2014 Toronto Film Festival

TIFF 2014: Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival

Sorting through scheduling conflicts, business decisions and personal 'must sees'

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival

The line-up at this year's Toronto Film Festival has a much different feel than year's past and coming up with a list of most anticipated films isn't nearly as easy as previous years. Not because there's any lack of possible greatness, but in fact perhaps because the possibility is even greater, though in corners we may not expect.

This year's fest is without what I would call a "big" film. David Dobkin's The Judge is opening the festival but at 141 minutes and with a trailer that does very little to convince me of its quality I have a hard time expecting much from it. Reese Witherspoon's Wild from director Jean-Marc Vallee is certainly one I will be seeing, but the anticipation level isn't entirely there and the somewhat muted Telluride response of respect with caveats has lessened my anticipation ever so slightly, the same could be said for Jon Stewart's Rosewater, another film I'll almost certainly see, but wouldn't be upset if I missed it because it already has a set release date.

I would also love to say I'm anticipating Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo's Revenge of the Green Dragons, but it's screening at the only time my schedule will allow for me to see Nightcrawler... At least, based on what I'm looking at now, though I've been working this schedule and emailing publicists left and right to make everything fit... it hasn't been easy.

After that take into account I'll have already seen six films playing the festival by the time I arrive, putting me six reviews ahead and helping me open this schedule up a bit. Those films include Whiplash, Wild Tales, The Guest and Leviathan with two more to be seen today and tomorrow, before I leave Wednesday morning. This is the first time I've been lucky enough to see that many before the fest and good thing too as I wouldn't have been able to see a couple of them otherwise.

That said, below are the ten I'm most anticipating right now, but depending on scheduling it might be tough for me to even see a few of them, but I'll explain that alongside each... Let's have a look.

#10
The Face of an Angel
DIR. Michael Winterbottom

The Face of an Angel

Starring Kate Beckinsale and Daniel Brühl, this film from Michael Winterbottom tells a fictionalized version of the Amanda Knox murder case. Names have been changed and Winterbottom is approaching the story to center on a filmmaker (Bruhl) who wants to make a movie based on a book about the murder. Through a series of interviews it sounds as if this will most likely open the story up to a series of suspects as well as shed light on what it means to be a filmmaker purporting to tell a "true" story.

Of course, the first screening of this film conflicts with the screening of my next most anticipated film...

#9
The Cobbler
DIR. Thomas McCarthy

The Cobbler

One of two dramas starring Adam Sandler (the other being Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children, which I will definitely see), but certainly the one I am anticipating more than the other as co-writer and director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) has proven on more than one occasion to be an impressive dramatic storyteller.

The Cobbler centers on a lonely NYC shoe repairman (Sandler) who discovers a magical heirloom that allows him to "walk in another man's shoes". Granted, the premise sounds a little kitschy, but McCarthy's work has often walked that fine line, but he tends to always find a way to dial it back just far enough before it becomes steeped in sentimentality. Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi and Ellen Barkin co-star.

#8
'71
DIR. Yann Demange

'71 trailer
Jack O'Connell in '71
Photo: Roadside Attractions

Of all the films on my schedule and most anticipated list Yann Demange's Berlin Film Festival standout '71 may be the one I end up missing due to scheduling conflicts, but that won't stop me from wanting to see it. Starring Jack O'Connell (Starred Up, Unbroken), the film takes place over the course of a single night in the life of a young British soldier (O'Connell), following his plight as he's accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast in 1971. Unable to tell friend from foe, and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety through a disorientating, alien and deadly landscape. Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer and Sean Harris co-star.

#7
The Imitation Game
DIR. Morten Tyldum

The Imitation Game trailer
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

As much as films such as Rosewater and Wild may have slightly decreased in anticipation following the early reviews, Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game has done the exact opposite. Early reviews have ranged from positive to ecstatic, giving this one the chance of being one of the big breakouts out of Toronto. The Telluride crowd may have been on the ground floor, but it's Toronto where the true buzz really begins.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as brilliant Cambridge mathematician, cryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, who spearheaded the Enigma code-breaking operation during World War II and was later persecuted by the British government for his homosexuality. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Mark Strong and Alan Leech co-star.

#6
Pawn Sacrifice
DIR. Ed Zwick

Pawn Sacrifice

It's hard to tell what to expect from Ed Zwick's Pawn Sacrifice as there has been nothing revealed about the film until its festival announcement and the first screening of the film is an "invite only" situation and the PR reps seem to only be accepting names at the moment and waiting to let everyone know if they'll be accepted. The film is without a distributor so far and perhaps it's merely because David Fincher was at one point attached as director that my interest is piqued more than usual. Either way, I hope to see it as this will be the film's world premiere.

The docudrama tells the story of American chess phenomenon Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) as he squares off against his Russian rival Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in the 1972 "Match of the Century" in Reykjavik.

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  • andyluvsfilms

    I adore Dolan but i really didn't like Tom At The Farm, I would put Nightcrawler as my #1

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kclaw31/ kclaw31

      I would put THE EDITOR from Astron 6 at the top of my list but I'm into that sort of thing. MOMMY would certainly be at the top too. I still need to see TOM AT THE FARM, but I haven't heard to many positive things about it.

      • andyluvsfilms

        Some love it, I just thought it dull. I'll be keeping an eye on the docs.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheXWFOutlaw/ The XWF Outlaw

        Would love to see The Editor too. The Midnight Madness screening is on the night I leave, though.

    • http://twitter.com/pmachados Pedro

      I've never seen any of his movies. Would you recommend any to start?

      • andyluvsfilms

        DefinitelyHeartbeats, might still be Netflix.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    Foxcatcher would be my #1 but Nightcrawler and Mommy are ones that would be in my top 5 must sees.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/kathrynlynn/ kathrynlynn

    This looks like a really interesting line up. I haven't seen any Dolan yet, though I think I saw one of his films on Netflix, so I'll try and check that out.

    Ever since Starred Up I've been looking forward to '71.

    I haven't heard of The Face of an Angel or Pawn Sacrifice, but there's a lot of good talent attached. Can't wait to hear your thoughts.

  • http://reelprojection.com/ GothamCity151

    I can't wait to read your reviews on them. If I were going, The Last 5 Years would be my #1. Hope you get to that one.

  • hhgs

    #1 Nightcrawler
    #2 Foxcatcher
    #3 The others...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

    Thanks for good recommendations. This year I am going to San Sebastian and hopefully London too. From what's already been announced for San Sebastian, Winter Sleep is my most anticipated. It's also in TIFF. Any plans to watch Winter Sleep, Brad?

    London BFI festival usually has very similar lineup to Toronto, so I'll be eagerly waiting for your reviews.

    • EYRO

      Really?? I'm from San Sebastian city.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Silga/ Silga

        It will be my first visit to San Sebastian. Can't wait!

        • EYRO

          Hope you enjoy it. Moreover, it is not still a bad time to visit it, as in September there's still summer weather and good temperatures, taking into account that the fucking rest of the year it rains every single day. I've learned taht on september 19 Denzel Washington will be attending the festival. Ffurthermore the fest will be also attended by Antonio banderas, Melanie Griffith, benicio del Toro and Josh Hutcherson among others.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      With Winter Sleep being over three hours long the likelihood is slim. Thankfully it already has distribution and I should see it soon enough. Just one of those exceptions you have to make at a fest so you can see more movies.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    The only thing bad about TIFF is that Brad now has to miss The Identical. He must be so disappointed.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    Wish I could go. Foxcatcher would be my #1 pick.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/TheXWFOutlaw/ The XWF Outlaw

    I will be seeing 22 movies at the fest this year. My first time. Including half of this list. (Angel, Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, Mommy, While We're Here.) I would for sure see Pawn Sacrifice & The Cobbler but they play too late in the fest as I must cut my stay at TIFF to only 7 days due to expenses. St. Vincent & Imitation Game have a distro & a close release date and will see them both then. '71 is the only one I could wait for due to scheduling conflicts & Unbroken being the movie I would want to be introduced to his acting. Gonna love this fest as it is my first time, A: out on my own, B: in a foreign country, & C: my first fest.

  • http://theoscarsproject.blogspot.com Heather Martin

    I've lived just outside Toronto my whole life and I'm finally going to see a film at TIFF this year. Sadly, I'm only able to see one film, but was very excited to snag tickets for the Theory of Everything! Foxcatcher would've been amazing, but as a single ticket buyer, it wasn't going to happen. The rest of this list sounds amazing too! It's too bad I really only have time for just one!

  • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

    After perusing the lineup, here are the films I most want to see. Also, Brad, my only real concern with St. Vincent is that it seems as though it deals in some pretty dark material, yet is rated PG-13 -- I just don't want it to be watered down, though obviously that isn't always an issue. Anyways, the list:

    1. Foxcatcher
    2. Whiplash
    3. Men, Women & Children
    4. While We're Young
    5. Mommy
    6. Nightcrawler
    7. Mr. Turner
    8. The Drop
    9. The Imitation Game
    10. Wild Tales

    Others (in no particular order): '71; Clouds of Sils Maria; The Cobbler; Goodbye to Language; Leviathan; Maps to the Stars; Pawn Sacrifice; St. Vincent; Two Days, One Night; Wild; Winter Sleep

  • Jarret

    I'm going this year for the first time, I'm gonna be seeing a couple movies including Manglehorn, which is one of my most anticipated. I'm also really looking forward to Foxcatcher, Mommy, Whiplash, and a bunch of other stuff. I think both The Judge and St. Vincent will be shitty.

  • http://www.twitter.com/GregDinskisk GregDinskisk

    I'm sooo excited for Mommy it's not even funny. I'm getting way into Dolan, it's awful. There's a guy who looks like him in one of my school's dorms and me and some friends always look out for him.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3769949/ thatpj

    It seems weird but unless reviews pick up for imitation game, I don't think BP winner will be from festival

  • m1

    I won't be going to the festival but if I were given the choice to see 10 movies there I'd probably pick these.

    1. Mr. Turner
    2. Foxcatcher
    3. Wild
    4. While We're Young
    5. The Riot Club
    6. The Imitation Game
    7. Whiplash
    8. Men, Women & Children
    9. The Cobbler
    10. A Little Chaos

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/icerose/ cynthia dower

      A Little Chaos caught my eye right from the beginning. I read somewhere that Kate Winslet is very good in it and the cast is brilliant. Staley Tucci and Helen McCroy are always good to watch. Wednesday I will see the live broadcast of McCroy's Medea at the national.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Unfortunately I don't think I can see A Little Chaos, but I am interested in seeing that one too.

  • http://letterboxd.com/gman/ G-Man

    I still don't understand the anticipation for Nightcrawler. Of course I would love for it to be good, but it's a first time director, a decent cast, and no prior buzz to build anticipation. Just not sure why everyone thinks it's going to be something special...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/icerose/ cynthia dower

    The reviews for the Imitation were good but apart from the Wrap were not that brilliant. Even Variety who in a second article said it Cumberbatch should get a nod expressed reservations and Indie wire said it was uneven and gave it a B-.So my feeling is that what comes out of TIFF will be crucial, The Guardian UK paper was raving over Al Pacino's performance in Manglehorn so that would be on my list along. I do not always agree with the Guardian critic but I respect his knowledge and review analysis.Iwould also see Imitation (so I can make my own mind up outside the media buzz which seems to surround Cumberbatch at the moment)), Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler and Alan Rickman's A Little Chaos. I know the later is not getting a lot of buzz but the historical element and the quirky subject matter really draws me in. Otherwise I think there are quite a few films not showing in the last few festivals which sound interesting. If I had to number them A Little Chaos would be at the top of my list and Imitation at the bottom. I am a big fan of Derek Jacobi and loved his portrayal of Turning which one a Bafta.In addition some reviews have implied that we are not getting the gritty complexity version of Turlings life.I also feel brilliant minds with social awkwardness is becoming in a bit of a cliché,i would really love to see the Turner film get more attention. Timothy Spall is one of those brilliant actors who appears in everything from Mile Leigh to historical block busters and never misses a step. I suspect if he had been born with leading man looks he would be riding high at the moment.

  • Steve C

    I'm really hoping St. Vincent is gonna be something special, I don't think it would be my number 1 but it's high on the list.

    I think Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher are my top 2.

    I was also pretty excited to see Sandler is coming out with 2 dramatic roles . Thats refreshing .

  • http://timeforafilm.com/ Alex Thomas

    I'm not huge on Dolan (I enjoyed LAURENCE ANYWAYS, I didn't like TOM AT THE FARM) however I loved MOMMY.

    Looking forward to the coverage! Probably your #2 and #3 are my anticipated as well.