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8 movies that are getting critical raves from this year's Toronto Film Festival

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Way across the pond in Canada, the cream of the Hollywood crop are currently lighting up the red carpet for the annual Toronto Film Festival. We've rounded up the previews of the hottest movies currently wowing critics at TIFF 2018, which may well be in line for the Oscars...

A Star Is Born (released 3rd October)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 95%

Bradley Cooper's directorial debut (the fourth take on this quintessential rags to riches story) recently wowed the critics at the Venice Film Festival. And it's gone down a storm in Toronto too, with Cooper and co-star Gaga lighting up the red carpet with their chemistry.

Even so, it's the film that counts, the tender yet impactful story of a country musician in freefall who schools an ingenue in the art of fame. Many are now tipping it for Oscar success, including Rolling Stone's David Fear: "What Cooper does is offer the world his melody in just the right minor key and a refrain that knows where to hold back, when to go full anthemic blast and how to sell a song you’ve heard a thousand times before as his own. He succeeds, better than even he might have imagined. Whether you think it’s the definitive Star Is Born is a matter of personal opinion. If you were sitting in the movie’s first screening at the Toronto Film Festival, Cooper and his co-star sure as hell made you feel like it’s the pitch-perfect one for right now."


First Man (released 12th October)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 92%

La La Land director Damien Chazelle's outer-space drama (which opened the Venice Film Festival) is an intimate look at astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to ever walk on the moon. Chazelle reunites with star Ryan Gosling for a story that, many critics agree, is a sturdy, atmospheric and gripping celebration of a modern American legend.

"Putting viewers into Armstrong’s experience is a monumental accomplishment because we know how his story goes," says Collider's Matt Goldberg. "We shouldn’t feel any danger or risk, but through brilliant cinematography, editing, and sound mixing, the experience becomes visceral and immediate. Every detail, from the corrosion on a screw to the condensation on a window feels far more real, and you can feel the tension and the risk involved. First Man isn’t so much about showing accomplishments as much as what was risked to achieve those accomplishments in the first place."


Halloween (released 19th October)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 79%

That's right, it's not just Oscar-baiting movies that are drawing attention at TIFF 2018. Flying the flag for the horror crowd is this remake/reboot of the enduring slasher movie franchise, although it's more accurate to call it a direct sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece. 

Wiping the slate clean of all the sequels that came in Carpenter's wake, this purports to be the final word on the battle between Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode and serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle, who reprises his role from the original). Reviewers largely agree it's the best movie since Carpenter kick-started the series.

"Green has pulled off what he set out to do, tying up the mythology that Carpenter and company established, while delivering plenty of fresh suspense – and grisly-creative kills – for younger audiences," writes Peter DeBruge in Variety.


The Hate U Give (released 26th October)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 100%

Rising star Amandla Stenberg is something of a poster child for the young adult movie adaptation. Having moved as the ill-fated Rue in the first Hunger Games movie, she's appeared in teen hits both romantic (Everything, Everything), and action-packed (the recent The Darkest Minds).

However, her new movie, The Hate U Give, is far more serious-minded, adapted as it is from Angie Thomas' bestseller. It's the story of a young woman coping with her black friend's death at the hands of a white police officer, a horrific incident that exposes deep divisions in her community.

"Entertaining, enraging, and ultimately deeply moving, The Hate U Give is poised to be a hit, and deserves to be," enthuses Jessica Kiang in Variety. "The great strength of [the film] is a moral clarity as direct and challenging as skyrocketing star Amandla Stenberg’s wounded, courageous gaze. Without compromising the complexity of the issues raised, or condescending to the youth of its protagonists, The Hate U Give strides with absorbing, intelligent certainty through the desperately dangerous, uneven terrain of racially divided America."


Widows (released 6th November)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 95%

Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave filmmaker Steve McQueen segues into the heist movie with this adaptation of Lynda LaPlante's 1980s TV series. McQueen collaborates with Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillan Flynn, plus a dynamite cast led by Viola Davis – and the results, predictably, sound spectacular.

"What could have remained just a solid crime thriller about bereft women who take matters into their own hands has been electrified by racial, political and gender issues in Widows," writes Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter. "Handling a genre piece for the first time, director Steve McQueen ups the ante of nearly every scene by doubling and tripling the import by various means, creating in the process a provocative portrait of life on the troubled south side of Chicago. Commercial prospects look robust for this potent female-centric action drama."


Beautiful Boy (released 18th January 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 79%

Following last year's triumphant gay romantic drama Call Me By Your Name, we've come to expect great things from young actor Timothee Chalamet. And he hasn't disappointed with his follow-up movie, a gruelling and powerful story of drug addiction adapted from the memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff.

Chalamet plays the tortured Nic, a young meth addict who slides into despair as his father David (Steve Carell) looks on helplessly. Praise for Chalamet's physically and emotionally demanding performance has been unanimous, including this from Screen Daily's Fionnuala Halligan: "Chalamet is elusively liquid in the role of a child who sabotages his life without ever really being able to express why."


If Beale Street Could Talk (released 18th January 2019)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 95%

Director Barry Jenkins' Moonlight was the toast of the 2017 Oscar ceremony, an exquisitely atmospheric and authentic account of three stages in the life of a young, gay, black man in 1990s Florida. Even if the movie's qualities have been somewhat overshadowed by that infamous La La Land Best Picture flub, it remains a beautifully sensitive drama, and the wait for Jenkins' latest movie is almost over.

Adapted from James Baldwin's novel, If Beale Street Could Talk is the story of a young Harlem couple whose love is threatened when one of them ends up in jail. By most accounts, Jenkins has stuck true to the elegiac visuals and emotional heartache that made Moonlight such a runaway success.

Writes David Crow in Den of Geek: "Jenkins crafts an ultimately epic portrait of love, loss, racism, and a system shrouded in an ambiguity deeper than black or white. His gliding camera finds good and ill, kindness and malevolence, in all walks of life. The final verdict can be of cold comfort, but it’s engraved in the warm and benevolent light of unshakable truth."


The Sisters Brothers (release date TBC)

Rotten Tomatoes rating 87%

The Western is one Hollywood genre that refuses to die, continually reinventing itself in all manner of delightful forms. It now acts as the basis of French filmmaker Jacques Audiard's (Rust and Bone) English language debut, based on Patrick DeWitt's quirky novel about two gun-slinging brothers in the old American West.

John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix have drawn much praise for their contrasting roles as Eli and Charlie Sisters, with support from Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal. As per the source novel, it's a darkly comic, unpredictable variant on the standard horse opera formula, one singled out by critics for its offbeat atmosphere.

"You don’t need a deep love of westerns to get a kick out of Jacques Audiard’s (‘Dheepan’) wry, surprising, and often plain hilarious frontier story set in 1851 Oregon and California," writes Phil De Semylen in Time Out. "Sure, there’s all the shootouts, smoky saloons and liquor-soaked gunslingers a genre aficionado could ask for, but at its generous heart, the Frenchman’s first English-language film is a road movie about a pair of bickering siblings who just happen to be bounty hunters. The emotional beats are deep-felt and the one-liners come thick and fast. It’s contemplative at times too, taking time to chew over its characters’ hopes and dreams. Imagine ‘Midnight Run’ with saddle sores and you wouldn’t be too far from the mark."

Which of these movies are you most looking forward to? Tweet us your thoughts @Cineworld.