TIFF 2016 Lineup Is Just As Great As Usual

Can you smell that? Coming in off the north winds? Do you know what that is? That’s the smell of Festival Season, the greatest season of them all. And today, we come one step closer to its glories, as the Toronto International Film Festival (or “TIFF”) has announced its early lineup. And boy, is it a doozy.

The festival, considered by many to be one of the key Oscar precursors (since 2008, seven out of eight Audience Award winners went on to receive a nomination for Best Picture, and the eventual Best Picture winner was at the festival seven out of eight times, with the exception being Birdman’s infamous withdrawal of a spot) has put together a killer lineup, from the first to last films.

The festival will open with Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven, which will be both a blessing and a curse. While it shows that this film has the crossover capabilities to be both a crowd-pleaser and a hit, it’s worth noting that ever since Argo opened the festival in 2012, the slot has been filled with, how shall I put this, dribble. Perhaps this film can change that fact. It certainly looks strong enough.

From there we have the Gala Presentations, which are essentially the incredibly rare first looks at films where the studios try to figure out if their film will have the legs to make an Oscar run, if it is more of a feel-good family picture, or if it is just trash that needs to get dumped (*cough Demolition cough cough*). Here we have the incredible premiere lineup of A Monster Calls by J.A. Bayona, Deepwater Horizon by Peter Berg, Lion by Garth Davis (which Harvey Weinstein has recently promised will win an Oscar-sure, buddy), and Queen of Katwe by Mira Nair, as well as Cannes, Venice, Comic-Con and BFI crossovers Arrival by Denis Villeneuve, Snowden by Oliver Stone, Loving by Jeff Nichols and A United Kingdom by Amma Asante. Perhaps most exciting is the news that LBJ, Rob Reiner’s passion project about the 36th president starring Woody Harrelson, will have its premiere at the festival. While we knew that the film was finished, there was no news of a release date, and many people feared it would be pushed back until 2017. Reiner has been on a cold streak, but people forget he is a highly skilled director, and with the right cast and the right material, he has the ability to do wonders.

However, perhaps most exciting is the list of Special Presentations. These are the films that are eligible to compete for the top prize, the Audience Award. What stands out to me here, above all else, is that Damien Chazelle’s La La Land appears here, on top of opening the Venice Film Festival. If Chazelle can manage to get the film into Telluride, then we are officially looking at a major Oscar contender, just as I have been saying for months. Other films in competition are American Pastoral by Ewan McGregor, Bleed For This by Ben Younger, Holocaust Denial Drama Denial by Mick Jackson, Salt and Fire by Werner Herzog, and Una by Benedict Andrews, as well as former Cannes, Venice and Sundance contenders American Honey by Andrea Arnold, major Oscar contender The Birth of a Nation by Nate Parker, the controversial Elle by Paul Verhoeven, The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook, Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan, Neruda by Pablo Larraín, Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford, Paterson by Jim Jarmusch, The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi, and Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade.

The festival will end on an upbeat note, as Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen will close out the festival. This demonstrates a strong amount of faith in a teen dramedy, and makes this film stand out as a potential hit come September.

The festival will run September 8-18, and I will keep you updated on any other films announced during the upcoming weeks. If you need me, I’ll be being jealous of all those who get to attend (maybe next year…) A full list is presented below.

EDIT: It appears the original list I was handed was, in fact, incorrect. It left off the upcoming film Mascots by Christopher Guest, the next film in the series that includes Waiting for GuffmanBest in Show and A Mighty Wind. Normally I would not go out of my way to change an article I’ve already written for one film like this. However, considering Mascots is straight up one of my Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of the Year, I felt a strong desire to rectify this error. Please note that those responsible for this mistake have been properly sacked.

Gala presentations

  • A Monster Calls by A. Bayona
  • Arrival by Denis Villeneuve
  • Deepwater Horizon by Peter Berg
  • The Edge of Seventeen by Kelly Fremon Craig
  • The Headhunter’s Calling by Mark Williams
  • The Journey is the Destination by Bronwen Hughes
  • JT + The Tennessee Kids by Jonathan Demme
  • LBJ by Rob Reiner
  • Lion by Garth Davis
  • Loving by Jeff Nichols
  • The Magnificent Seven by Antoine Fuqua
  • Planetarium by Rebecca Zlotowski
  • Queen of Katwe by Mira Nair
  • The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! : A Trip Across Latin America by Paul Dugdale
  • The Secret Scripture by Jim Sheridan
  • Snowden by Oliver Stone
  • Strange Weather by Katherine Dieckmann
  • Their Finest by Lone Scherfig
  • A United Kingdom by Amma Asante

Special Presentations

  • The Age of Shadows by Kim Jee woon
  • All I See Is You by Marc Forster
  • American Honey by Andrea Arnold
  • American Pastoral by Ewan McGregor
  • Asura: The City of Madness by Kim Sung-soo
  • Barakah Meets Barakah by Mahmoud Sabbagh
  • Barry by Vikram Gandhi
  • Birth of the Dragon by George Nolfi
  • The Birth of a Nation by Nate Parker
  • Bleed for This by Ben Younger
  • Blue Jay by Alex Lehmann
  • Brimstone by Martin Koolhoven
  • BrOTHERHOOD by Noel Clarke
  • Carrie Pilby by Susan Johnson
  • Catfight by Onur Tukel
  • City of Tiny Lights by Pete Travis
  • The Commune by Thomas Vinterberg
  • Daguerrotype by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • A Death in the Gunj by Konkona Sensharma
  • Denial by Mick Jackson
  • Elle by Paul Verhoeven
  • Frantz by François Ozon
  • The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook
  • Harmonium by Kôji Fukada
  • I Am Not Madame Bovary by Feng Xiaogang
  • The Journey by Nick Hamm
  • King of the Dancehall by Nick Cannon
  • La La Land by Damien Chazelle
  • The Limehouse Golem by Juan Carlos Medina
  • Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan
  • Mascots by Christopher Guest
  • Maudie by Aisling Walsh
  • Neruda by Pablo Larraín
  • Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford
  • The Oath by Baltasar Kormákur
  • Orphan by Arnaud des Pallières
  • Paris Can Wait by Eleanor Coppola
  • Paterson by Jim Jarmusch
  • The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi
  • Salt and Fire by Werner Herzog
  • Sing by Garth Jennings
  • Souvenir by Bavo Defurne
  • Things to Come by Mia Hansen-Love
  • Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade
  • Trespass Against Us by Adam Smith
  • Una by Benedict Andrews
  • Unless by Alan Gilsenan
  • The Wasted Times by Cheng Er

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