Toronto Film Festival Preview: 25 Movies That Could Dominate Awards Season

From Call Me by Your Name to Margot Robbie’s Tonya Harding movie, this is the fest where the Oscar race begins to take shape.

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Now that Telluride is over and Venice is winding down, it’s time to turn our attention to a huge film festival that re-screens films from other festivals while also premiering a host of interesting fare. It’s time for the Toronto International Film Festival, where much of the fall movie season is unveiled, where awards campaigns take flight and sputter out, and where, at least once, Blake Lively played a blind person. What awaits us at this year’s festival? Let’s take a look.

The New Stuff

T.I.F.F. screens something like 400 films (and this is after an initiative to reduce the size of its slate), so this is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s on offer; some things are bound to get missed or overlooked. The first Thursday of the festival sees the premiere of On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of a slim, devastating little Ian McEwan novel, starring Saoirse Ronan, who will also have Telluride hit Lady Bird at the festival. Chesil Beach has a pretty small profile at the moment, but as Brooklyn proved two years ago, you should never underestimate a small period literary adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan.

Charlie Hunnam stars in a remake of prison escape drama Papillon, co-starring Rami Malek. The director is a Danish guy who has mostly done documentaries, so who knows what to expect. But that cast has me intrigued. I’m similarly curious about Outside In, starring Edie Falco and Jay Duplass and directed by Lynn Shelton, whose Your Sister’s Sister and Laggies I love. Also, any chance to see Falco on the big screen is one we should all take.

There’s no way I’m missing Molly’s Game, because why wouldn’t I be curious about a movie written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (making his directorial debut, no less) and starring Jessica Chastain as a woman running a high-class underground gambling ring? Could be a mess, could be brilliant. I’m hoping for the latter.

I feel the same way about I, Tonya, the Tonya Harding biopic starring Margot Robbie as the scandal-plagued Olympic figure skater. The film is directed by Craig Gillespie, who’s had an erratic career, veering from twee indie (Lars and the Real Girl) to horror remake (the actually pretty good Fright Night), from a Disney sports dud (Million Dollar Arm) to a Disney rescue dud (The Finest Hours). So who knows what I, Tonya will be. Though, when I interviewed Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s mom in the film, earlier this year, she told me, “I get to do some of the cruelest, darkest comedy I’ve ever been a part of. I have high hopes for it.” That sounds promising, right?

You know what else sounds promising? Kate Winslet and Idris Elba bonding, and possibly doing it, on top of a mountain. Which is just what happens in The Mountain Between Us, a plane-crash survival thriller that is such a weird choice for both actors, but what the hell. I must find out what this movie is all about—meaning, whether or not they do it on top of that mountain—so I will be first in line in Toronto.

I’m a bit more reserved about Brie Larson’s directorial debut, Unicorn Store, a comedy about a wacky young artist who has to prove she’s worthy of taking care of an actual unicorn when a mysterious store owner played by Samuel L. Jackson offers her one. That sounds like . . . a lot. But a lot isn’t necessarily bad!

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