The five films we’re most excited to see at TIFF 2016
This morning, TIFF announced the first batch of films that will screen at the 41st fest this September. As usual, the 68-movie lineup is heavy on acclaimed auteurs (Werner Herzog’s Salt and Fire, Jim Jarmusch’s Patterson, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle), tony Oscar bait (Rob Reiner’s LBJ, Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe) and hits from the festival circuit (Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden). The festival always offers a little something for every cinematic taste—here are five high-profile entries we can’t see soon enough.
The Birth of a Nation
Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller
Director: Nate Parker
The Oscar race begins with this acclaimed biopic of Nat Turner, the African-American folk hero who led a slave uprising in the antebellum south. Taking its title from D.W. Griffith’s notoriously racist 1915 film, first-time director Nate Parker’s passion project was the runaway hit of this year’s Sundance, where it sold for a record-breaking $17.5 million.
The Magnificent Seven
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio
Director: Antoine Fuqua
TIFF’s opening night gala—usually reserved for Canadian mediocrities (Score: A Hockey Musical, Passchendaele) or zeitgeist-chasing prestige pics (The Fifth Estate, Creation)—goes the blockbuster route with this starry, big-budget remake of the classic western. Director Antoine Fuqua’s track record is not exactly consistent (cough, cough…Olympus Has Fallen), but teaming up with Denzel Washington again might help him recapture some of that Training Day magic.
Cast: Sandra Hüller, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski
Director: Maren Ade
An estranged father and daughter, who both suffer from depression, try to reconnect in this dark comedy from Germany. It was a favourite at 2016’s Cannes Film Festival, where critics reported that it contains one of the funniest nude scenes of all time, and a memorable singalong involving Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.”
Manchester by the Sea
Cast: Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Casey Affleck
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Kenneth Lonergan—the brilliant playwright behind the prickly, powerful films You Can Count on Me and Margaret—treats audience to a rare event: a new movie. Manchester by the Sea, which earned raves at Sundance, is his first feature in five years, an intimate drama about a man who must raise his nephew after his brother dies.
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Nicolas Cage, Zachary Quinto
Director: Oliver Stone
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a certain NSA whistleblower who became America’s most notorious Russian exile. It’s been a long time since an Oliver Stone movie generated much water-cooler buzz (i.e. you’d have to think back to when people chatted at the water cooler instead of on Twitter), but this promises to be the most sensitive topic he’s tackled since his JFK/Natural Born Killers glory days.