TIFF 2011 Preview #1

28 07 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival released the first batch of movies to be played this past week and it looks to be a great lot. Although Sundance is a fantastic festival, the TIFF tends to bring a more international flavor and has the big North American films trying to start up the hype for a potential Oscar run. One unique aspect of the TIFF is that there is no jury prize, instead an audience award is the highest honor. In fact the last three winners went on to the Academy Awards for a combined 13 wins and 27 nominations with all three up for Best Picture while two took it home, so this may be your first glance at this years winner as well. I’ll countdown the recent releases and my opinion of their chances of taking the People’s Choice Award.

11 Flowers

What’s It About: Frankly, I don’t really know. It is described as a boy’s encounter with an outlaw during the cultural revolution in China based on director Wang Xiaoshuai own biography and off that it has me intrigued. I’ve never seen any of the director’s work but the premise and the personal nature could make it something to watch out for.

Chances At Top Prize: Moderate. It has the elements of a surprise hit but without knowing more I can’t give it any more credit than that.

360

What’s It About: The new film from “City of God” director Fernando Meirelles spans several countries about sexual transgressions across class. It supports a top notch cast including Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, and Ben Foster.

Chances At Top Prize: High. “City of God” is a well regarded audience favorite, so Meirelles name should bring some hype in addition to the cast involved. On the downside it is a large and ambitious film that could have problems being kept together, not to mention the subject matter may turn some off.

50/50

What’s It About: A dark comedy about a nice guy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who gets diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Seth Rogan and Anna Kendrick help round out the cast.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. This will be a good film, between Joseph Gorgon-Levitt and Seth Rogan it is almost guaranteed to be a funny, touching comedy. Director Jonathan Levine is at the helm who previously did “The Wackness” which I enjoyed although didn’t love. It will be a crowd-pleaser but I just don’t see it taking home top-honors.

Albert Nobbs

What’s It About: An Irishwoman disguises herself as a man to work as a butler in 19th century England.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. I love the cast, it includes two of my favorite up-and-comers in Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson as well as Jonathan Rhys Meyers and veterans like Glenn Close (who also co-wrote) and Brendan Gleason. Despite how great that sounds, Rodrigo Garcia is directing who has never made an exceptionally well received movie so my expectations are somewhat limited.

Americano

What’s It About: After the death of his mother, a young man returns home to settle her estate when he discovers that she was fond of another woman whom she planned to leave her house to. He then sets off to Tijuana to try and find her.

Chances At Top Prize: Low. Having long-time actor but first-time director Mathieu Demy heading it is a wildcard but casting the adorable Geraldine Chaplin is not, she is simply great. It has the story to be an endearing hit and although a long-shot I wouldn’t count it out completely.

Anonymous

What’s It About: “Anonymous” is a political thriller revolving around Edward De Vere, investigating the idea that it was he who wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare.

Chances At Top Prize: Very low. It is a very interesting concept that could be a great film but it is being directed by Roland Emmerich and includes a fairly low-profile cast as much as I like Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave.

The Artist

What’s It About: In this silent, black and white film a silent film star struggles with the industry’s change to ‘talkies’.

Chances At Top Prize: Very high. This film was a hit at Cannes and the infectious nature of it should make it the same in Toronto.

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