The Toronto International Film Festival loves movies, just like all of us do. Big, buzzy, original, Oscar-bound, star-driven movies. Here are the 10 of Toronto International Film Festival ‘s most-talked-about movies!
Dicks: The Musical
From the producer of The Greatest Showman comes the most depraved movie of the year. But the hit of the festival’s “Midnight Madness” section also happens to be packed with jaw-dropping laughs. Think an ultra-bonkers The Parent Trap, as a pair of goofy worker drones (screenwriters Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp) realize that they’re identical twins separated at birth. The pair decide to swap identities and plot to reunite their eccentric mom (Megan Mullally) — so old she carries her vagina in her purse — and their suddenly un-closeted father (Nathan Lane). Narrated by God (Bowen Yang), this movie musical also features a slew of snappy original song-and-dance numbers. (Megan Thee Stallion, playing the twins’ boss, even cavorts around in a stand-out performance.) Just maybe steer your conservative parents away from it? Dicks The Musical hits theaters on September 29.
Once every few years, a film critic is permitted to employ the clichéd phrase, “It’s a triumph of the human spirit!” This feel-gooder centers on the remarkable real-life feat of marathon swimmer and former TV journalist Diana Nyad (Annette Bening). After turning 60, she decides to do the impossible: Free-swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. No faux Disney princess, Nyad can be controlling and arrogant — especially to her best friend and coach, Bonnie (Jodie Foster). But these qualities work in her favor as she sets out on her historic swim. Both actresses are fantastic and awards-worthy. Inspirational rah-rah fare aside, they show how an adult friendship can go the distance. NYAD hits theaters on October 20 and it premieres on Netflix on November 3.
Here’s a melancholic (but often funny!) 1970-set tale about three damaged souls who find a way to help each other through life’s cruel disappointments. The great Paul Giamatti is perfectly cast as Paul, a prickly teacher at an all-boys New England boarding school tasked with chaperoning the handful of students stranded by their parents over Christmas break. That group soon gets whittled down to one: Angus (newcomer Dominic Sessa), a charismatic-but-tortured teen grappling with his folks’ divorce. Along with Mary (the lovely Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the school’s grieving cafeteria manager, the unlikely trio forge a bond during the most wonderful — albeit loneliest — time of the year. Think of it as a warm hug. The Holdovers premieres in select theaters on October 27 and in theaters everywhere on November 10.
Why has it taken this long for Awkwafina and Sandra Oh to work together? That is not one of the slew of questions featured in this heartfelt comedy about a game-show obsessive. But it is is worth pondering, given that the actresses share authentic chemistry playing bickering sisters. Anne (Awkwafina) is an introverted accountant who reluctantly goes viral because of her longtime affection for the fictional Can’t Stop the Quiz. When the pair’s mom builds up a debt that needs to get paid off yesterday, underachiever Jenny (Oh) decides that Anne needs to become the next Ken Jennings. While the sisters’ zany encounters are hit and miss, their poignant moments together are real winners. Just you wait for the inspired celebrity cameo at the end. Quiz Lady premieres on Hulu on November 3.
The frenzied hype is 100 percent justified for a stunner that insightfully looks at the stereotypes creative industry types impose on Black storytelling. Thelonius “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) is a writer frustrated about his standing in both his profession and in his own family. (Tracee Ellis Ross and Sterling K. Brown play his siblings.) One night, he begins to cynically tap out an anonymous parody novel that panders with its clichés and tropes . . . and much to his horror, it becomes a runaway bestseller. That’s a loose description, as it’s best to not reveal too much about a funny, energetic and poignant film that constantly upends expectations. Bravo to Cord Jefferson (Succession), who adapted the 2001 novel and makes a self-assured directorial debut here. American Fiction premieres in select theaters on November 3 and in theaters everywhere on November 17.
The wildly imaginative comedy and spot-on social satire — in which a mild-mannered professor and family man invades people’s dreams — screened for the press at an ungodly 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Waking up early was well-worth it! At first, Paul Matthews (Nicolas Cage) is just a passive participant of the night; he’s just there. He has no explanation for the strange coincidence but basks in his newfound celebrity. Then the visions start to turn Freddy Krueger-like, and he finds himself grappling with the dark side of Internet fame. (Spoiler: Cancel culture isn’t exactly celebrated.) In a career that spans more than 40 years, this may be Cage’s funniest role and certainly his most endearing one. Dream scenario hits theaters on November 10.
Next Goal Wins
Weird fun fact: Taika Waititi’s rousing comedy first went into production back in 2019. One pandemic (and Armie Hammer casting swap) later, it’s finally seeing the light of day. He brought the sunshine, fear not. It’s the true story of the American Samoa soccer team so pathetic the group once lost to Australia 31-0 in the most lopsided match ever. In 2011, a down-on-his-luck Dutch soccer coach (Michael Fassbender) is asked to uproot to the tiny island and work his magic on them. Guess what happens?! No doubt this is a prototypical big-hearted underdog tale every kick of the way. But you better believe it also perfectly fills the Ted Lasso warm-and-fuzzy void. Next Goal Wins hits theaters on November 17.
Woman of the Hour
Anna Kendrick stars and makes her directorial debut in a taut thriller based on a truly bizarre and compelling true story. Back in 1978, an unassuming man named Rodney Alacala (Daniel Zovatto) appeared as a contestant on the cheeseball L.A.-based reality TV show The Dating Game. Little did producers — let alone bachelorette Cheryl Bradshaw (Kendrick), a disillusioned actress — realize that he was a serial killer who had already done time for rape and assault. Kendrick rarely lets up the disquiet tension as she deftly toggles the production of that episode with Alcala’s doomed encounters with various women. To her credit, the crimes are told from the victims’ point of view and don’t come off exploitative. Days after the film’s world premiere, Netflix bought Woman of the Hour for $11 million. (Netflix, TBA)
Last summer, Glen Powell played wingman to Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. Now he takes charge as a sexy, funny, charming and altogether winning leading man. The title is a misnomer — his Gary Johnson is a fake contract killer for the New Orleans police department setting up stings while the cops wait outside for a bust. So cocksure in his approach, his clients don’t realize this mysterious gun for hire is a total phony. Then he meets Madison (Adria Arjona), a beautiful woman desperate to get rid of her abusive husband. He talks her out of the kill and — oops, the two end up having an extremely unsanctioned affair. You’ll never guess what happens next. Directed by Richard Linklater (who co-wrote the clever script with Powell), this is one killer comedy caper noir. (TBA)
Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero
The story is the stuff of fiction: At just 20 years old, a rapper named Lil Nas X — born Montero Lamar Hill — blended old-school hip hop and country in his hit song “Old Town Road.” It ended up spending a then-record-breaking 19 weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts. In an all-access concert documentary, the Georgia native and LGBTQ pioneer charts his own unlikely journey to the top as he embarks on the “emotional odyssey” that is his 2022 world tour. Aside from behind-the-scenes perspectives (he vomits into a bucket before hitting the stage at his last stop) and glittery performances, the footage shows an intimate look at the star exploring his identity and musical legacy. He relays a fun Viola Davis anecdote, too. (TBA)