Every year when I cover TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), I take the train from Montreal to Toronto as a kind of pre-fest ritual. Of course it would be faster to fly, but I like to use the time on the train and plan my coverage of the festival. On the train this year, something happened to me – this is mine 14th year in a row covers the festival. Since 2009, I’ve been heading to the festival to cover all the best fall films being showcased, with 2020’s edition being a bit of a bummer as it was a stay-home version due to the pandemic, while 2021’s was a hybrid (I was here – but it just wasn’t the same).
This year is the fest’s grand return to the scale it was in the pre-pandemic years and, indeed, it boasts a fantastic array of prize-contenders, curiosities and crowd-pleasers. I plan to cover most – if not all – of the big titles, including all the hits and misses (yes – TIFF is not immune to misses like last year’s Dear Evan Hansen showed us).
Here’s a taste of what we plan to cover:
While you would think a star-studded film like Glass onion or The Fabelman family would be the hardest premiere ticket to get, it was actually Darren Aronofsky’s The whale which is the one everyone jockeys to get. Everyone is excited to see Brendan Fraser’s big comeback film, starring him as a housebound, morbidly obese English teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter. While the discourse around this is already exhausting (since when did cool suits become so controversial?), Fraser will no doubt be brilliant and I hope this is the beginning of a proper comeback for this beloved actor.
Glass onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Rian Johnson’s Knives Oht was a huge success as the last proper TIFF back in 2019. Netflix, which will now distribute the film (as opposed to the original’s Lionsgate), is hoping that lightning strikes twice as they shoot for a big gala premiere. Not much is known about the concept however, other than that, it follows Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc on another mystery, this time shifting the scene to Greece and featuring another star-studded ensemble.
The Fabelman family
Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale is probably the biggest coup of the festival season, with the big beard usually choosing to open his films outside the festival corridor. After all, what does he need in terms of festival exposure? Any movie fan will hear the name Spielberg and automatically join. The fact that he not only brought the film to the festival but will also appear for a Q&A proves that this is truly a special film for him and I’m curious to see how his passion project came together. After all, it was the film he chose to make IIndiana Jones 5!
Banshees of Inisherin
In Bruges is one of my favorite movies of all time. This marks the long-awaited big screen reunion of writer/director Martin McDonagh with stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in this tale of friendship gone awry. The buzz from Venice is that this movie will earn Colin Farrell his first (!) Oscar nomination, which is crazy when you think about it. I mean how was he not nominated for In Bruges? Or heck even The lobster or Killing a frightened deer? Time to give this man some kudos.
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
One of the things everyone always mentions when they talk about Weird Al Yankovic is how clean cut he is. He does not swear; he neither drinks nor takes drugs. There has never been a hint of controversy around him. As such, it’s fitting that in making a biopic, Weird Al decided to mercilessly satirize his life, as he has done with many, many songs. In this Roku movie, Daniel Radcliffe plays a smoking, hard-drinking, hardcore version of Weird Al in his rise to fame and fortune, including a (totally fake) dalliance with Madonna. This one is high on my list as a fan of Al’s.
Of course, there are plenty of other things at play, including Apple TVs The biggest beer run everstarring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe and Bill Murray, and The son with Hugh Jackman, Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light and many more. Check back here every day during the festival for news and reviews!