TIFF 2011 Preview #3

31 07 2011

Part 1 and Part 2

Habemus Papem 

What’s It About: The relationship between a therapist and a newly elected Pope who is having trouble with his new position.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. Nanni Moretti is an excellent director and this film may draw an audience due to the success of a somewhat similar film in “The King’s Speech” but I don’t like it’s chances if, what will most likely be a dialogue heavy film, is more like “The Son’s Room” than his comedic work in tone.

A Happy Event

What’s It About: A young, carefree couple has their life turned upside down with the birth of their first child.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. If director Remi Bezancon can perfectly balance humor and drama this film could very well be the surprise of the festival. I’m not sold on Louise Bourgoin but other than that all the elements are here for an audience favorite.

Headhunters

What’s It About: A headhunter who steals artwork from his targets will risk everything for a particularly valuable piece.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. Could be a fun film but I don’t know if it’ll have depth to capture those attending.

Hick

What’s It About: A Nebraskan girl gets more than she bargained for when she sets out for the big city.

Chances At Top Prize: Very Low. It supports a great comedic cast including Chloe Moretz, Juliette Lewis, Blake Lively, and Alec Baldwin but at the same time I don’t believe they can provide the gravity of a winner.

The Hunter                                

What’s It About: A European mercenary is hired by a biotech company to go and capture the last Tasmanian Tiger.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. With Willem Dafoe in the lead this could turn into a really good movie and it is being produced by those who made “Animal Kingdom” which was my number one movie of 2010. Hopefully this is another big step forward for Australian cinema but the director is still a question mark and Dafoe has a hit or miss reputation with his projects.

The Ides of March

What’s It About: A staff member on a presidential campaign has his idealistic nature tested when he gets introduced to the dark side of the campaign trail.

Chances At Top Prize: Very high. One of the favorites in my opinion to take home the Audience Award. It has an exceptional cast including Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and George Clooney who also directs. His last directing effort was the exceptional “Good Night and Good Luck” and this looks to be even better.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home

What’s It About: When he leaves his house on a seemingly banal errand for his disgruntled mother, Jeff discovers that the universe might be sending him signals about the nature of his destiny.

Chances At Top Prize: None. Won’t have the dramatic depth required but with a cast featuring Jason Segal, Ed Helms, and Susan Sarandon it will likely be quite an enjoyable film nonetheless.

Killer Joe

What’s It About: When his debts become to high, Chris Smith decides to put out a hit on his mother to collect the insurance money.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. I won’t count it out completely because there is a lot to like. The cast features some great actors such as Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple, and Matthew McConaughey coming off his best performance in a long time in “The Lincoln Lawyer”. The film also directed by William Friedkin who although he hasn’t made a good movie recently could definitely pull something out of his hat.

The Lady

What’s It About: The true story of an activist couple who have their relationship and happiness trusted due to the consequences of their ideals.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. Another directed who hasn’t made a hit in a long time in Luc Bresson is at the helm and he has two intriguing leads: Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis. Both capable actors but I have a hard time picturing them together. The fact it is a true story will, for some reason, play in it’s favor but I see it going the way of”Love and Other Drugs”; there is a very interesting story (The boon of the drug business/Burmese democracy movement) that is going to get overshadowed by the love story which won’t be nearly as interesting.

Like Crazy

What’s It About: A British student comes goes to LA and falls for an American but is banned from the US for overstaying her Visa.

Chances At Top Prize: High. Won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and features a likable, talented group of up-and-comers in Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, and Jennifer Lawrence. It looks to have the charm and depth that will capture audiences (relatively) young and old.

Machine Gun Preacher

What’s It About: The true story of Sam Childers, a drug dealing biker who turns his life around and became a crusader for Sudanese child soldiers.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. Reading that above sentence should scream one thing at you: “Oscar bait!”. A true story about redemption and poor Sundanese children. it’s almost too obvious. So obviously it has a shot. I think Gerard Butler, who plays the lead, is a better actor than some of his recent work would suggest but this just looks too much middling movie with potentially big appeal.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

What’s It About: A damaged woman flees a cult and attempts to re assimilate with her family.

Chances At Top Prize: High. It features a unheralded (except perhaps for John Hawkes) yet strong cast and has received very favorable early reviews. If one indie film can capture the harrowing sentimentality that “Winter’s Bone” did last year (which also featured John Hawkes) it will be “Martha Marcy May Marlene”.

Melancholia

What’s It About: A family drama triggered by the impending doom of another planet on course to crash into Earth.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. Lars Von Trier is a polarizing figure, as are his movies, so I doubt it will get the unanimous support of the audience. That said it features a great cast including a reinvigorated Kristen Dunst and will probably be an outstanding film in some regard.

Moneyball

What’s It About: The biographic film about Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics manager who had to come up with a statistical method to drafting players due to the financial constrictions of the team.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. If there is a sports film to watch out for this year, this is it. The director of “Capote” back with Phillip Seymour Hoffan and Brad Pitt in the lead could turn this into… ugh I can’t believe I’m going to use this phrase but “the feel good movie of the year” with the depth to go with it.

The Oranges

What’s It About: A guy falls in love with the daughter of a family friend causing complications between the two families.

Chances At Top Prize: Zero. A comedy featuring many actors who have way more misses than hits doesn’t bode well. Director Julian Farino has a good TV pedigree but I expect this movie to barely stay afloat.

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding

What’s It About: After divorcing her husband, a woman takes her two teenage daughters to visit their estranged grandmother.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. It has a cast headlined by Catherine Keener who is usually picks good movies and with her is Jane Fonda, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Elizabeth Olsen who also stars in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and must be a candidate for the breakout actress of the year. Nevertheless I don’t see anything too new to get really excited about.

Rampart

What’s It About: A dirty cop tries to navigate his personal life and staying out of the corruption scandal taking place.

Chances At Top Prize: High. Woody Harrelson plays the lead and is on a roll so it wouldn’t be wise to doubt this movie’s potential especially with an excellent supporting cast.

 

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