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Friday Five: The Most Buzzed-About Toronto Films

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival has all but wrapped up, and while it wasn’t an exciting free-for-all in terms of new movie acquisitions, there were a nice handful of films that left the Canadian city with some great word-of-mouth heading into awards season. Here are what I consider to be the five most buzzed-about from the festival:
A Serious Man (director: Ethan and Joel Coen)
Who’s In It: Richard Kind, Michael Stuhlbarg, Adam Arkin
What It’s About: A black comedy set in 1967 that follows everyman Larry Gopnik as his life unravels right before his eyes.
What’s the Buzz: The Coen Bros. latest takes risks with a cast full of lesser-known character actors, but it pays off brilliantly with what’s being touted as a truly fitting addition to the Coen library.
Choice Quote: “This is the dark comedy that Joel and Ethan Coen have been working towards. A Serious Man is the culmination of their lives, reminiscent both of their own suburban childhoods in the '60s, and of their cinematic successes over the last twenty-five years.” – Cinematical
Release Date: October 2nd
The Road (director: John Hillcoat)
Who’s In It: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Codi McPhee
What It’s About: Based on the critically acclaimed novel, a father and son journey across a scary, cannibal-filled post-apocalyptic America in search of meaning, purpose and enough food to survive the night.
What’s the Buzz: Definitely this season’s bleakest film, The Road could earn Viggo Mortensen an Oscar nod despite the fact that its storyline sometimes wanders more than its two main characters.
Choice Quote: “Viggo Mortensen gives the performance of his career in the faithfully rendered film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s heartbreaking apocalyptic novel The Road.” – New York Observer
Release Date: November 25th
Up in the Air (director: Jason Reitman)
Who’s In It: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
What It’s About: A professional corporate downsizer (Clooney) who loves his carefree life on the road finds it (and his job) in jeopardy just as he’s approaching his goal of 10 million frequent flier miles.
What’s the Buzz: Currently running at 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, critics adored this high-flying dramedy that puts life in perspective, and looks to guarantee young Reitman a return trip to the Oscars in 2010.
Choice Quote: “Laughs and heartbreak meld seamlessly in this brilliant character drama.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Release Date: December 4th
A Single Man (director: Tom Ford)
Who’s In It: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode
What It’s About: Set in 1962 California, Colin Firth plays a gay professor who’s having a hard time coming to terms with the death of his longtime lover.
What’s the Buzz: The film, which earned Firth the Best Actor prize at the Venice Film Festival (and may even nab him an Oscar), sparked a bidding war in Toronto, with the Weinstein Co. finally winning after throwing down $2.5 million for the rights.
Choice Quote: “Underneath the visual indulgence, the core subject of “A Single Man” is the struggle to wait out a life that no longer seems worth living, and anyone gay or straight who has lost someone loved should be able to latch on to that.” -- indieWIRE
Release Date: TBD
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (director: Werner Herzog)
Who’s In It: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer
What It’s About: A drug-addicted corrupt cop sets out to investigate the killing of five Senegalese immigrants when he’s not breaking the law in the raunchiest, foul-mouthed of ways.
What’s the Buzz: So insane and so over the top, most critics are having a ball with this tongue-in-cheek remake of Abel Ferrara’s grimy 1992 drama. Some are even claiming that it’s Nicolas Cage’s best work in years – a part he was born to play.
Choice Quote: “The film is offbeat, silly, disarming and loopy all at the same time, and viewers will decide to ride with that or just give up on it, according to mood and disposition.” -- Variety
Release Date: TBD
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