Watch above: The Toronto International Film Festival has evolved over 39 years to become the first big stop on the road to the Oscars. Mike Drolet reports.
TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is underway and nearly 400 films are ready to roll at venues around the city over the next 10 days.
But for the vast majority of people, the festival is about films — and TIFF has something for every taste.
READ MORE: Tips for snagging TIFF tickets
In addition to giving audiences a look at movies that may not open for days, weeks or months, TIFF also boasts a selection of highly-anticipated films and Oscar bait.
Here’s a look at 10 of the most buzzed-about titles at this year’s festival.
Jennifer Aniston takes a serious turn in this drama from Daniel Barnz (Beastly) as a woman in a depression support group who looks into the suicide of a group member (Anna Kendrick) while developing a relationship with the woman’s husband (Sam Worthington). Oscar buzz for Rachel from Friends? It could happen. World Premiere – Sept. 8, 2:30pm at Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres
Adam Sandler, who spent his summer in Toronto making Pixels, takes a serious turn playing a lonely New York shoe mender who finds an heirloom that gives him the ability to “walk a mile” in another man’s shoes. Directed by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent), the fable also stars Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi and Ellen Barkin. World Premiere – Sept. 11, 9pm at Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres
John Travolta stars as an art forger who is released from jail so he can spend time with his cancer-stricken son (Tye Sheridan) but ends up forced into another heist. Toronto’s own Christopher Plummer plays Travolta’s father. British director Philip Martin makes his feature debut. World Premiere – Sept. 12, 9:30pm at Roy Thomson Hall
Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote), this drama has been a long time coming. Development started in 2006 and filming was completed in early 2013. It’s the story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and brother Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), who was killed by schizophrenic John Du Pont (Steve Carell). Foxcatcher was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in May and earned Miller the Best Director prize. Bonus buzz: Carell’s prosthetic nose and Tatum in a singlet. Canadian Premiere – Sept. 8, 6pm at Roy Thomson Hall
Al Pacino plays a suicidal actor who starts an affair with a lesbian who’s half his age (Greta Gerwig) in this adaptation of the Philip Roth novel, directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man). The cast includes stars like Dianne Wiest, Charles Grodin and Kyra Sedgwick. North American Premiere – Sept. 4, 6pm at Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres
This film from acclaimed Canadian director Xavier Dolan shared the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in May and has already been lauded as one of the year’s best. TIFF audiences get to see the story of a troubled teen (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) and his volatile relationships with his mother (Anne Dorval) and neighbour (Suzanne Clement). Toronto Premiere – Sept. 9, 9:30pm at the Princess of Wales Theatre
Jake Gyllenhaal lost a lot of weight to play Lou Bloom, a petty thief who becomes an underground photographer stalking Los Angeles at night for crime scenes and car accidents. Gyllenhaal’s physical transformation and Oscar-buzz performance make Nightcrawler — from first-time director Dan Gilroy — one to catch. World Premiere – Sept. 5, 9pm at Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres
Comic and Daily Show host Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with this film about Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari and his five-month imprisonment in Iran. Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal plays Bahari. The timely subject matter — journalists working in conflict zones — and Stewart as director make this a TIFF favourite. International Premiere – Sept. 8, 6:30pm at Princess of Wales Theatre
There is so much buzz about St. Vincent — and so much love for Bill Murray — that TIFF actually over-sold two scheduled screenings and had to add a third. Written and directed by Theodore Melfi (his debut), St. Vincent stars Murray as a cantankerous retiree who loves booze, women and gambling but becomes an unlikely role model for the boy next door. Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd are also in the cast. World Premiere – Sept. 5, 9pm at Princess of Wales Theatre
A lot of the TIFF buzz last year was for Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée’s Dallas Buyers Club — which went on to win an award or two. So, naturally, his follow-up is getting plenty of attention. An adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her 1,000-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, it stars Reese Witherspoon (who also co-produced the film). Oscar voters will likely be wild for Wild. International Premiere – Sept. 8, 9pm at Roy Thomson Hall
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