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The Conversation: High Life Leads Top Ten Most Anticipated 2018 TIFF Titles

The Conversation: High Life Leads Top Ten Most Anticipated 2018 TIFF Titles

Sifting through the pu-pu platter of cinematic offerings in the Toronto International Film Festival’s program is no small feat, even after the venue has taken pains to downsize its sometimes-overblown extravaganza of movies. Still, it’s a place where cinephiles come to glut themselves on Toronto’s annual buffet of film, and as usual, many of its hundreds of titles will become obscured by more popular offerings, many of them benefiting from prestigious awards bestowed by the Venice Film Festival, which ends just as TIFF begins to get into full swing (this year, more of the Lido competitors are absent, such as Suspiria, The Mountain, and The Nightingale). Still, this North American kick-off for Oscar season manages to extend a major platform for many fourth quarter titles jockeying for attention, and here’s a list at my own personal most anticipated films to experience in Toronto:

#10. Hold the Dark

Hold the Dark Jeremy Saulnier

Jeffrey Wright headlines this third feature from Jeremy Saulnier, whose previous titles Blue Ruin and Green Room were fantastically intense thrillers. Featuring Saulnier regular Macon Blair (who also adapted the script) in the supporting cast, alongside Riley Keough and Alexander Skarsgard, vicious wolves have apparently been killing children in the Alaskan wilderness. Wright stars as a writer brought in to investigate the disappearance of the latest child. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#9. Destroyer

Destroyer TIFF
Coming over from Telluride and competing in TIFF’s Platform section is director Karyn Kusama with her fifth feature, Destroyer. Nicole Kidman stars as a police detective forced to reckon with participants involved with an undercover investigation from her distant past. Kusama’s last film, the creepy chamber piece The Invitation (2015) was an impressive comeback for the celebrated Girlfight (2000) director, and she’s reuniting here with screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#8. Jeremiah Terminator Leroy

Jeremiah Terminator Leroy
Director Justin Kelly finds himself inspired once more by a truth stranger than fiction with Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, a narrative version of the scandalous literary impersonation JT Leroy by author Susannah Knoop. Kelly, who previously directed lauded titles I Am Michael (2015) and King Cobra (2016) finds himself exploring a different kind of queerness in this oddity headlined by Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#7. Maya

Maya TIFF
Producer David Thion reunites with Mia Hansen-Love on their first venture since 2011’s Goodbye First Love. Love casts her favored actor Roman Kolinka as a war reporter who was held hostage in Syria and heads to India after his release. French notables Alex Descas and Judith Chemla (who potentially replaced the originally cast Juliette Binoche) are also on hand in Hansen-Love’s follow-up to her lauded 2016 title Things to Come. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#6. Widows

Widows Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen makes his highly anticipated return to filmmaking after 2013’s Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. A remake of a 1983 television mini-series of the same name, this is McQueen’s first film not to feature his muse Michael Fassbender. But the director assembles one helluva supporting cast led by post-Oscar winner Viola Davis as one of four women forced to deal with a deadly debt left behind by their husbands. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#5. In Fabric

In Fabric TIFF

British director Peter Strickland returns with fourth feature In Fabric, a moody genre piece about a cursed dress warping the lives of those who are unfortunate enough to encounter it. Considering his last film, 2014’s masterpiece The Duke of Burgundy (not to mention exceptional previous titles such as Berberian Sound Studio and Katalin Varga), it’s high time for another bit of reconstructed vintage weirdness from Strickland, who lands Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Hayley Squires to star. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#4. Greta

Greta
It’s been six years since we’ve been treated to a Neil Jordan film, who was last on hand with his second crack at vampirism in 2012’s Byzantium. For his latest thriller Greta (previously known as The Widow), Jordan casts Isabelle Huppert as his titular character, an older woman who develops a problematic relationship with a younger woman (Chloe Grace Moretz). With Jordan and Huppert together, we expect some extreme wickedness to transpire. In the supporting cast is Jordan regular Stephen Rea along with Maika Monroe, Colm Feore, and Parker Sawyers. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#3. Vox Lux

Vox Brady Corbet
For those of you who may have missed Brady Corbet’s idiosyncratic Sartre shriek debut The Childhood of a Leader (★★★★ review), do yourself a favor and catch-up. While his first film chronicled the rise of a post-WWI leader, the trajectory of his latest, Vox Lux, portends to do something similar charting the rise of a pop-star (Natalie Portman) who comes to unexpected success in 1999 (which, ahem, was also the year which manufactured Britney Spears). (click for official TIFF page & times)

#2. If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk TIFF

Director Barry Jenkins presents his first post-Moonlight Best Picture winner with something novel, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s celebrated drama If Beale Street Could Talk. The 1974 publication is a love story about twentysomething Fonny and Tish. Their lives are suddenly interrupted by an accusation of rape, and while pregnant with his child, Tish, Fonny’s parents, and his lawyer race to find evidence confirming his innocence. Jenkins casts KiKi Layne and Stephan James as the lovers, and fashions a formidable supporting cast as their parents, including Colman Domingo, Regina King, Aunjanue Ellis, and Michael Beach. (click for official TIFF page & times)

#1. High Life

High Life
And at number one is the highly anticipated English language debut of Claire Denis, the long-awaited High Life, reuniting her with Let the Sunshine In star Juliette Binoche and starring Robert Pattinson. Taking this year’s Lucrecia Martel slot (whose 2017 title Zama was, for different but equally frustrating reasons, also left out of competing at Cannes or Venice), Denis’s latest focuses on a father and daughter (Pattinson and Mia Goth) stuck in deep space. A stellar supporting cast is on hand here as well, including Andre Benjamin, Lars Eidinger, and Agata Buzek. (click for official TIFF page & times)

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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