Without a doubt, something extraordinary will happen in the next 10 days; we just know it. The moveable feast that is the Toronto International Film Festival is serving up 393 films on 28 screens this year, 240 of which are world or North American premieres from 79 countries; and we're starving for something special. For the record, Boise Weekly won't be at all of the screenings. Yes, we've been known to endure more than 50 films in 10 days (we don't recommend that for amateurs), but the marathon affords us the opportunity to give our readers a first taste of what will satisfy their movie-going palates over the coming months.
What continues to distinguish the Toronto smorgasbord--and it's the chief reason we return each September--is that it is truly a people's festival. Unlike the Cannes, Sundance, Venice and Telluride festivals, hundreds of thousands of ticket-holders fill more than two dozen Toronto cinemas during TIFF, eager to consume comedies, dramas, documentaries, shorts and get to know some of Hollywood's biggest names, quite often up-close and personal.
From this year's menu, here's an alphabetical appetizer of some of the films that we can't wait to cue for:
The Equalizer--Denzel Washington stars in the big screen adaptation of the cult '80s TV action thriller.
Foxcatcher--Major Oscar buzz is swirling around this story of a tragic relationship between an eccentric millionaire and two champion wrestlers. Steve Carell is said to turn in a chilling performance.
The Humbling--Al Pacino in a story of sex, suicide, age and acting.
The Imitation Game--Benedict Cumberbatch in the true story of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who cracked the Nazi Enigma Code and helped win WWII, yet was prosecuted by his own government for being homosexual.
The Judge--It's exciting to see Robert Downey Jr. in anything other than Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes. Here, he's teamed with Robert Duvall and Billy Bob Thornton in a crackling courtroom drama.
Love and Mercy--The true story of how mental illness haunted Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.
Manglehorn--Pacino again walks the red carpet for the screening of this film about a small-town locksmith and lost love.
Men, Women and Children--Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) returns with this comedy/drama starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner.
Mr. Turner--Timothy Spall took home the Cannes Best Actor award for this biopic of eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner.
Pawn Sacrifice--Tobey Maguire and Liev Schreiber portray chess legends Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.
Rosewater--The Daily Show's Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with the true story of Maziar Bahari, whose 2009 appearance on Stewart's show triggered a five-month imprisonment in Tehran, Iran.
St. Vincent--Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. Sold. I'm in. Tell me where to line up.
The Theory of Everything--This biopic tells the extraordinary story of young Stephen Hawking as he falls in love with Jane (now his wife), a fellow Cambridge student.
While We're Young--Director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Greenberg) returns with his unique sense of comedy, along with Ben Stiller, Adam Driver and Naomi Watts.
Whiplash--The much-anticipated drama that pits an ambitious young drummer against a Svengali-like instructor.
And we take particular delight in TIFF's Midnight Madness, where outrageous horror, sci-fi and black comedies engage audiences till dawn. This year's slate of late-night snacks includes Kevin Smith's creepy Tusk, a story about a popular podcast host, a reclusive millionaire and, well, tusks.
If you can, dear readers, pack your bags and join us in Toronto. If you can't make the trip, we'll be dishing out regular updates at boiseweekly.com/blogs/Cobweb.