Every year, when covering TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), I take the train from Montreal to Toronto as sort of a pre-fest ritual. Sure, flying would be quicker, but I like to spend the time on the train planning my coverage of the fest. On the train this year, something occurred to me – this is my 14th year in a row covering the festival. Since 2009, I’ve been making my way to the festival to cover all of the best fall movies showcased, with 2020’s edition being a bit of a bummer as it was a stay-home version due to the pandemic, while 2021’s was a hybrid (I was here – but it just wasn’t the same).
This year is being pegged as the fest’s grand return to the scale it was at in pre-pandemic years, and sure enough, it’s boasting a killer line-up of awards contenders, curios and crowdpleasers. I plan on covering most -if not all – of the big titles, including all the hits and misses (yes – TIFF isn’t immune to misses as last year’s Dear Evan Hansen showed us).
Here’s a taste of what we plan on covering:
While you’d think a star-studded movie like Glass Onion or The Fabelmans would be the hardest premiere ticket to get, it was actually Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale which is the one everyone’s jockeying to get. Everyone is psyched to see Brendan Fraser’s big comeback movie, with him starring as a housebound, morbidly obese English teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter. While the discourse around this is already exhausting (since when did fat suits get so controversial?), Fraser will no doubt be brilliant, and I hope this is the beginning of a proper comeback for this well-loved actor.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out was a big success as the last proper TIFF back in 2019. Netflix, who will now distribute the film (as opposed to the original’s Lionsgate), is hoping lightning strikes twice, with them shelling out for a big Gala premiere. Not much is known about the concept yet, other than that it follows Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc on another mystery, this time moving the setting to Greece and featuring another star-studded ensemble.
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale is likely the biggest coup of the festival season, with the great bearded one usually opting to open his films outside the festival corridor. After all, what does he need in terms of festival exposure? Any film fan will hear the name Spielberg and automatically be in. The fact that he not only brought the film to the festival but will be appearing for a Q&A proves that this is indeed a special film for him, and I’m curious to see how his passion project came together. After all, this was the film he chose to make rather than Indiana Jones 5!
The Banshees of Inisherin
In Bruges is one of my favourite movies of all time. This marks the long-awaited big-screen reunion of writer/director Martin McDonagh with stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in this tale of friendship gone awry. The buzz out of Venice is that this movie will earn Colin Farrell his first (!) Academy Award nomination, which is crazy when you think of it. I mean, how was he not nominated for In Bruges? Or heck, even The Lobster or Killing of a Scared Deer? The time has come to give this man some kudos.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
One of the things everyone always mentions when they talk about Weird Al Yankovic is how clean-cut he is. He doesn’t swear; he doesn’t drink or do drugs. There’s never been a whiff of controversy around him. As such, it’s fitting that when crafting a biopic, Weird Al decided to satirize his life mercilessly, as he’s done with many, many songs. In this Roku film, Daniel Radcliffe plays a smoking, drinking, hardcore version of Weird Al in his rise to fame and fortune, including a (totally fake) dalliance with Madonna. This one is high on my list as a fan of Al’s.
Of course, there’s loads of other stuff playing, including Apple TV’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever, starring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe and Bill Murray, and The Son starring Hugh Jackman, Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light and many more. Check back here every day during the fest for news and reviews!