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Big buzz films at TIFF 2014

Suzanne Ellis | posted Thursday, Sep 4th, 2014

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It’s Day One of TIFF 2014, and the stars and filmmakers will soon be descending on Toronto for 10 days of films, red carpets, junkets, and parties.

The Toronto festival has become an early indicator of what films and performances will be in the running for awards show glory the following year. We’re already hearing great things about Olympic wrestling pic Foxcatcher and the performances of Steve Carell and Channing Tatum; Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon, who could be headed for her second lead actress Oscar; and St. Vincent, which reportedly features a dynamic leading turn from Bill Murray.

We’ll have to see what unfolds over the next 10 days, but here are the films garnering the biggest buzz so far at TIFF 2014:

Foxcatcher – Arguably the buzziest film at this year’s festival, Foxcatcher is the disturbing and tragic true story of Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (portrayed by Channing Tatum), who decides to go for gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics with the financial assistance of eccentric multimillionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell). The film triumphed at Cannes, with many calling Carell a lock for an Oscar nom.

Cake — Speaking of career-changing performances, Jennifer Aniston is earning raves for her dramatic turn as an unlikable member of a chronic pain support group in this indie. Aniston’s character, Claire, decides to investigate the suicide of a fellow member (Anna Kendrick), which in turn leads to her developing a relationship with the woman’s husband, played by Sam Worthington.

Wild — Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallée directed both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to Oscars last year withDallas Buyers Club, and now some are saying he may do the same for Reese Witherspoon with Wild, based on the bestselling Cheryl Strayed memoir. Strayed made the bold decision to hike 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to help rid herself of personal demons including drug addiction and a destroyed marriage.

St. Vincent — Bill Murray is guaranteed to win over audiences as the cantankerous Vincent, who begins taking care of a local boy after school when his bank account hits rock bottom. Murray is surrounded by a solid cast including Melissa McCarthy as the boy’s mom, Naomi Watts as a Russian prostitute, as well as Terrence Howard and Chris O’Dowd.

Rosewater — Jon Stewart’s feature directorial debut focuses on Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was imprisoned in his home country for five months after appearing on Stewart’s The Daily Show. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Bahari, who was covering Iran’s elections for Newsweek prior to his appearance on Stewart’s program.

The Drop – Tom Hardy and the late James Gandolfini star in this film about a good-natured bartender who gets mixed up with Chechen mobsters following a robbery. Hardy plays bartender Bob Saginowski, who works at a neighbourhood establishment in Brooklyn, Cousin Marv’s. The bar happens to be a ‘drop bar’ for criminals to hide and launder their money, and when the place is robbed one night, Bob and Marv (James Gandolfini) find themselves facing the ire of the men whose money was lifted.

The Imitation Game — Benedict Cumberbatch stars as British mathmetician Alan Turing, who worked to crack the German Enigma codes during World War II. Turing was subsequently persecuted by the British government on account of his homosexuality. Rounding out the film’s terrific cast: Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, and Charles Dance.

The Riot Club — Festival audiences loved Danish director Lone Scherfig’s An Education, the film that rocketed Carey Mulligan to stardom. Scherfig returns in 2014 with The Riot Club, about an exclusive and debaucherous club of young men at Oxford University.

Nightcrawler — First time director Dan Gilroy teams with Jake Gyllenhaal for this gritty look at the dark side of L.A. Gyllenhaal plays a thief-turned-crime scene photographer who tries to out-do his competition in order to sell footage to local TV stations.

While We’re Young — Director Noah Baumbach reteams with Ben Stiller (they worked together in 2010 on Greenberg) for this film about an aging couple seeking to reclaim a bit of their youth. Naomi Watts plays Stiller’s wife, while Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfriend play the vivacious young couple that inspires them to live life a bit more spontaneously.

What movie are you most excited about at TIFF14? Comment below, and send your reviews/photos tosubmissions@cityline.ca. We may end up using them on Cityline.ca!

Top photo: Still from The Imitation Game

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