Eight TIFF movies that we expect to see on the Oscar ballot

Eight TIFF movies that we expect to see on the Oscar ballot

American period dramas, a flashy western remake and other celebrated picks that are already planning to thank the Academy

Deepwater Horizon

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich
Director: Peter Berg
In the running for: Best Actor
The Academy is a sucker for films that capture turbulent, based-on-a-true-story snapshots from recent history (Argo, Spotlight, Captain Phillips), and Deepwater Horizon fits the bill perfectly. The retelling of 2010’s disastrous BP oil spill is guaranteed to put Mark Walhberg in the running for a Best Actor nod.


American Pastoral

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning
Director: Ewan McGregor
In the running for: Best Director, Best Screenplay
Philip Roth’s novel already won a Pulitzer, and the story—about about a cookie-cutter middle-class family falling apart in post-war America—ticks all sorts of Oscar-bait boxes right off the bat: political undertones, class commentary, historical setting. Now, the question is whether Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut can parlay the tale into a golden statuette.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF
Nocturnal Animals

Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Tom Ford
In the running for: Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design
Tom Ford’s lush debut, A Single Man, earned Colin Firth a Best Actor nomination. We expect his sophomore effort to be equally opulent (if it is, Ford could easily rack up accolades in set design and costuming). The suspenseful film tracks Amy Adams’ character slow mental disintegration, provoked by similarities between her life and a roman à clef penned by her onscreen husband, Jake Gyllenhaal.


Queen of Katwe

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga
Director: Mira Nair
In the running for: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress
The Oscars love inspirational true stories. Even better when they’re full of excellent actors. Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and newcomer Madina Nalwanga dazzle in this story about a 10-year-old Ugandan prodigy who uses her unbeatable chess instincts to escape her own poverty.


It’s Only The End Of The World

Cast: Nathalie Baye, Vincent Cassel
Director: Xavier Dolan
In the running for: Best Director
Montreal auteur Xavier Dolan already nabbed the coveted Grand Prix at Cannes with his poignant film about a terminally ill son’s unexpected homecoming. We won’t be surprised if it earns him his first Oscar nomination (or even win), too.


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 Photograph courtesy of TIFF
I Am Not Your Negro

Director: Raoul Peck
In the running for: Best Documentary
I Am Not Your Negro doesn’t have the solution to America’s current race problem, but it’s a look at why neither the old civil-rights marches nor contemporary activism has stabilized U.S. race relations. The documentary taps into the zeitgeist, tracing links between household names (Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr.) and names that are still painfully fresh (Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice).


The Magnificent Seven

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
Director: Antoine Fuqua
In the running for: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor
The Oscars typically pooh-pooh traditional high-octane action flicks (e.g. Transformers) but fall for suspenseful, stylized pathos parties (e.g. No Country for Old Men). We suspect Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the classic 1960 western is more like the latter. It’s likely to chart big in the coming awards season, if only for bringing Denzel Washington back to the big screen.


La La Land

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Director: Damien Chazelle
In the running for: Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song
The last musical to earn any Oscar buzz was 2014’s Into The Woods. If anyone can put another song-and-dance flick on the Academy’s radar, it’s director Damien Chazelle, who folded rhythm into cinema with his exceptional Whiplash. Featuring idyllic sets and an alluring colour palette, La La Land could be an outsider Oscar fave for viewers who’ve had enough of the dark, convoluted stories and want a simple tale of love in Los Angeles.