaptation of the novel by Miriam Toews. Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Wishaw and Frances McDormand star in this drama about women who live in a religious colony and are struggling with a culture of abuse. This is Polley's first feature film in more than a decade.
4. Good Night Oppy
Following a well-received debut at Telluride earlier this month, the space geek documentary Good Night Oppy shines the spotlight on NASA's Opportunity Rover and its 15 year exploration mission to Mars.
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The film, from director Ryan White, celebrates the team of scientists and engineers who worked tirelessly to realize their dream, sharing their joy when Oppy far outlasted the 90 days he was expected to survive. This is a film that should be exciting for curious science fans.
5. A Man of Reason
South Korea is a country known for creating some of the most exciting action thrillers in recent years (Train to Busan, The Outlaws), making A Man of Reason one of our top choices this year.
In his directorial debut, actor Jung Woo-sung (The Good, The Bad, The Weird) tells the story of a Seoul underworld kidnapping gone awry. The film promises explosive action sequences, car chases, and violent pandemonium. With Woo-sung in front of the camera as well as behind it, this is a thriller that sounds like a ton of fun.
6. Butcher's Crossing
Nicolas Cage is a hard working actor who always seems to make interesting choices, so the literary Western Butcher's Crossing is one that we are especially excited to see.
Based on the novel by John Williams (and adapted for the screen by writer Gabe Polsky), this 1870-set film stars Cage as a buffalo hunter who does his best to convince an inexperienced young man (Fred Hechinger) to join him on a dangerous and potentially deadly expedition. The story takes place in the Colorado Rockies, so expect gorgeous vistas of the wilderness from cinematographer David Gallego.
7. The Son
The latest film from Oscar-winning writer/director Florian Zeller is the follow-up to his 2020 family drama The Father, and is the second part in a trilogy of his plays.
Adapted for the screen by writer Christopher Hampton, the film tells the story of a couple (portrayed by Hugh Jackman and Vanessa Kirby) who are overjoyed after the birth of their first child. Their happiness is interrupted when the man's severely depressed son (Zen McGrath) from a previous marriage shows up and things are sent into a tailspin. This film promises to be a dramatic and emotional exploration of painful family dynamics.
It feels like it's been a while since Jennifer Lawrence has had her time in the spotlight, and the psychological drama Causeway welcomes her back to the world of acting.
In her feature directorial debut, Lila Neugebauer explores the mindset of soldiers returning from war, where Lawrence portrays a wounded Army veteran who is finding it difficult to reacclimate to her home in New Orleans. Brian Tyree Henry co-stars as a mechanic who strikes up a friendship with the physically and emotionally injured woman.
9. The Whale
After making a splash at the Venice International Film Festival (with a 6 minute standing ovation) earlier this month, director Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale has now become one of the most buzzed about titles at TIFF.
This drama about a 600-pound English professor who chooses to live the life of a recluse, eating himself to death because he's so ashamed of what he's become, certainly doesn't sound like a feel-good movie. But, this is a story of self-acceptance and learning your own worth, and Star Brendan Fraser's performance is apparently more than Oscar-worthy.
10. The Fabelmans
Few directors are as beloved at the legendary Steven Spielberg, which makes his semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans one of the hottest tickets at the festival.
Based on his childhood passion for movies and filmmaking while growing up in Arizona, Spielberg co-wrote the film with Tony Kushner. Gabriel LaBelle steps into the role as Sammy Fabelman, with Michelle Williams starring as his mother. Rounding out the cast are Paul Dano and Seth Rogen. This film is one that all movie fans likely have on their TIFF shortlist.
© 2022 Louisa Moore