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Our 10 most anticipated TIFF movies!

I can't believe it's already TIFF time. Last year's crop of films, which included NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, LA LA LAND and MOONLIGHT still feel so fresh in my head, but yes, it's actually been a year since they made their debuts. While it's still too early to tell which titles will break out, and which will ride the TIFF wave to Oscar glory, there are more than a few likely contenders playing the fest over the next few weeks. Here are some we here at JoBlo.com are particularly excited about covering.

1. Downsizing

Early reviews out of Venice have this one, the latest from Alexander Payne, pegged as an all-out masterpiece. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star as suburbanites who volunteer to join a miniature community where, thanks to the modest consumption of a person only six inches high, they can live in luxury. Sounds quite high-concept for Payne, but if the buzz is any indication, this will be one of the fall's major awards titles.

2. The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro's return to his indie roots is a period pic, starring Sally Hawkins as low-wage worker on a Kennedy-era government project involving an undersea creature (a relative of Abe Sapien perhaps?). Michael Shannon, & Octavia Spencer co-star in a movie whose buzz is so good, del Toro pushed back the start of FANTASTIC VOYAGE just to make sure he's around to participate in the awards campaign.

3. mother!

After being faced with some stiff critical reaction following NOAH, Darren Aronofsky is back with what appears to be more in-line with BLACK SWAN, in that it's a grimly psychological thriller co-starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. To me, it looks a bit like a semi-remake of ROSEMARY'S BABY. Everyone's expecting big things from this one, and I'm one of them!

4. Battle of the Sexes

Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris reunite with their LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE star, Steve Carrell, in this big-screen biopic centering around tennis champ Billie Jean King (Emma Stone in her first post-LA LA LAND role) and her match against misogynist champ Bobby Riggs (Carrell). The early trailers for this one promise an AMERICAN HUSTLE-style good time, and with that cast, it's hard to imagine it not at least being good.

5. The Disaster Artist

I must admit that I've only seen bits and pieces of Tommy Wiseau's THE ROOM. Yes, the famous bits are amusing for how unintentionally awful they are, but I've never taken in one of those audience participation screenings. That said, James Franco's film about the making-of it looks like a damn good time, and a wild twist in what's truly been a stranger-than-fiction Hollywood saga.

6. Suburbicon

George Clooney returns to the director's chair with this noir-ish period thriller scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen. The trailers promise a lot of grisly fun, although I've heard the movie is quite a bit more serious than it looks. Matt Damon stars as a suburbanite in hawk to the mob, whose wife is killed during a home invasion, sparking the suspicion of insurance investigator Oscar Isaac.

7. Brawl in Cell Block 99

TIFF is famous for their Midnight Madness lineup, and this, to me, looks like their crown jewel this year. It's director S. Craig Zahler's follow-up to BONE TOMAHAWK, a movie that crept into my top 10 a few years ago. Vince Vaughn plays a drug courier forced into violence once he's imprisoned under tough-guy warden, Don Johnson. I can't wait to check this out.

8. The Darkest Hour

Is this gonna be Gary Oldman's year to win Best Actor at the Oscars? That may well be the case, with this director Joe Wright's (HANNA, PRIDE & PREJUDICE) long-awaited Winston Churchill biopic, centering around the P.M's efforts during the early days of WW2. This is what prestige film-making is all about, and for those into Oscar-baity titles, this is one of the year's big events.

9. Molly's Game

Aaron Sorkin makes his feature-directing debut with this, the story of the real life Queen of Hollywood poker nights, with Jessica Chastain playing the titular Molly, who ran a poker ring that counted many A-list celebs among its clientele. Chastain is really the best of the best, and having Idris Elba (as her lawyer) and Kevin Costner (as her dad) on-board can't hurt.

10. The Current War

This one looks to be a bit of a spiritual successor to THE IMITATION GAME, with Benedict Cumberbatch playing another, complicated, scientific genius, Thomas Edison. This chronicles his battle with George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) over whose pioneering electro-current would power the world. Given the kind of man Edison was, hopefully this won't be a two-dimensional David vs Goliath tale, although I'm hopeful.

Honorable Mention: Roman J. Israel Esq

This would have actually been my number one most anticipated flick had the news broke earlier. A last-minute add to the schedule, ROMAN J ISRAEL ESQ pairs Denzel Washington up with director Dan Gilroy (NIGHTCRAWLER - my fave film out of TIFF the year it played) and Colin Farrell. That combination of talent, in what I understand is a legal drama, makes this the biggest of the big. This could be Denzel's THE VERDICT.

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