With 288 feature films screening as part of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, it would be physically impossible to see them all, so festivalgoers need to prioritize. With that in mind, here are the films bowing at TIFF this year that we’re most excited about.
Those who’ve already seen Alfonso Cuaron’s terrifying deep-space saga — starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts set adrift — don’t describe how good it was as much as they let their jaws drop and eyes bug out. Needless to say, we can’t wait.
2. ‘August: Osage County’
The dysfunctional Broadway smash by Tracy Letts makes the jump to the big screen with an embarrassment of acting talent, bringing together Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Viola Davis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper for the most awkward of family gatherings.
3. ’12 Years a Slave’
“Shame” director Steve McQueen calls upon an all-star cast — including Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch — to level unspeakable cruelty at the always wonderful Chiwetel Ejiofor in this dark, searing epic about a free African-American man sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War era.
4. ‘Kill Your Darlings’
John Krokidas presents the Beat Generation at its inception — and the murder that nearly derailed the literary movement. Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Huston and Ben Foster give bravura performances as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, respectively, alongside scene-stealer Dane DeHaan as troublemaker Lucien Carr.
5. ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’
Idris Elba takes on the South African leader’s biography in this prestige pick that should finally confirm for mainstream movie audiences what fans of “The Wire” and “Luther” have known for years: that Elba is a force of nature. Plus, Bond’s new Moneypenny, Naomie Harris, co-stars as Winnie Mandela.
6. ‘Dallas Buyers’ Club’
Matthew McConaughey littered 2012 with some eclectic and engaging performances with the likes of “Magic Mike,” “Killer Joe” and “Bernie.” But all of that was a mere prelude to this easy awards contender, in which he plays a 1980s AIDS patient trying to work around the U.S. health care system.
7. ‘You Are Here’
“Mad Men” mastermind Matthew Weiner makes his feature directorial debut with this road movie featuring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifiniakis as lifelong friends beckoned back to their hometown by an inheritance from one of the men’s estranged father.
The script for this dramatic thriller made the Black List in 2009, but the film itself got held up on its way to audiences. Apparently it was worth the wait, as early responses to the film, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, have been rapturous.
9. ‘The Double’
Richard Ayoade, who last directed the charming British indie “Submarine,” offers up this bizarre feature starring Jesse Eisenberg as a man driven insane by the appearance of his doppelganger. To say that Ayoade has our curiosity piqued is putting it mildly.
10. ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’
The Cannes champion about two young women in love finally makes its way to North America, where audiences should be just as easily won over by the lived-in performances of young stars Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.