Tuesday, June 18, 2024

TIFF 2023: Films To Watch Out For

Following the Venice Film Festival, filmgoers and critics will be going to Toronto for the 48th Toronto International Film Festival. For North America, some of the films which are showing in Venice will also come to Toronto while others will make their premiere and kickstart their Oscar campaign. Last year, it was Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans which won the People’s Choice Award. While the award has a great track record in terms of getting Oscar nods, it does not guarantee wins, as The Fabelmans found out. Here are a few of those films that will come to Toronto and grab people’s attention. 

Anatomy Of A Fall

After winning the Palme d’Or, director Justine Triet’s procedural thriller makes its entrance to North America, following the story of a writer who has to prove her innocence for the death of her husband. However, the only witness who could attest to it is her blind son, making the job even more difficult. Triet took inspiration from the real-life Amanda Knox trial in Italy, with the setting in France, the defendant from Germany, but more confident in speaking English. Once again, Neon has the distribution rights of the Palme d’Or winner, following Parasite, Titane, and Triangle of Sadness.

The Boy And The Heron

The first animated film to open the festival, Hayao Miyazaki’s comeback ten years after his last film (and announcing his retirement) is highly anticipated and already acclaimed in his native Japan. There wasn’t a trailer, synopsis, or casting list before the movie made its premiere; only a poster of the film was shown. Maybe it is good to not reveal the plot details and let viewers just hop on Miyazaki’s ride as he led us within Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and his Oscar-winning Spirited Away.

The Holdovers

Alexander Payne is back for a rebound after the failure of Downsizing with this 1970s-set dramedy of an unpopular teacher (Paul Giamatti) who stays behind to look over students who can’t go home for Christmas. In particular, he watches a rebellious student (Dominic Sessa) and gets help through the period with the school’s main cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). It’s great to see Payne and Giamatti back together following their success in Sideways. Payne got the idea after watching a 1930s French film; I can only assume it was Jean Vigo’s Zero de Conduite, set in a boarding school. 

Next Goal Wins 

This film has been a long time coming. Filmed in 2020 right before the COVID lockdown, Taika Waititi’s real-life sports comedy got delayed due to COVID, a recasting and reshoots, Waititi’s time away to make Thor: Love and Thunder, and Searchlight Pictures’ decision to move the release back a year more. Michael Fassbender, who also stars in David Fincher’s The Killer, plays a soccer coach who reluctantly takes on the job of manager of the American Samoa national team, dead last in FIFA’s rankings and embarrassingly defeated 31-0 in a World Cup qualifying match. Elizabeth Olson and Will Arnett also star in this underdog story, as one can be in real life.   

Rustin 

George C. Wolfe directs this biopic about one of the most important figures of the civil rights movement who wasn’t as visible because he was always in the background. Coleman Domingo is Bayard Rustin, the man who organized the March on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech. However, Rustin was never seen in the foreground due to being subject to discrimination for being gay. Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, and Jeffrey Wright also star with Barack & Michelle Obama as executive producers; President Obama himself posthumously gave Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. 

Follow me on Twitter: @brian_cine (Cine-A-Man)

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