The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the movie year, as plenty of Oscar-bait projects annually make their debut at the fest, drumming up buzz and reviews ahead of their full theatrical releases. TIFF 2019 is certainly no exception to this rule, as there are projects being screened from a variety of genres. And while there is plenty of movies hitting the city during the next two weeks, there are certain movies that stand out among the rest.
There are plenty of movies coming to TIFF this year, but I took a look at ten of the biggest coming to the Toronto Film Festival, some of which may have the opportunity to get some legs for awards season later this year. Will they all be critical successes in the first rounds of reviews? Only time will tell.
Todd Phillips' Joker has been a movie on a lot of people's radars since it was first announced. The Joker-led movie has been billed as a wholly unique supervillain flick, one that doesn't take direct inspiration from anything on the page. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, who will be given an origin story before eventually becoming Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime. The movie has its first screening at the Venice Film Festival, but more outlets (including CinemaBlend) will be present for Joker's screening at the Toronto Film Festival.
Rian Johnson has had a fanbase thanks to movies like Looper and Brick, but he recently became a household name after directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, possibly the most divisive installment in the long-running space opera. Johnson will eventually craft his own trilogy of Star Wars movies, but Knives Out marks his first follow-up to Episode VIII. The movie is a black comedy take on a Whodunit movie, with a killer cast that includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette, and Daniel Craig. The trailer teased a bonkers and genre-breaking movie, so it should be interesting to see if Rian Johnson maintains his high profile outside of the galaxy far, far away.
Biopics are a tried-and-true genre in filmmaking, and one that is going to represent fairly significant during 2019's Toronto Film Festival. Tom Harper's The Aeronauts will be more of a biographical adventure, focusing on Pilot Amelia Rennes and scientist James Glaisher as they experiment with a massive gas balloon. They must eventually fight for their survival in the air, and the first trailer teased an epic and character-driven story. The Aeronauts stars Rogue One's Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, and will have its wide release in December of 2019.
Jill Culton's Abominable will stand out among TIFF participants in the fact that it's an animated blockbuster. The upcoming family-friendly movie follows teenager Yi (voiced by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Chloe Bennet), who meets and befriends a Yeti on the roof of her Shanghai rooftop. She and her friends decide to bring the creature, whom they've nicknamed Everest, back to its home. The voice cast is rounded out by Sarah Paulson, Eddie Izzard, and Albert Tsai.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
This one is sure to give TIFF audiences a serious case of nostalgia and the feels. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is another biopic hitting TIFF, focusing on the life and career of Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fame. Marielle Heller's movie stars the great Tom Hanks as the protagonist, and he'd already got some Award buzz surrounding his performance. The drama has its roots in reality, based on the Esquire article "Can You Say... Hero?," where a journalist met Mr. Rogers and his perspective on life was changed in the process.
Judy will round out the biopics at Toronto Film Festival, although it will stand out as it will also contain plenty of music. Renee Zellweger stars as the iconic Judy Garland in the movie, which is set in 1969. Zellweger is lending her voice to the role in her first movie/musical since Chicago, returning to the business of filmmaking after a years-long hiatus. Judy has gotten a positive reception so far, so it'll be interesting to see how/if that changes when more audiences and critics see the flick at TIFF.
Wide audiences were introduced to director/actor Taika Waititi with Thor: Ragnarok, which was a game-changer for the Marvel franchise. Waititi breathed new life into the property, and his acting performance as Korg was an added contribution. He's both starring in and directing Jojo Rabbit, a black comedy/drama which features the filmmaker playing none other than Adolf Hitler. The trailers seem to indicate a super wild movie, with a cast including Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson. The movie will get its theatrical release in October, but its premiere and first reviews will come courtesy of the Toronto Film Festival.
Ford v Ferrari
Ford v Ferrari is arguably one of the most hotly anticipated movies coming to TIFF, mostly because of its stellar cast/crew. Directed by Logan filmmaker James Mangold, the upcoming drama tells the story of Ford and Ferrari's competition back in 1963. Matt Damon and Christian Bale lead the movie's cast, as a pair of automotive drivers and engineers aiming to put Ford ahead of the competition. The pair of actors make an exciting duo, especially so soon after Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio's collaboration in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Bale and Damon have both done well during awards season in the past, so we'll see if the new movie will do the same for 20th Century Fox and Disney after Ford v Ferrari debuts at TIFF.
John Crowley's The Goldfinch looks like it'll be an emotional drama with possible legs during Awards Season. Based off the acclaimed novel of the same name by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch follows the life of Theo Decker (Taron Egerton), as he grows up in the wake of trauma and terror. Theo saw his mother die in a bombing at the Metropolitan of Art, and the upcoming movie will see him continue to struggle with that event. The movie has a cast including Nicole Kidman, Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, and Dennis O'Hare.
Obviously there are more than ten movies hitting the Toronto Film Festival, so there are plenty of entries that weren't included on this list. The festival has some very exciting projects, and it will be fascinating to see how each one performs in front of a captive audience. Their respective reception may indicate how each movie is marketed ahead its major release, so it's a potentially major week in the film world.
CinemaBlend will keep you updated on the latest news, including our early reviews of projects appearing at TIFF. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.