TIFF 2018 Preview!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time to kick off another year at the Toronto International Film Festival, and as always this year’s lineup is killer. Long considered the official starting point of the year’s Oscar race, oh so many movies are going into the fest with their eyes on possible Oscar glory, with the majority of titles, it seems, already having release dates and studios behind them. That said- there are usually a handful of acquisition titles that come into play in a big way, and let’s not forget that one of the players last year, I, TONYA, was a TIFF acquisition. As always, it’ll be a treat to see how the fest shapes up and here are some of the titles I’m particularly psyched to see.

1. Halloween

It was a pretty big surprise (to me anyway) when it was announced that HALLOWEEN would be having its world premiere as part of this year's Midnight Madness selection. I'll be at the one-night-only event, on the edge of my seat because boy oh boy do I want this to be good. Who would have thought, a few years ago, that HALLOWEEN would be getting a long-awaited, old-school sequel to the original from David Gordon Green and Danny McBride, with Jamie Lee Curtis returning and a score by John Carpenter! It's dream project - and I hope its as good as we all want it to be.

2. The Predator

Shane Black's eagerly anticipated relaunch of the PREDATOR franchise is being launched, just one week before it hit theaters, at TIFF's Midnight Madness. Given how many critics will be in town at the fest, clearly Fox has high hopes for what's being called a hardcore R-rated return to form for the franchise. While I still find the lack of a big, larger than life hero in the mold of an Arnold Schwarzenegger is a curious absence, in Shane Black we trust.

3. A Star is Born

The buzz out of the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals is that Bradley Cooper has made some kind of masterpiece with his remake of the venerable A STAR IS BORN - being the fourth big-screen version of the oft-told tale. People are comparing this to BOOGIE NIGHTS and GOODFELLAS, with many saying Cooper's gonna be a big Oscar player, and that co-star Lady Gaga makes an incredible big screen debut. I can't wait.

4. First Man

Damian Chazelle reteams with his LA LA LAND leading man, Ryan Gosling, for this large format biopic of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Rumor has it this is the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN of space movies, but I'll be curious to see if it can hold a candle to APOLLO 13 or, the best of all space race movies, THE RIGHT STUFF. We'll have to wait and see!

5. White Boy Rick

The buzz out of Telluride is that this is one scuzzy, low-down dirty crime biopic, but what did anyone expect from a White Boy Rick movie? Richie Merritt stars as Richard Wershe Jr., an FBI Informant turned drug kingpin - who rose (and fell) all before the time he was sixteen. Matthew McConaughey plays his gun dealing dad, while '71's Yann Demange directs. I have a feeling this will be divisive, but I bet the ones who like it really like it.

6. The Outlaw King

BRAVEHEART gets an unofficial follow-up in David MacKenzie's Robert the Bruce epic, starring Chris Pine as the character memorably played by Angus Macfadyen in Gibson's film. While I'm not sure about whether or not Pine can believably play a Scot, MacKenzie's body of work is damn impressive, and Netflix seems to have high hopes. To be sure, the trailer was excellent and I'm thrilled I'll get to see this on the big screen.

7. The Front Runner

The early buzz on THE FRONT RUNNER says that this is a strong return to form for director Jason Reitman, who made four perfect films in a row (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, JUNO, UP IN THE AIR, YOUNG ADULT) and then struggled a bit to find his footing. Rumor has it, his take on the infamous Gary Hart presidential campaign gives star Hugh Jackman a strong Oscar vehicle, while J.K. Simmons is also drawing raves for his work as Hart's harried campaign manager.

8. Beautiful Boy

Fresh off CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, Timothée Chalamet makes a victory lap at TIFF this year for the world premiere of BEAUTIFUL BOY, in which he stars as a meth addict whose father, played by Steve Carrell, desperately tries to help him get sober. Based on dual memoirs by the characters played in the film, this markes the English-language debut of Felix Van Groeningen, director of THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN, a bold choice for a film like this. Sounds like a potentially grim but powerful film.

9. Destroyer

Nicole Kidman is poised to reinvent herself in Karyn Kusama's DESTROYER. I initially had this pegged as a horror flick, but apparently it's much more in the mold of Michael Mann, with Kidman playing a cop on the edge - an interesting idea because how often has this kind of character been played by a woman. Kusama's a great director (seriously - see THE INVITATION) and the reviews out of the other fall fests make this a must-see.

10. Hold the Dark

Jeremy Saulnier's long-awaited follow-up to GREEN ROOM stars Jeffrey Wright (in a rare leading role) as a man trying to find lost children in the Alaskan Wilderness who falls into a relationship with the mother of a lost child (Riley Keough), putting him at odds with her husband (Alexander Skarsgard). Apparently this is a unique mix of genres with a killer gunfight at some point. I'm definitely down to see anything by Saulnier (or his writer Macon Blair) at this point.

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