As it has been for most of the last dozen or years, the Toronto International Film Festival was a major Academy Awards feeder last year: Three of the nine eventual Best Picture nominees (The Artist, The Descendants, and Moneyball) played there, while Beginners, which won Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer, premiered at the festival in 2010. Now that much of this year’s lineup has been announced, here are the 10 movies I’ll have my eye on when I head up north in September.
The first two times Joe Wright and Keira Knightley collaborated, it resulted in a nomination for either Best Picture (Atonement) or Best Actress (Pride and Prejudice). Adapting Tolstoy’s classic novel with the help of Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard seems Academy-friendly to the max.
Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort is a true story of international terrorism, cooperation, and heroism. Early buzz surrounds Alan Arkin’s scene-stealing turn as a hot-headed movie producer who mounts a fake sci-fi flick in order to rescue six hostages from Iran.
The Wachowski siblings have assembled an ambitious fantasy featuring a dream cast (including Oscar winners Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon). If it’s too out-there for Best Picture, it should still factor into several technical categories.
Hyde Park on Hudson
Bill Murray as FDR? Laura Linney in the female lead role? A heavily British cast as well? Could it be this year’s Iron Lady?
The harrowing true story of a family who survived 2005′s Thailand tsunami features strong performances from Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.
The Place Beyond the Pines
I was hoping Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to Blue Valentine was going to be ready in time for Cannes, but I’m guessing the intense-sounding drama featuring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper will be worth the wait.
Rust and Bone
Former Best Actress champ Marion Cotillard won raves at Cannes for her performance as a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident.
Titled The Surrogate when it premiered at Sundance, this drama about a man confined to an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity sparked major awards buzz for John Hawkes and Helen Hunt.
Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell follows up The Fighter with another family drama, starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who are both said to be fantastic.
To the Wonder
Is anyone else shocked that we’re getting another Terrence Malick film only a year after The Tree of Life? Considering how delayed that one was, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. This character piece features Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, and Rachel McAdams, and I’m already lining up in my mind.
Dave on Twitter: @davekarger