On the eve of TIFF, here are the top 15 films I’m most excited to see.
1. Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También) directs George Clooney and Sandra Bullock trapped in space. The reviews from Venice were beyond rhapsodic.
2. 12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) resurrects a 19th-century memoir, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt.
3. Prisoners – Quebec director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) makes his Hollywood debut with an abduction drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
4. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in a biopic directed by Justin Chadwick.
5. The Square – Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) directs a lavish documentary epic about the revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
6. The Unknown Known – Once again Errol Morris (The Fog of War) trains his metaphysical magnifying glass on America’s military. His subject: former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Morris is the ultimate time-lapse antidote to CNN.
7. Can a Song Save Your Life – John Carney (Once) directs Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Catherine Keener in a music industry drama about an undiscovered singer and a washed-up producer.
8. All Is By My Side – Outkast’s Andre Benjamin plays Jimi Hendrix in a portrait of the guitarist as a young man, written and directed by John Ridley, who also scripted 12 Years a Slave.
9. The Dallas Buyers Club – Quebec virtuoso Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria, C.R.A.Z.Y.) directs Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto in the true story of accidental AIDS activist Ron Woodroof.
10. The F-Word – Daniel Radcliffe and Zoey Kazan star in a romantic comedy by Canada’s Michael Dowse (Goon, FUBAR).
11. Tim’s Vemeer – Illusionists Penn and Teller turn into documentary filmmakers and unravel the mysterious methods behind the photorealist paintings of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.
12. Belle – Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, biracial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.
13. Visitors – This pure spectacle, a black-and-white rhapsody sans dialogue, comes from Geoffrey Reggio, director of the Qatsi trilogy of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi. It will be screened with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing a score by Philip Glass. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.
14. Finding Vivian Maier – When Vivian Maier died in 2009 at age 83, she left behind more than 100,000 negatives of her street photography. They were discovered by a 26-year-old amateur historian in Chicago. This film unravels their mystery.
15. The Wind Rises – This animated feature from master Hayao Miyazaki spans decades, inspired by Jiro Horikoshi, designer of Japan’s Zero fighter jet, and the writer Tatsuo Hori.