Films I'm Excited to See at the 2018 Toronto Film Festival

by keithsim | last updated - 3 months ago

If this list looks to be missing some must-see titles bound for TIFF it's likely because I already included them on my Films I'm Excited to See at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, resulting in my Best of the 2018 Venice Film Festival list. - by Keith Simanton, Senior Film Editor

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1. Beautiful Boy (2018)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
63 Metascore

Based on the best-selling pair of memoirs from father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the heartbreaking and inspiring experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.

Director: Felix van Groeningen | Stars: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Christian Convery

Votes: 15,590 | Gross: $7.63M

Van Groeningen directed the Best Foreign Language nominee for the 2014 Oscars, the achingly beautiful The Broken Circle Breakdown. The award was taken home by The Great Beauty that season, so no shame there. I saw an extended clip of this film at CinemaCon, with Carell and Chalamet in a diner, that was so well-wrought and emotional it reminded me of the street scene between Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck from Manchester by the Sea. Both Carell and Chalamet have one Oscar nomination each to their name. I bet they have two, respectively, when January rolls around.

2. Widows (2018)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
84 Metascore

Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki

Votes: 26,124 | Gross: $42.27M

Combine Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) & co-writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and this cast and you have one of the musts of the festival. I always pay attention when an artist, such as McQueen, takes on a genre like the heist film. His ability to up the prestige and the delivery with well-known tropes and, we hope, subvert them, will be another notch in his belt.

3. Life Itself (2018)

R | 117 min | Drama, Romance

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21 Metascore

As a young New York City couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.

Director: Dan Fogelman | Stars: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin

Votes: 5,908 | Gross: $4.10M

It's a fantastic cast from the guy who created This Is Us.

4. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

R | 119 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
87 Metascore

A woman in Harlem embraces her pregnancy while she and her family struggle to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime.

Director: Barry Jenkins | Stars: KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King, Colman Domingo

Votes: 5,323 | Gross: $8.82M

Jenkins's follow-up to the Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars, Moonlight and the big moment for relative newcomer Kiki Layne.

5. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

R | 106 min | Biography, Comedy, Crime

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
87 Metascore

When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception.

Director: Marielle Heller | Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells, Ben Falcone

Votes: 3,785 | Gross: $7.75M

Rapturous reviews coming out of Telluride vaulted this film into my top 10. Oscar talk for McCarthy must make her head spin. Just a few weeks ago she starred in, and was lambasted for, what was being labeled the "worst movie of the year," The Happytime Murders. Ah, showbiz.

6. White Boy Rick (2018)

R | 111 min | Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
59 Metascore

The story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.

Director: Yann Demange | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Bel Powley, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Votes: 10,244 | Gross: $24.01M

Advance notice from Telluride has been mixed on this film but I'm a huge fan of '71, which was director Demange's film prior to this one. Plus McConaughey.

7. The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

PG-13 | 93 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

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80 Metascore

Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker and his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public.

Director: David Lowery | Stars: Robert Redford, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover

Votes: 14,784 | Gross: $11.26M

Early reports from Telluride make this sound like Redford's Nobody's Fool, a movie I like quite a lot. I'm also a very big fan of Lowery having liked Ain't Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story quite a bit. (Pete's Dragon, not so much)

8. The Front Runner (2018)

R | 113 min | Biography, Drama, History

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61 Metascore

American Senator Gary Hart's presidential campaign in 1988 is derailed when he's caught in a scandalous love affair.

Director: Jason Reitman | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons, Mark O'Brien

Votes: 1,887 | Gross: $2.00M

I not only like Reitman I think he sinks his teeth in best when there's a little bit of politics and irony involved, like Thank You for Smoking, or corporate and moral shenanigans, like Up in the Air. Lots of buzz around Jackman's performance too.

9. Ben Is Back (2018)

R | 103 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
68 Metascore

A drug addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family's home on Christmas Eve.

Director: Peter Hedges | Stars: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance, Kathryn Newton

Votes: 2,230 | Gross: $3.37M

The other troubled-youth & drugs movie besides Beautiful Boy. Pete Hedges is Lucas Hedges's dad and has made the competent Pieces of April and Dan in Real Life.

10. Green Book (2018)

PG-13 | 130 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
70 Metascore

A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Director: Peter Farrelly | Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco

Votes: 27,300 | Gross: $39.71M

You know Peter Farrelly as one part of the team, with his brother Bobby, who made There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Stuck on You. Peter also wrote Outside Providence which gave Alec Baldwin one of the best roles of his career. And one thing the Farrelly's did, when no one else was even thinking about it, was to include disabled characters and to treat them without the usual dollops of pity or imbue them magical qualities. Hell, they made fun of them and included them, just as they would their best pals at the bar. Farrelly's a humanist so this particular subject ought to be well-handled by him. Fingers crossed.

11. Red Joan (2018)

110 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The story of Joan Stanley, who was exposed as the KGB's longest-serving British spy.

Director: Trevor Nunn | Stars: Alfie Allen, Kim Allen, Stephen Boxer, Olivia Buckland

Votes: 100

Nunn probably has a storage unit somewhere where he puts the awards he's won over the years. Still he's never really had a feature film that was a box office hit so it would be nice to see this 78-year-old get just that.

12. The Land of Steady Habits (2018)

TV-MA | 98 min | Comedy, Drama

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71 Metascore

After leaving his wife and his job to find happiness, Anders befriends a drug-addicted teen, sending him down a path of reckless and shameful behavior.

Director: Nicole Holofcener | Stars: Connie Britton, Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, Charlie Tahan

Votes: 3,750

Boy there are a lot of reasons for me to be interested here. Writer/director Holofcener's last outing in that dual role was the effective, thoughtful Enough Said. Ben Mendelsohn is in it. Thomas Mann is due to have one of his projects work.

13. Manmarziyaan (2018)

156 min | Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A love triangle between a spirited young woman, her outgoing boyfriend and a fiance who's husband material.

Director: Anurag Kashyap | Stars: Abhishek Bachchan, Vicky Kaushal, Tapsee Pannu, Jasmin Bajwa

Votes: 3,834 | Gross: $0.57M

The prolific Kashyap directed movie #236 on our Top 250 list, Gangs of Wasseypur.

14. Outlaw King (2018)

R | 121 min | Action, Biography, Drama

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59 Metascore

A true David vs. Goliath story of how the 14th century Scottish 'Outlaw King' Robert the Bruce used cunning and bravery to defeat the much larger and better equipped occupying English army.

Director: David Mackenzie | Stars: Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Rebecca Robin, Billy Howle

Votes: 37,885

I dunno, Pine still looks kind of actor-y silly in that chain mail. But Mackenzie! After years of very interesting films that often felt long (but really weren't) and that were always intriguing (Perfect Sense, Spread., Young Adam) he had a critical and commercial success with the damn-good Hell of High Water. Looking forward to it, chain mail and all.

15. High Life (2018)

R | 110 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
81 Metascore

A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.

Director: Claire Denis | Stars: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André Benjamin, Mia Goth

Votes: 998

Robert Pattinson has used his post- Twilight time in this world making interesting (though not always successful) films with very interesting directors. I think this is also the first time he's been directed in a feature by a woman.

16. Kursk (2018)

PG-13 | 117 min | Action, Drama, History

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53 Metascore

The film follows the 2000 K-141 Kursk submarine disaster and the governmental negligence that followed. As the sailors fight for survival, their families desperately battle political obstacles and impossible odds to save them.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg | Stars: Léa Seydoux, Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth, Michael Nyqvist

Votes: 1,181

Vintenberg directed movie #102 on our Top 250, The Hunt. That he followed it with the fairly pokey Far from the Madding Crowd, which may be a work forever doomed to be somewhat pokey, seems irrelevant to this film.

17. The Death and Life of John F. Donovan (2018)

123 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
28 Metascore

A decade after the death of an American TV star, a young actor reminisces the written correspondence he shared with him, as well as the impact those letters had on both their lives.

Director: Xavier Dolan | Stars: Natalie Portman, Jacob Tremblay, Thandie Newton, Kit Harington

Votes: 239

I'm a Laurence Anyways fan so I'll be ready for this one. The eclectic mix of actors in this cast, including the wonderful Sarah Gadon, the very pretty but kinda-comes-off-crazy Bella Thorne, and Jacob Tremblay (the young boy from Room), alongside the headliners promises another uniquely Dolan experience.

18. Gloria Bell (2018)

102 min | Drama, Romance

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
89 Metascore

A free-spirited woman in her 50s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs.

Director: Sebastián Lelio | Stars: Sean Astin, Julianne Moore, Holland Taylor, Michael Cera

Votes: 118

According to recent Academy rules Lelio won an Oscar, along with Chile, for A Fantastic Woman. This Looking for Mr. Goodbar plot, updated for the present, could be intriguing.

19. Greta (2018)

R | 98 min | Drama, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
59 Metascore

A young woman befriends a lonely widow who's harboring a dark and deadly agenda towards her.

Director: Neil Jordan | Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Zawe Ashton, Isabelle Huppert

Votes: 144

It's Neil Jordan so we could be looking at Byzantium or The Crying Game or Mona Lisa here! But it's also Neil Jordan so we could be looking at In Dreams or High Spirits here. Great cast though.

20. Hold the Dark (2018)

TV-MA | 125 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
63 Metascore

After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the parents of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate their son in the Alaskan wilderness.

Director: Jeremy Saulnier | Stars: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgård, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough

Votes: 22,859

Saulnier is working with his frequent collaborator, Macon Blair. Together they've brought us Green Room, Blue Ruin and Murder Party (it's low-budget great. Try it!). I really despise the plot conceit of "kids in danger" but I trust Saulnier...up to a point.

21. The Hummingbird Project (2018)

R | 111 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal.

Director: Kim Nguyen | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek, Michael Mando

Votes: 149

I was entranced by Nguyen's brutal War Witch which became a surprise nominee for Best Foreign Language film at the 2013 Oscars. He's got a lot of known names in front of the camera this time so let's see what he does with it.

22. Boy Erased (2018)

R | 115 min | Biography, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
71 Metascore

The son of a Baptist preacher is forced to participate in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.

Director: Joel Edgerton | Stars: Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, Joel Edgerton, Russell Crowe

Votes: 7,137 | Gross: $6.79M

Edgerton is not only a well-known actor (Warrior, Loving., The Great Gatsby) but he has also had a successful outing as a director with The Gift.

23. La chute de l'empire américain (2018)

127 min | Comedy

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63 Metascore

A shy and insecure delivery truck driver accidentally arrives on the scene of a major crime and happens to pick up two bags of cash and hides them in his truck. Though an interrogation of ... See full summary »

Director: Denys Arcand | Stars: Maxim Roy, Éric Bruneau, Vincent Leclerc, Rémy Girard

Votes: 277 | Gross: $2.06M

Arcand has several, successful, biting satires under his belt including my two favorites, Jesus of Montreal and The Barbarian Invasions. This sounds like a continuation of the Barbarian world, with many of the same actors though with different character names

24. Mid90s (2018)

R | 85 min | Comedy, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
66 Metascore

Follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era Los Angeles who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.

Director: Jonah Hill | Stars: Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith

Votes: 11,422 | Gross: $7.36M

Two-time Oscar nominee Hill gets behind the camera for his Eighth Grade?

25. Wildlife (2018)

PG-13 | 105 min | Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
80 Metascore

A teenage boy must deal with his mother's complicated response after his father temporarily abandons them to take a menial and dangerous job.

Director: Paul Dano | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan, Ed Oxenbould, Bill Camp

Votes: 7,636 | Gross: $1.03M

On top of a top-notch cast Dano's screenwriting collaborator is Zoe Kazan and I'm a big fan of hers. The subject matter sounds like tough sledding though but, hey, it's a film festival.

26. Teen Spirit (2018)

92 min | Drama, Music

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
52 Metascore

Violet is a shy teenager who dreams of escaping her small town and pursuing her passion to sing. With the help of an unlikely mentor, she enters a local singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Driven by a pop-fueled soundtrack, Teen Spirit is a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story.

Director: Max Minghella | Stars: Elle Fanning, Rebecca Hall, Millie Brady, Olive Gray

Votes: 103

Minghella is the son of the late, very-much lamented Anthony Minghella so the kid (well, young man) could have inherited great directing by osmosis. Or he could be his own man. Either way it's of interest.

27. Where Hands Touch (2018)

PG-13 | 122 min | Drama, Romance, War

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45 Metascore

A rites of passage story of a bi-racial teen struggling for survival in Nazi Germany.

Director: Amma Asante | Stars: Abbie Cornish, Amandla Stenberg, Christopher Eccleston, George MacKay

Votes: 648 | Gross: $0.07M

Assante directed the under-rated Belle so she's handled historical films before and has done so with great delicacy and depth.

28. Black '47 (2018)

R | 100 min | Action, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
65 Metascore

Set in Ireland during the Great Famine, the drama follows an Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, as he abandons his post to reunite with his family. Despite ... See full summary »

Director: Lance Daly | Stars: Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox

Votes: 5,186 | Gross: $0.05M

Haven't seen any of Daly's previous work but that plot outline gives me The Outlaw Josey Wales shivers.

29. Galveston (2018)

Not Rated | 91 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
57 Metascore

After escaping a set up, a dying hitman returns to his hometown of Galveston where he plans his revenge.

Director: Mélanie Laurent | Stars: Ben Foster, Jeffrey Grover, Christopher Amitrano, Mark Hicks

Votes: 5,181

Seems like cast and director couldn't attend the Premiere for this film so, by TIFF rules, it was booted out. At least that's the current line. I kept it here because I do think it looks like it's worth a look when it comes out.

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