Toronto International Film Festival ’11 – Day Zero: What to Expect When You Are Expecting

The most entertaining ten days of the year to be in Toronto begin tomorrow. Hollywood stars will roam the city streets once done promoting their movies. Most of them have the Academy Awards in mind: TIFF is known for launching successful Oscar campaigns. Just last year, audiences got their first taste of The King’s Speech. At the time, I didn’t care much for it. I wonder what massive success I’ll callously dismiss now.

This year, the two biggest stars in the world, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, are making an appearance. Clooney has two movies, both with high Oscar hopes. In The Descendants, he is a cuckolded widow unable to relate to his teenage daughters. In The Ides of March (which he also directed), the A-lister is a presidential candidate with a murky past. Clooney would never confess it, but he is probably expecting a re-edition of the Syriana-Good Night and Good Luck double nomination from four years ago. And maybe another shot to the Sexiest Man Alive title.

Brad Pitt only has one movie in Toronto, but it’s widely expected to be the equivalent to The Social Network. Moneyball, about the team manager who revolutionized baseball by using statistic analysis is a brainy drama for sports lovers. Those who think baseball is the most senseless and boring activity in the history of mankind and probably the universe, may tolerate it for a couple of hours. There is Oscar talk for Pitt, director Bennett Miller (Capote) and Jonah Hill. Yes, the chubby kid from Superbad may win an Academy Award.

Canada’s favorite daughter Sarah Polley will introduce her film Take this Waltz, with the much-in-demand Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. Considering her previous effort was the celebrated Away from Her, the expectations are extremely high. Polley is a superior actress and filmmaker, with an unfortunate tendency to take herself too seriously. My favorite movie of hers is Dawn of the Dead, and it’s unlikely she’ll ever revisit the genre.

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to Cannes stand-outs Lars Von Trier’ Melancholia and the sure-to-be-devastating We Need to Talk About Kevin, with Tilda Swinton as the mother of a Columbine-like shooter. Also, the latest of documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney), who is said not to pull any punches in Sarah Palin: You Betcha!

Michael Fassbender (a.k.a. the next big thing) has two strong flicks this year: The Freud v. Jung rumble A Dangerous Method, and the sex addiction drama Shame, from the same guy who put him through hell in Hunger, Steve McQueen. Equally ubiquitous is Ryan Gosling, who is supposed to be electric in Drive (he is also in Clooney’s Ides of March.) Even though Gosling is the talk of the town, I have higher hopes for Fassbender.

The French duo responsible for the super disturbing Inside –Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury- is at it again in Livid, in which three thieves actually open Pandora’s Box. I hope to interview the pair just to ask them “what’s wrong with you?” John Lydon, better known as Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten, is producing his first film –Sons of Norway– about punk’s influence in the Slavic youth. He may know what he is talking about.

Starting tomorrow I’ll be posting my impressions over all this films and more, plus any interesting aspects of this year’s TIFF. Judging from my flight to Toronto, it’s going to be a bumpy ride, but one well worth taken.

Author: Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Journalist, film critic, documentary filmmaker, and sometimes nice guy. Member of the Vancouver Film Critics Circle. Like horror flicks, long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners. Allergic to cats.

6 thoughts on “Toronto International Film Festival ’11 – Day Zero: What to Expect When You Are Expecting”

  1. I’m curious to see how they make an exciting movie out of statistical analysis in baseball. No one dies in this movie, no one gets laid, the As don’t even win the World Series. Billy Bean’s not even discovered to be suffering from some mystical mental illness than makes him so smart. Go Riders.

  2. You’re right, duly noted Malcolm.
    Talbot: For Moneyball to work, the script needs to be very strong. Since the writers are Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, I have faith.

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