Celeb-spotting warm-up: let the speculation begin

Celeb-spotting warm-up: let the speculation begin

TIFF bound? Tina Fey stars in The Invention of Lying (Photo by George Arriola) 

No celebrity’s attendance at TIFF has been officially confirmed, but yesterday’s announcement of opening galas and special presentations gives us a good idea of who’s expected to venture to Toronto in September. Here’s a quick breakdown of which movies are being screened and which stars we expect to see milling about Yorkville 50 days hence.

Film: Creation
One-sentence synopsis: Biopic of Charles Darwin, who is caught between his über-religious wife and his growing belief in evolution.
Director: Jon Amiel (The Core, Entrapment, The Man Who Knew Too Little).
Actors: Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly, Jeremy Northam, Toby Jones.
Wild speculation: Since it is the opening film of the festival, we predict most (if not all) of the stars and the director will be in attendance.

Film: Get Low
One-sentence synopsis: Frontier ’30s flick loosely based on the life of Felix “Bush” Breazeale, who planned his own funeral to solve an old murder case.
Director: Aaron Schneider (Kiss the Girls, Simon Birch).
Actors: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black.
Wild speculation: With a cast like this, we’ll take whomever we can get—but if Bill Murray comes, there’s a chance he’ll turn up at random parties like he does in New York.

Film: The Invention of Lying
One-sentence synopsis: A down-on-his-luck loser discovers the concept of lying in an alternate reality where everyone tells the truth.
Directors: Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson.
Actors: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Patrick Stewart, Christopher Guest.
Wild speculation:
As director and star, Ricky Gervais is most likely TIFF-bound. Bateman and Garner are also safe bets, as they were in Toronto last September.

Film: Precious (based on the novel Push by Sapphire)
One-sentence synopsis: Oprah-certified underdog story about an abused, pregnant and illiterate African-American teen trying to turn her life around by enrolling in an alternative school.
Director: Lee Daniels (produced Monster’s Ball and Shadowboxer).
Actors: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, Sherri Shepard, Paula Patton.
Wild speculation: Though her attendance is unlikely, we’d love to report on Mariah. Oprah, as producer, would be a great score for TIFF as well.

Film: The Boys Are Back
One-sentence synopsis: Adaptation of Simon Carr’s memoir of a sports writer who becomes a single parent after his wife dies.
Director: Scott Hicks (Shine).
Actors: Clive Owen, Laura Fraser, Emma Booth.
Wild speculation: Clive Owen is on a roll these days, so that could work for or against his appearance.

Film: Bright Star
One-sentence synopsis: Period piece about the affair between English poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, undertaken shortly before Keats’ untimely death.
Director: Jane Campion (The Piano).
Actors: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish.
Wild speculation: Jane Campion, to brag about how the film already got picked up at Cannes.

Film: The Informant
One-sentence synopsis: Dark comedy-thriller based on the true story of agri-industry exec turned whistle-blower Mark Whitacre.
Director: Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven through Thirteen, Erin Brockovich, The Good German).
Actors: Matt Damon, Patton Oswalt, Melanie Lynskey.
Wild speculation: Our money’s on Matt Damon. As the One X One ambassador (he took over Maple Leaf Gardens last year), he’s likely to repeat last year’s TIFF performance—having a movie being screened just increases his chances.

Film: Ondine
One-sentence synopsis: Fantasy flick about an Irish fisherman who catches a woman believed to be a mermaid in his net.
Director: Neil Jordan (The Good Thief, The Crying Game, Interview With the Vampire).
Actors: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Stephen Rea.
Wild speculation: Stephen Rea is likely the most available, but we’re hoping for antics from Colin Farrell, even if he did snub TIFF last year by not showing up for Pride and Glory.

Film: Leaves of Grass
One-sentence synopsis: Comedy about an Ivy League professor who goes back to his Oklahoma hometown, where his pot-growing twin brother plans on taking down a drug lord.
Director: Tim Blake Nelson (The Grey Zone, O).
Actors: Edward Norton, Susan Sarandon, Keri Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Melanie Lynskey.
Wild speculation: Susan Sarandon, with two major films at the festival (see below), would be smart to grace us with her presence.

Film: Solitary Man
One-sentence synopsis: A car salesman’s life falls apart due to his indiscretions at work and in the bedroom.
Director: Brian Koppelman and David Levien (writer, Ocean’s Thirteen and Runaway Jury).
Actors: Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer.
Wild speculation: Danny DeVito. What else does he have to do?