It’s that wonderful time of year again. The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off Thursday and will run until Sept. 14. For your convenience, The Ryersonian’s Laura Calabrese compiled TIFF synopses of 10 must-see films that are playing at the Ryerson Theatre.
If you weren’t lucky enough to snag tickets, remember you can always “rush.” Rush tickets are sold 10 minutes before the movie starts. It’s first come, first served — so make sure to lineup early, especially for films with big-name actors. (See The Ryersonian’s guide to rush lines here).
With an incredible line up of over 300 films, there’s something for everyone. TIFF is known for creating Oscar buzz, with the last seven Best Picture winners all having played at the festival in previous years.
For Ryerson students, it’s the perfect time to stargaze and to snap a photo of your favourite A-lister. Whether you’re a movie junkie or you happen to have a long break in your school schedule, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take part in the festival.
Tweet us @theryersonian or comment below to let us know what your favourite films are.
You can find the official film schedule here.
1. Men, Women & Children
Ryerson Theatre: Sat., Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. (world première)
Director: Jason Reitman
Based on the novel by Chad Kultgen, Men, Women & Children is an insightful drama that examines the enormous social change that has come from digital communication. Starring Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner and Ansel Elgort, the film tells the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents, who attempt to confront the ways that the internet has changed their relationships, self-perception and love lives. Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) cleverly uses graphics to depict the fast-paced style of text messaging that we are accustomed to. With its cultural critique of our incessantly plugged-in generation, this film is a must-see.
2. The Sound and the Fury
Ryerson Theatre: Sat., Sept. 6 at 9 p.m.
Director: James Franco
James Franco teams up again with This is the End co-stars Seth Rogan and Danny McBride in his latest directorial effort, The Sound and the Fury, based on William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize-winning novel of the same name. Set in Jefferson, Miss., in the early 1900s, the story centres on the decline of the Compson family as they spin out of control. Franco plays the developmentally challenged Benjy, who has difficulty keeping track of time. The film explores the themes of resentment, desire and pride.
Ryerson Theatre: Sat., Sept. 6 at 9 p.m.
Director: Dan Gilroy
Jake Gyllenhaal lost 30 pounds to play the twisted videographer in Nightcrawlers, the directorial debut of Dan Gilroy. Set in Los Angeles, the dark drama focuses on Lou Bloom (Gyllenhaal), who becomes a nightcrawler, roaming the streets taking photos and videos of car accidents, robbery victims and home invasions, which he sells to local TV stations. Bloom attempts to work his way into crime journalism, but seems oblivious to the wrongs of his hunt for footage. It will be exciting to see Gyllenhaal take on such a dark role.
4. The Last Five Years
Ryerson Theatre: Sun., Sept. 7 at 8:30 p.m.
Director: Richard LaGravenese
The Last Five Years is a musical adaptation of a 2002 off-Broadway production. It tells the story of struggling actress Cathy Hyatt (Anna Kendrick) and her five-year relationship with novelist Jamie Wellerstein (Jeremy Jordan). The film captures their relationship from two perspectives. Cathy’s story begins with their separation, while Jamie’s story is told from their first encounter. Director Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra, P.S. I Love You) beautifully captures the hope of a couple in a young, doomed romance.
5. The Equalizer
Ryerson Theatre: Mon., Sept. 8 at 12 p.m. and Sun., Sept. 14 at 3 p.m.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Director Antoine Fuqua, known for vengeance action films like Training Day and Shooter, is in familiar territory with The Equalizer. Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is an ex-CIA agent who seeks a quiet and reserved life in retirement. But when he meets a young escort (Chloë Grace Moretz) at a diner, he can’t stand by as the Russian crime gang she works for violates her. His lethal impulses are triggered, and suddenly he finds himself on a quest for justice. I have high hopes for this film and can’t wait to see Washington’s performance.
Ryerson Theatre: Mon., Sept. 8 at 3:15 p.m.
Director: Damien Chazelle
As one of the breakout films at Sundance this year, Whiplash promises to deliver. The film tells the tale of an aspiring musician, Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), who will do anything to secure a position in his jazz instructor’s elite ensemble. But the two don’t see eye to eye. His teacher, Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) has some abusive techniques that leave Neyman blistered and drained. Teller and Simmons’ performances have been raved about, and the film took home the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance. Whiplash is off to a hot start and is definitely a must-see.
7. Still Alice
Ryerson Theatre: Tues., Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. and Thurs., Sept. 11 at 12 p.m.
Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland
Make sure to bring a box of Kleenex for this tearjerker. When small things start to slip her mind, renowned professor of neuroscience, Dr. Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) shrugs it off. But soon, she is lost roaming the streets of Manhattan and diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. This is only the beginning of her struggle in retaining her sense of self. Her condition puts her marriage to the test, but it does allow her to connect with her youngest daughter (Kristen Stewart), with whom she has never had a great relationship. The cast also includes Alec Baldwin and Kate Bosworth. Still Alice is an intriguing drama that shows how difficult it is to maintain your identity once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
8. The Voices
Ryerson Theatre: Thurs., Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. (Canadian première)
Director: Marjane Satrapi
The Voices is a strange horror-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds. It tells the tale of what can happen when you stop taking your medication. Reynolds plays Jerry, a handsome, shy guy who is on a strict regimen of antipsychotics. He falls for a colleague and gets stood up when he asks her on a date. When Jerry stops taking his medication, he begins to think his pets are talking to him, and things take a dark turn. Whether you’re going to the première just to catch a glimpse of Reynolds (and hopefully his wife Blake Lively), or to see the film, it promises to be a good night.
9. Pawn Sacrifice
Ryerson Theatre: Fri., Sept. 12 at 3 p.m.
Director: Edward Zwick
Edward Zwick’s (Blood Diamond, Defiance) latest film Pawn Sacrifice is a must watch. The film is based on the famous 1972 World Chess Championship match between American player Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and his Russian rival Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber). Rather than just focusing on the match itself, the film dives into the players’ psyches, and we learn what they are thinking. Pawn Sacrifice also illustrates Fisher’s deteriorating mental state. Maguire’s performance is supposed to be stellar, and who knows — maybe he’ll be nominated for his first Oscar.
10. Top Five
Ryerson Theatre: Sat., Sept. 13 at 9 p.m.
Director: Chris Rock
The legendary Chris Rock writes, directs and stars in Top Five. After receiving a bad review in the New York Times, comedian Andre Allen (Rock) is determined to rebrand himself as a “serious” actor. Kevin Hart, along with Jay Pharoah and Sherri Shepherd, co-star in the movie. Hart plays Allen’s agent who helps Allen reinvent himself. This is the first film Rock has directed since I Think I Love My Wife (2007). With its hilarious cast, this film will keep you laughing the whole way through.