This week, we’re crossing the Canadian border and heading to the Toronto International Film Festival, running from Sept. 8 to Sept. 18. Aside from the fact that Toronto is one of our favorite cities to visit (hello, it's Drake's hometown), the TIFF slate includes the best new flicks before they debut in theaters. From small indies to big blockbusters, it's even known to launch many Oscar contenders.
While we’d like to see as many movies as we possibly can while at the festival, we’ve singled out ten films that have especially caught our eye. Plus, some of our favorite leading ladies star in them, like Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Taraji P. Henson, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, Amy Adams, and newcomer Ruth Negga, who we already love just from watching a trailer of her film Loving. And how can we talk about our fave onscreen stars without mentioning Ryan Gosling? His film La La Land, which he stars in with Emma Stone (above), is one of the festival’s most anticipated premieres.
Check out our TIFF wish list below!
In this new spin on the sci-fi genre, Anne Hathaway stars as party girl Gloria, who drinks far too much and eventually has a mental breakdown. When a giant monster starts wreaking havoc on the metropolis city of Seoul, Korea, Gloria thinks that she is somehow connected to it all. Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, Tim Blake Nelson, and Austin Stowell also star.
2. Birth of a Nation
Nate Parker makes his directorial debut telling the story of Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in 1831 Virginia, who orchestrates an uprising to lead his fellow slaves to freedom. Parker stars in the film alongside Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Mark Boone Jr., Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Gabrielle Union and more.
Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga star as Richard and Mildred Loving, a real-life interracial couple in 1958 Virginia who are sentenced to jail just for being married. They spend the next decade fighting for their right to live peacefully as a family. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, goes all the way to the Supreme Court in 1967, ultimately bringing an end to Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws.
Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel), who, at 5 years old, gets lost on a train in India that takes him thousands of kilometers away from his home. After roughing it on the streets of Kolkata, he’s adopted by an Australian family. Twenty-five years later, he’s determined to find his first family. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman also star.
5. Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures is the untold true story of three brilliant African American women working at NASA—played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae—who use their genius mathematical skills to help launch the program’s first successful space mission. Not only did they move the needle for the Space Race, but they broke barriers across both gender and race to inspire future generations.
Natalie Portman stars as Jacqueline Kennedy in this depiction of John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination. The story is retold solely through the eyes of the First Lady, leading up to her husband's murder and then her devastation that followed. Portman’s film Planetarium, which she stars in alongside Lily-Rose Depp, will also screen at the festival.
7. La La Land
Whiplash director Damien Chazelle delivers a dazzling original musical set in modern-day Los Angeles about Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist, and Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, who fall in love while pursuing their dreams of Hollywood stardom. John Legend and Rosemarie DeWitt also star.
8. Nocturnal Animals
Tom Ford directs his second feature film, Nocturnal Animals, about an art gallery owner (Amy Adams), who fears her ex-husband’s violent thriller novel is a veiled threat to her life. The all-star cast also includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Armie Hammer, Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen. Adams will preview her film Arrivals at the festival as well.
9. Manchester by the Sea
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams star in this emotional drama about a Boston janitor (Affleck) who returns to his Massachusetts hometown after the sudden death of his older brother. Back at home, he’s appointed legal guardian of his teenage nephew and must face the past that he left behind—namely, his wife (Williams).