It's that time of the year again. With summer officially over and awards season brewing, the Toronto International Film Festival launches its assault on the moviegoing masses of the world.
And what an assault it's going to be. From Ryan Gosling putting the pedal to the medal in "Drive" to George Clooney breaking hearts in "The Descendants," to both of them starring in the political drama "The Ides of March," this year's edition promises to be a doozy with a little bit of something for everyone.
Find out what's playing this year by checking out our rundown of the 15 films we're most looking forward to seeing at the festival.
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This must have been a tough pitch to the studios: a comedy about a 27-year-old guy dealing with cancer. But judging by the promising trailer and top-notch cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Seth Rogen, Anjelica Huston and Anna Kendrick), this risky project has the odds to work wonderfully. Gordon-Levitt plays the unfortunate soul, while Rogen brings the funny as his wisecracking best friend who helps him deal with the tough journey ahead.
Black-and-white films are uncommon nowadays, but they still get made ("Good Night and Good Luck," "Schindler's List"). Silent ones? Not so much. Enter "The Artist," a silent, black-and-white nod back to Hollywood's Golden Age. Whether filmgoers will be up for sitting through a love story about a silent movie star (Jean Dujardin) who strikes up a romance with a young dancer on the cusp of stardom, all without dialogue, remains to be seen. Cannes critics went for the romance and awarded Dujardin their Best Actor award. We can't wait to take a trip to the past.
This all-star comedy is sure to ruffle some feathers. In "Butter," Jennifer Garner stars as Laura, a determined spitfire of a woman who decides to take up competitive butter carving when her husband unexpectedly retires. In her mind, butter glory can serve as a stepping stone to the presidency. Her path to winning gets derailed when she comes up against an African-American orphan new to the art. To top things off, Olivia Wilde pops up as a stripper/prostitute who seduces Laura's teenage daughter. We're curious to see how this high-concept comedy plays out. Did we mention that it also stars Hugh Jackman, Ty Burell and Alicia Silverstone?
'A Dangerous Method'
Anything new from director David Cronenberg ("Eastern Promises," "A History of Violence") is bound to get us excited. His latest, "A Dangerous Method," finds the Canadian master exploring the relationship between psychologist Dr. Jung (Michael Fassbender) and his mentor, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Keira Knightley is rumored to give her most daring performance to date as a Russian patient with daddy issues who comes between the two men and their conflicting ideals. You'll be hearing a lot more about his drama as awards season nears.
It's been a whopping seven years since Alexander Payne's last film, the Oscar-winning crowdpleaser "Sideways." The American auteur of such acclaimed films as "About Schmidt" and "Election" is finally back with "The Descendants," a drama with a lot of Oscar buzz going for it. No wonder. This time, Payne has teamed up with George Clooney to tell the story of a man (Clooney) who tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife slips into a coma following a boating accident. Things get complicated when the father discovers that his wife was having an affair prior to the mishap. The drama drew glowing reviews at the Venice Film Festival where it just had its world premiere, and we doubt we'll disagree.
Ryan Gosling looks like an action hero, so it's high time he acted like one. In "Drive," the first flick in which he throws the punches, he plays a Hollywood stunt performer moonlighting as wheel-man for hire, who gets involved in some deadly business when he tries to help out a single mother (Carey Mulligan). The film earned high marks from the tough critics at Cannes earlier this year, walking off with the Best Director award for Nicolas Winding Refn ("Valhalla Rising"). We can't wait to see what got France all riled up. Bring it!
'Friends With Kids'
"Bridesmaids" with kids? That's what this romantic comedy sure sounds like. A bevy of stars from the summer hit (including Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Maya Rudolph) star in this surefire crowd pleaser from Hamm's wife, Jennifer Westfeldt, who starred in and cowrote the indie sleeper hit "Kissing Jessica Stein." In "Friends with Kids" (her directorial debut), Westfeldt stars as a gal who decides to have a kid with her male best friend. Predictably, things don't quite go as smoothly as planned once love gets in the way.
Ever been curious about how the first vibrator was invented? That's what the British period comedy "Hysteria" sets out to answer. Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhall front the cast in this film, which stars Dancy as a doctor in Victorian-era England who enlists the help of his best friend (Rupert Everett) to come up with an electrical device to calm women's nerves. Judging by some advance footage, "Hysteria" looks like a rollicking good time with a fun cast. Who knew the Brits were so naughty?
'The Ides of March'
George Clooney steps back into the director's chair for this political thriller. Based on the positive buzz out of Venice, where the film had its world premiere, "The Ides of March" has more in common with his Oscar-winning "Good Night, and Good Luck," than with his disappointing follow-up, "Leatherheads." The film takes place during the final days of an Ohio presidential primary, during which Ryan Gosling, as an ambitious press secretary, goes too far in trying to get his candidate (Clooney) to the top. Clooney's assembled a top-notch cast (including Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and Philip Seymour Hoffman) for this nail-biter, but according to advance word, this is Gosling's show.
Sundance had a great run this year; "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Another Earth," "Pariah" and "Take Shelter" were among some of the buzzed-about flicks that had critics raving and audiences applauding. "Like Crazy" was the one that beat them all, winning not one, but two awards at the festival: the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actress for newcomer Felicity Jones. If this victory lap isn't enough to get you excited, we don't know what is. The film follows two lovebirds who are forced to play the long-distance game when one of them gets deported back to England. We're dying to see what all the hype is about. That, and we love to get our hearts broken sometimes... only in the movies.
'Machine Gun Preacher'
Gerard Butler's had it rough of late. Since breaking out in a big way with his chest-baring turn in "300," the Scottish hunk's starred in some pretty middling stuff ("The Bounty Hunter," "The Ugly Truth") that hasn't let him flesh out that rough machismo only he can muster. From the looks of it, his turn in "Machine Gun Preacher" will nix any memories of sub-par romantic comedies. In the Marc Forster ("Monster's Ball")-directed true story, Butler plays Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing biker who finds God and makes it his life mission to fight for Sudanese children who've been forced to become soldiers. Michelle Monaghan ("Source Code") and Michael Shannon ("Take Shelter") round out the stellar cast.
Attention, Brad Pitt fans: If you found "The Tree of Life" too confounding, then you'll probably looking forward to seeing Pitt play a real-life figure in the baseball drama "Moneyball." In this film directed by Bennett Miller ("Capote"), Pitt stars as Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who fights hard to create a competitive baseball team despite some tough finances. This is a real passion project for Pitt, who serves as a producer on the film. Originally intended for Steven Soderbergh to direct, "Moneyball" has gone through rewrite after rewrite before making its way to the screen. We're hoping Pitt's dedication paid off.
'Pearl Jam Twenty '
Cameron Crowe, we've missed you! The auteur behind such great films as "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous" hasn't released a film since 2005's "Elizabethtown." He's back in full force this year with three projects: the Oscar hopeful "We Bought a Zoo," the Elton John documentary "The Union" and "Pearl Jam Twenty," a documentary chronicling the band's formation and rise to fame. If anyone's fit for the task of paying homage to the beloved band, Crowe is the guy. Just go by the soundtracks to all his films -- they're killer.
This year's hot newcomer Jessica Chastain ("The Help," "The Tree of Life") is rumored to give her best performance to date in "Take Shelter," an oddball drama that drew tons of critical acclaim at Sundance in February. In a supporting turn, she plays wife to a man (Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon) tormented by a series of apocalyptic visions. It's the end of the world as we know it for this guy, and he has Chastain spooked. From the looks of it, "Take Shelter" promises to be a tense and dramatic affair, boasting two of this year's best performances.
'Take This Waltz'
Canadian actress Sarah Polley wowed us with her directing skills in her acclaimed filmmaking debut, "Away From Her." She's finally back behind the camera in "Take This Waltz," a romantic drama starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman. We couldn't be more psyched to see what Polley has in store for us. Williams and Rogen play a married couple whose relationship hits a rough patch when Williams' character starts falling for another man. Sounds like a whole lot of heartbreak, something Polley navigated so well in "Away From Her."