Last year, TIFF audiences were treated to a handful of films that ended up receiving accolades throughout 2017 and 2018. Selections like Call Me By My Name, Lady Bird and Guillermo del Toro’s Shape of Water, for example, made an impact on the festival circuit and this year we’ve already spotted some must-see flicks that could follow suit.

“Toronto is about the excitement of going to cinema, and it’s all about the audience,” writer-director-producer, Steve McQueen told Variety. “It’s not snobby, it’s not exclusive, it’s for the people who go and see movies and love them and pay for popcorn.”

It was announced Tuesday that Netflix’s Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine, will open the festival on September 6. TIFF also said Tuesday that Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy will close out the festival. The film Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern.

Below are the titles that have caught our eye, all slated for the TIFF 2018 lineup.

Let’s start first with Midnight Madness, which will show two classic films expected to remind us why we loved them in the first place. Predator and Halloween are both anticipated world premieres, but something about Halloween from director David Gordon Green has us more excited. Perhaps it’s the trailer and being Michael and all.

Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role 40-years later. Michael has been cooped up in an asylum, but he’s been egged on and has now escaped. He’s out for Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) again.

Peter Kuplowsky, TIFF festival programmer, noted that both The Predator and Halloween were not to be looked at as reboots but rather “long-gap sequels” attached to the original vibe and storyline. “Both of them are very much continuations of the mythos that began with the original films,” Kuplowsky said. “But they’re also very much imbued with the sensibilities of their filmmakers.”

Danny McBride (yes, actor Danny McBride) is among the co-writers. This also interests us.

A Star is Born

Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut with A Star is Born, a remake of the 1937 film. Lady Gaga also stars alongside Cooper– both are musicians in the film –with Cooper’s character (Jackson Maine) serving as the well-known of the two and the one encouraging Gaga’s struggling artist character (Ally) to perform with him. The two fall in love, but this is not without messy times as Maine is battling his own demons. Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay also star. Finessing a script and performance that saw previous talent like Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand (1976) and Judy Garland alongside James Mason (1954) in lead roles is an undertaking, and it will be interesting to see how Cooper and Gaga’s dynamic plays out. After watching the trailer we’re already digging Chappelle’s character. A Star is Born will premiere later this month at the Venice International Film Festival before making its North American debut at TIFF.

Giant Little Ones

Saskatchewan-born, Keith Behrman (Flower & Garnet) penned the screenplay and directs this Canadian drama surrounded around a divorced couple, their teenage son, and the aftermath of a party situation involving him. What this incident is exactly is TBA, but by the looks of the trailer, we can assume it has to do with the two best friends, Franky Winter and Ballas Kohl, played by Josh Wiggins and Darren Mann, respectively. It also stars the brilliant Maria Bello as Winter’s mother. Kyle MacLachlan plays Winter’s father and we’re looking to see what rising BC-native, Taylor Hickson, (Deadpool) delivers in the young female role and as the sister to Mann’s character, Ballas Kohl. The film was shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

White Boy Rick

Based on a true story, White Boy Rick follows Ricky Wershe Jr., a hustler, FBI informant and drug king. He’s also a 15-year-old. Matthew McConaughey stars as Ricky’s father and the film was produced by Darren Aronofsky (Mother!, Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream). McConaughey has really stepped up in roles these past five years, ever since Mud and Dallas Buyers Club particularly, and we’re looking forward to watching him as the father warning his son on the dangers of getting in too deep with crime. We hear in the trailer him cautioning “they’re not going to let you out” to Ricky, who has a one-track mind in his adolescence. Set in Detroit in 1984, White Boy Rick takes a look at “America’s youngest hustler, dealer, kingpin, informant, legend” and makes its international premiere at the festival.


Manto is about writer Saadat Hasan Manto who wrote Thanda Gosht (Cold Meat), the non-fiction short story which ended up being controversial. In the trailer we see Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, arguing that his story was not obscene (an offense he was charged with after publishing) as “literature can never be obscene” while also explaining that he writes about what he knows and what he sees, this referring to his observations and digestions experienced in both Pakistan and India. Manto was written, produced and directed by veteran Indian actress and director, Nandita Das.

First Man

The biopic about Neil Armstrong comes from Academy Award-winner, Damien Chazelle, and sees Ryan Gosling playing Armstrong. This is the second time Gosling has worked with the director, the first being on La La Land, and the film looks at the events leading up to the famous Apollo 11 mission that landed Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. It is based on the book by James R. Hansen. Kyle Chandler (Manchester By The Sea, Friday Night Lights), Claire Foy (The Crown) and Christopher Abbott (James White, Martha Marcy May Marlene) all-star in the film, too. If you’re a fan of any of the above you’ll surely be watching.


When you see a roster that has Viola Davis and Liam Neeson, it’s safe to take an excited pause. Davis, alongside Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo and Elizabeth Debicki, are not your average day (Chicago) widows and after their crooked significant others get eliminated they are forced to deal with the aftermath and carry out their dead husbands robbery. Widows is from the acclaimed Academy Award-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Hunger), and the script was co-written by McQueen and Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell are also in the film and this is yet another world premiere at TIFF this year.

“It’s a genre picture…I liked the idea of going into a genre, but still having social realism involved,” said McQueen. “Chicago had all the elements that I wanted to investigate, those of race, class religion, policing…It’s such a fertile narrative environment. It has this criminality that goes all the way back to Al Capone.”


Jonah Hill brings us back to the ’90s, full of skateboarding and youthful happenings, in his directorial debut. Thirteen-year-old Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic) is living out his summer, most of it with friends causing a stir, and the rest of it being spent dodging his older, roughhousing brother. Stevie’s learning about life, girls, alcohol, and with skateboarding he finds community. “That’s why we ride a piece of wood, like what that does to somebody’s spirit” is heard in the trailer. Rising star Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird) plays Stevie’s brother. Hedges also stars in another anticipated TIFF release, Boy Erased, also just announced on the lineup.

Let Me Fall

Let Me Fall comes from Icelandic Academy Award-winning director, Baldvin Z (Life in a Fishbowl) and follows teenagers in Reykjavik, more so how two female teenagers go “missing” — one from the right side of the tracks (Magnea played by Elín Sif Halldórsdóttir) and one seemingly from the wrong side (Stella played by Eyrún Björk Jakobsdóttir). Their fascination for one another (and drugs) plus Stella’s boyfriend Toni (played by Sigurbjartur Atlason), the person who introduced her to the world of small-scale crime, all play to a story on crime, addiction and escapism. The film follows their beginnings together and will document their lives 12 years later as well. Let Me Fall was written by songwriter Birgir Örn Steinarsson and the film’s music was composed by Ólafur Arnalds, a renowned multi-instrumentalist who won the BAFTA award in 2015 for his original music created for the hit show Broadchurch.

“We call them ‘the Lost Girls’ because they are reported as missing quite often,” said Baldvin. “I started to investigate what they are doing when they are ‘missing’ and concluded I had to tell this story.”

“I have never worked in a project that is so directly reflective of tragic events. We need to open the eyes of the public to what is happening in our little beautiful country. We want to change it,” added Baldvin.

Boy Erased

Starring Troye Sivan (yes the singer), Lucas Hedges, Joe Alwyn, Russel Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Joel Edgerton (who also wrote and directed it), Boy Erased is based on the memoir of Garrard Conley by the same name. Hedges plays Jared, the song of a small-town Baptist pastor, who outs himself to his parents and is met with confusion as he tries to figure out his place and understanding of it all. He is sent to a “refuge program” where he is told to ‘fake it’ and meets Gary (Troye Sivan). The two become fast friends.

If you haven’t been put onto the work of Lucas Hedges, do make this TIFF season your introduction.

The Hummingbird Project

Another of the Canadian features, The Hummingbird Project, comes from awarding-winning Canadian director and screenwriter, Kim Nguyen (War Witch, Two Lovers And A Bear) and it stars Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård and Salma Hayek. Skarsgård and Eisenberg play cousins (Anton and Vincent Zaleski) who are hoping to cash in from a fibre-optic plan between Kansas and New Jersey. One is the brain and one is the hustler and the story follows them trying to win millions and not fail.

American Woman

Starring Sienna Miller, Amy Madigan, Aaron Paul and Christina Hendricks, the story of American Woman stretches across 11 years. Set in small town Pennsylvania and following the disappearance of a teen girl, a mother is left to raise her infant grandson alone. Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh and Micahel Pruss serve as producers.

TIFF runs from September 6 to September 16.

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