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CBC Live's TIFF Picks

We're less than a month away to the kick-off of the Toronto International Film Festival - 11 days of big celebs, red carpet glitz and captivating cinema. The gala premieres have already been announced, along with a stellar Canadian lineup and much more, and that has movie buffs salivating over a long list of titles.

Our team here at CBC Live is a part of that cinephile crowd and we've already started making our wish lists. Read on for some of our must-see picks.


1) The F Word 
Director: M
ichael Dowse
tars: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Megan Park, Adam Driver, Mackenzie Davis, Rafe Spall

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in a scene from The F Word -- TIFF.

This is at the top of my list because it's a love story about being in the friend zone and the screenplay, written by Elan Mastai, was on the 2008 Black List, which is an industry list of the best unmade feature film scripts. Elan lists When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall amongst his all-time favourite romantic films, so I already trust him. In addition to great dialogue I anticipate great chemistry from the who's who of cool young actors that make up the cast, including Adam Driver, Zoe Kazan and Rafe Spall. Bonus: It's Canadian! Directed by the awesome Michael Dowse. 

2) Mary Queen of Scots
Director: Thomas Imbach
Stars: Camille Rutherford, Mehdi Dehbi, Sean Biggerstaff, Aneurin Barnard, Edward Hogg, Tony Curran

It's not that I'm not super excited to see 12 Years a Slave and Gravity and The Fifth Estate, it's just that I know I will. And it's really fun to see them first. But I also really like getting to see films that will likely not have a wide release, like the edgy Swiss/French historical drama about Mary Stuart, who was one of my favourite doomed monarchs to read about when I was a kid.  


1) You Are Here
Director: Matthew Weiner
Starring: Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis, Laura Ramsey

Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis in a scene from You Are Here -- TIFF.

Zach Galifianakis is Ben and and Owen Wilson is Steve -- just a couple of man-boys on a road trip to Amish country. That sounds like any number of buddy comedies, the sort that come with an obligatory Will Ferrell cameo. But this one's the feature film debut of writer/director Matthew Weiner, the man behind Mad Men, and the long-time writer and executive producer of The Sopranos. That detail alone makes it one to watch. And according to multiple interviews, Weiner's been pursuing this project for near on a decade. Both Wilson and Galifianakis were his first picks. (Wilson's role, that of a perma-bachelor weatherman, was written especially for him; Weiner's apparently a major Bottle Rocket fan). Amy Poehler, whom you know as Parks and Recreation's Lesley Knope (and your imaginary best friend), joins the cast as Galifianakis's sister. (Their father's left him the family fortune, and she's out to stop it.) Reports would suggest this one's a mix of drama and hilarity, though. As Weiner told Deadline last year, while discussing the project: "I always think that funny is the best environment to tell a serious story."

2) Labor Day
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, JK Simmons, Brooke Smith and James Van Der Beek

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in a scene from Labor Day -- Entertainment Weekly.

Remember Juno? Up in the Air? With that track record, every new Jason Reitman movie has the potential to be the talk of TIFF. The director's latest is an unconventional family story that takes us back to the summer of 1987, when a young boy (Gattlin Griffith) and his mom (Kate Winslet) take a chance on a stranger (Josh Brolin). He's a nice man who helps them out around the house, and he sure looks an awful lot like the unusually handsome kid from The Goonies. But their new friend has a secret that'll affect the rest of their lives: he's an escaped convict. We'll be watching to see what happens next -- and to find out how co-star James Van Der Beek somehow factors in the proceedings.


1) Watermark
Directors: Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky

I loved Burtynsky and Baichwal's last film Manufactured Landscapes. This film will be a whole lot of eye candy, so much so that I had goosebumps the whole time I watched the trailer.

2) Don Jon
Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I am not entirely sure what to expect from JGL's directorial debut. I think he has some pretty neat ideas about filmmaking, though, with his Hit Record project. I am excited to see ScarJo play a little more towards the trashy side of life as she has always stayed closer to the classy vamp type of characters. I am also quite interested to see how JGL deals with the whole porn thing.


1) Rush
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara

Interesting story about one of the greatest racers of all time. Amazing visuals and a great director.

2) All Is By My Side
Director: John Ridley
Starring: Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell, Andre Benjamin, Ruth Negga, Adrian Lester

Andre Benjamin in a scene from All Is By My Side -- TIFF.

I'm a big fan of the music of Jimi Hendrix and I'm looking forward to seeing how they treat him.


1) Hateship Loveship
Director: Liza Johnson
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld, Nick Nolte, Christine Lahti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sami Gayle

Kristen Wiig and Guy Pearce in a scene from Hateship Loveship -- TIFF.

I'm excited to see one of my fave comedians, Kristen Wiig, take a more dramatic turn in this indie flick as a nanny who is tricked into a romance by a conniving teenaged girl (played by True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld). Rounding out the cast is Nick Nolte, Guy Pearce and Jennifer Jason Leigh. That's an ensemble worth checking out. Plus, there's a Canadian connection: the film is based on a book of short stories by author Alice Munro. I'm intrigued. 

2) Prisoners
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard

I can't wait to watch the latest effort by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. You may recall how he took TIFF by storm in 2010 with his powerful drama, Incendies, which garnered an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film. Now he's taking on Hollywood with the new thriller, Prisoners. It stars Hugh Jackman as a desperate dad seeking answers after his daughter and her friend are kidnapped, and by the looks of the trailer it's a nail biter. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a detective heading up the investigation into the girls' disappearance. He ALSO stars in Villeneuve's second entry at this year's festival, a psychological thriller called Enemy. That film centres on a man's obsession after he spots his supposed double. I'd really love to see both features.  

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 to 15. Visit for more info.
Be sure to check back at CBC Live for further festival coverage including our daily live-streamed show, CBC Live at TIFF, which starts September 5!

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