By Matt Neglia With Telluride out of the way, the Toronto Film Festival is in full swing. The films that we have heard a lot about on the circuit will be coming back such as “The Birth of A Nation,” “Arrival,” “La La Land,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Loving,” and “Moonlight.” However, there are many films which may or may not end up becoming important in this year’s Oscar race that are making their world premieres at TIFF 2016. Here is a quick Top 5 of our most anticipated films premiering at TIFF 2016. For the record, other films we are looking forward to which are not on this list include: Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire,” Peter Berg’s “Lone Survivor” follow up “Deepwater Horizon,” Oliver Stone’s newest thriller “Snowden,” Rachel Weisz’s true story drama “Denial,” and a few others as well.
1. “American Pastoral”
As one of our contributors, Will, so eloquently put it in our Top 25 Most Anticipated Films For The 2016 Awards Race article, “Ewan McGregor has long been an underrated presence in front of the camera.” The highly respected actor may have struck gold with this Phillip Roth adaptation of a story of a man who’s life comes undone when his daughter becomes a political terrorist. The book received raves and McGregor has been able to recruit acclaimed actresses Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Adubo and David Strathiirn resulting in one film that many have their eyes on hoping that the star and director can knock his debut film out of the park.
2. “A Monster Calls”
J.A. Bayona is carving out an impressive piece for himself within the discussion of acclaimed filmmakers on the verge of something big when it pertains to the awards race. He has won the Goya award for Best Director for his previous two films back-to-back in “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible.” Now with his third film, “A Monster Calls,” he is looking to do what “The BFG” was not able to do earlier this year in adapting a book about a boy who befriends an imaginary creature in hopes of coping with the current troubles of his life. Michael Schwartz wrote that this “may be the rare genre film to respond with critics in addition to fantasy fans” and he’s not wrong. Felicity Jones is said to be great in this film as the young protagonist’s mother and the story promises to be a tearjerker. This could be big and it could all start at TIFF.
3. “The Promise”
Writer/Director Terry George has stayed away from the Oscar consideration since his 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda” (For which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay). In “The Promise” he is teaming up with the extremely talented Oscar Isaac who has been on a hot streak lately (“Inside Llewyn Davis,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and “Ex-Machina). Here he plays a medical student in Anatolia during World War I who gets caught up in a love triangle also involving Academy Award winner Christian Bale and Charlotte Le Bon (“The Walk”). This may be Terry George’s next big hit, or it could be his next “Reservation Road.”
4. “Trespass Against Us”
How can you resist a film starring both Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson? The answer is you simply cannot. In this under the radar drama, Fassbender plays the son of a criminal (Brendan Gleeson) who is trying to convince his son to stay in the family business after he decides to go straight. The film marks the directorial debut of Adam Smith known for his direction of the musical group The Chemical Brother’s music videos. They will be teaming up with Adam Smith for this film’s score but the real money here is seeing the two powerhouse actors share the screen at TIFF.
5. “A United Kingdom”
Fresh off of their acclaimed work is “Gone Girl” and “Selma” respectively, both Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo are starring in a film which may or may not draw too many comparisons to another film showing at TIFF, “Loving.” Hopefully this British biographical film can overcome that with a powerful piece of work directed by Amma Asante who is following up her acclaimed work on “Belle” from 2013. The film tells the true story of Botswana President Seretse Khama who married a white British woman, but faced controversy upon returning home to rule his country. A time period love story with political undertones where the protagonists face great odds may result in a crowdpleaser which could generate good buzz at TIFF and build steadily throughout the season.
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture