7 movies to see from the Toronto Film Festival

2015-09-24 22:00

Los Angeles  — The Toronto International Film Festival is the best place to get a full picture of the upcoming movie season, often those films are ultimately headed for the Academy Awards.

The general takeaway has been that the coming season may be a little weaker this year, and that the Oscar field, for now, remains wide open.

From Johnny Depp's Whitey Bulger (Black Mass) to Robert Redford's Dan Rather (Truth), an especially large number of films this season  are sure to stoke the usual accuracy debates that surround dramatisations. But their power was especially clear in Toronto, where the most moving moments came when the real-life figures were in attendance, like those at the emotional premiere of the lesbian civil-rights drama Freeheld.

Here are seven must-see movies from the festival:


The spirit of All the President's Men was alive and well in Toronto, even if it was strongest in the journalism docudrama not starring Redford. No other film was more championed at TIFF than Thomas McCarthy's engrossing procedural about the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporting of the Catholic Church's paedophilia scandal. Sure, journos like movies about themselves, especially when played by the likes of Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton. But Spotlight deserves the headlines.

Watch the trailer here:


Charlie Kaufman's first film in seven years is a stop-motion animation that arrived on the festival circuit without enormous buzz. The project started as a theatre work and depended on a Kickstarter campaign just to get made. But its handmade artistry and beguiling melancholy are wondrous. A film that seemed destined to be a small obscurity became a festival hit and was acquired by Paramount Pictures.

Watch the teaser here:

The Martian

Hollywood doesn't often combine "big" with "smart," but Ridley Scott's latest space adventure is an uncommonly intelligent spectacle. The gleefully nerdy film (2 Oct), written by Drew Goddard from Andy Weir's novel, is about an astronaut (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars. It's a large, winning entertainment that's something seldom seen through 3-D glasses: an ode to science.

Watch the trailer here:

45 Years

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star as a married couple coming up on their 45th anniversary when a letter reawakens the past and subtly frays the lived-in peace of their old age. Even the most serene relationship can quake with doubt in Andrew Haigh's masterful portrait of marriage.

Watch the trailer here:

Beasts of No Nation

Cary Fukunaga's West Africa child soldier drama will get a lot of attention for being Netflix's first original narrative release when it hits cinemas. But the movie, starring Idris Elba and the young Abraham Attah, is as beautiful as it is horrifying.

Watch the trailer here:

The Danish Girl

The handsome meticulousness and overwhelming sense of "prestige" in the latest from director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) leaves some cold. But few would doubt that The Danish Girl (29 Jan), starring Eddie Redmayne as gender-reassignment pioneer Lili Elbe and Alicia Vikander as her wife, is sure to be among the most discussed films this fall.

Watch the trailer here:

Heart of a Dog

Laurie Anderson's film, dedicated to her late husband Lou Reed, is an art-house mediation of stirring intimacy. In a flowing and artful stream of consciousness, Anderson sifts through memories of her rat terrier, Lolabelle, the nature of language and NSA surveillance. It's a hodgepodge of thoughts that aren't much on their own, but the film adds up to something heartfelt and true about life and death.

Watch the trailer here:

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