Rave: Award season films

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – when superheroes have left the silver screen and studios’ award season bait films flood the theatres. It seems every week there’s a new trailer we’re watching on repeat, and we’re having trouble deciding which movie we’ll be seeing come Christmas Day. Thankfully the weather is getting chilly, so we’re not opposed to spending day after day at the movies. 


Argo (now playing)





The latest directorial effort from Ben Affleck confirms his status as a respected director. The film tells the true story of a joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six American diplomats out of Iran during the revolution in 1980. But, as this is a Hollywood film, don’t expect it to be based entirely in fact: the story is slightly exaggerated and the role of Canada is downplayed considerably. Still, odds are high that this film may earn Affleck his second Oscar. 


Lincoln (now playing)





It’s an unspoken rule that whenever the notoriously reclusive Daniel Day-Lewis stars in a film, Academy Awards follow. In Lincoln, Steven Spielberg directs Day-Lewis as the legendary president during his final few months in office. The dramatic film is set during the Civil War, when the president fights to abolish slavery and end the war. Sally Fields, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tommy Lee Jones also star.  


Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)





Silver Linings Playbook won the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and for good reason! Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this charming comedy romance (please, do not mistake this for a “rom-com”) about two outsiders struggling to rebuild their lives. The two actors’ performances alone make this film worth seeing, but we’d be remiss to neglect mentioning Robert DeNiro’s scene-stealing role as Cooper’s father.  


Anna Karenina (November 30)





Keira Knightley re-teams with director Joe Wright to take on Leo Tolstoy’s tragic novel. What sets this adaptation apart from the rest is it’s unique staging – Wright shoots the film entirely on a single soundstage. The sumptuous costumes and beautiful designs make this visually stunning film a must. We’re intrigued to see the love triangle play out on-screen between Knightley’s Anna, Jude Law’s Karenin and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky. 


Zero Dark Thirty (January 11)





This film hasn’t been receiving the same level of popular hype as some of the others on this list, but the insider buzz is steadily rising. Not surprising, as Zero Dark Thirty reunites The Hurt Locker‘s director-writer team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and features critical darling, Jessica Chastain. This film tells the story of the decade-long manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man, Osama Bin Laden. However, the biggest draw for us may be Coach Taylor (aka. Kyle Chandler) listed in the credits. 


Django Unchained (December 25)





Early word on this new flick from Quentin Tarantino is “holy crap, get ready for some violence!”. If you thought Inglourious Basterds was bad, well, brace yourself. Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as former slave, Django who is helping a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) search out his bounty. Django’s ultimate goal is to locate his long-missing wife (Kerry Washington). Leonardo DiCaprio plays the brutal Calvin Candie, proprietor of the infamous “Candyland” plantation.


Les Miserables (December 25)





If this trailer doesn’t give you goosebumps, then you have no soul. Award-winning director, Tom Hooper brings the sweeping, epic musical to the big screen for the best Christmas present we could ever ask for. The all-star cast includes Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, Russell Crowe as Javert, Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Amanda Seyfried as Cosette. Watch this behind-the-scenes vignette, which discusses how the actors all sang while filming (as opposed to mouthing the words and laying vocal tracks in a studio). Oh, and make sure you have some Kleenex handy. 

#TIFF12: Buzzy Films

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It’s back.

The city is awash in TIFF madness. One
can’t walk down the street without running into pop-up mobs of star-gazers out front of Toronto’s swankiest hotels (okay, maybe even we cast a glance at
the entrance when passing hot spots like the Templar (Target) Hotelthe Drake Hotel, the SoHo, the Hyatt and Le Germain). Most bars have an
extended 4 a.m. license for the duration of the festival,
even if half the hopeful partiers find themselves standing outside Soho House hoping to spot one of the many A-listers coming and going.

But it’s not really about catching a glimpse of Ryan
Gosling, is it? Toronto’s film fest is known as an Academy Award barometer and is truly all about the films. Here are
the films we’re most excited about, or have seen and loved the most thus far:

Billed as a “mind-bending futuristic thriller,” Looper
features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis on a mission to kill his
future self.  By all accounts, director Rian Johnson’s ability to blend genres and create something fresh and
interesting is at play again here and the result is both action-packed and
mentally stimulating. Jo-Go’s star is on the rise and, apparently, neither his
nor co-stars Willis and Emily Blunt’s performances disappoint.

An adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic and the third
collaboration of Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright (previously Atonement
and Pride & Prejudice), this film is a shoo-in for Academy nods. The trailer
alone attests to the film’s sumptuous settings and costume design and we are
excited to see Jude Law in the role of Alexei Karenin.


It was said that the novel Cloud Atlas would be impossible to adapt to film. Apparently not
for the Wachowski siblings (previously brothers) behind The Matrix and Tom Tykwer, who have directed a movie of “epic”
proportions (according to TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey himself).  The cast includes Tom Hanks, Halle
Berry, Hugo Weaving and more with appearances from Susan Sarandon and Hugh
Grant.

The premise of this film is a dog-napping scheme gone awry.
Directed by Martin McDonagh and boasting a star-studded cast, including Colin
Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits, we
can’t wait to see what happens following the theft of a ganster’s Shih Tzu…right?

Based on a true story this film, directed and starred in by
Ben Affleck, is a movie about a fake movie made by the CIA in order to get six
stranded Americans out of Tehran. It promises to be filled with suspense and
sprinkled with humor. John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Barry Livingston support
and, darn it, Ben Affleck looks good with a beard.

The list of films we’re excited about goes on. Here are some
more you should definitely check out: Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, Rebelle, Laurence Anyways, The Master, Silver Linings PlaybookHyde Park on Hudson,
Dredd 3D, Midnight’s Children,
 Inescapable
Stories We Tell and My Awkward Sexual Adventure starring Jonas Chernick and Emily Hampshire.

TIFF is also a great time to check out some up-and-coming talent. The Rising Stars Programme features young Canadian actors and actresses Charlotte Sullivan, Charlie Carrick, Tatiana Maslany and Connor Jessup. Jessup stars in the Independent Film and Festival 2012 selection Blackbird as Sean Randall: an angry and troubled teenager who finds himself in juvenile detention after being accused and arrested for a crime that he did not commit – forever reshaping his life. Maslany stars in Picture Day, directed by Kate Melville, which premieres at TIFF. She has also started filming the Jason Priestley-directed Cas & Dylan with Richard Dreyfuss.