The 2017 Toronto International Film Festival is finished, but the movies that premiered there are just getting started. We watched a ton of films up north over the past week, and brought back with us seven titles that you should definitely keep an eye out for. Here’s why…
The Best Movie
Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri (in theaters November 10)
This dark comedy (pictured above) from the director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths features incredible work from its all-star cast of character actors (Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes and more), not to mention a riveting mystery that revolves around a woman hell-bent on solving her daughter’s murder.
What else you need to know: The film was received so well at the Toronto Film Festival that it won the fest’s highest honor: the People’s Choice Award.
The Movie With Our Favorite Performance
Allison Janney in I, Tonya (in theaters TBD 2017)
Just when you thought you knew everything about former figure skater Tonya Harding comes this wildly entertaining look at Harding’s (Margot Robbie) rise – and her eventual fall from grace, thanks to her involvement in a scheme to attack figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, her biggest competition. With terrific performances from both Robbie and especially Allison Janney (as Harding’s abusive mother), the film – told primarily through the re-creation of actual interviews with those involved – plays out like a dark comedy that increasingly grows sadder, leaving the viewer with a new version of the Harding story they probably never knew was there.
What else you need to know: The distribution company Neon has picked up I, Tonya and is said to be releasing this year in time for awards. Expect Robbie and Janney to be in the awards conversation.
The Underdog Movie of the Year
The Florida Project (in theaters October 6)
This family drama about a mother and daughter living out of a motel in the shadow of Disney World, just barely scraping by, is one of the year’s most authentic and emotional films. Director Sean Baker (Tangerine) has a way of extracting a real, relatable sense of intimacy out of his fairly inexperienced cast, with the exception of a wonderful performance from veteran Willem Dafoe, who plays the manager (and surrogate father figure) of the motel and its guests.
What else you need to know: One of the lead actresses (the red head, seen above) was discovered by Baker while she was shopping with her mom in a Target.
The Big Crowdpleaser
Victoria & Abdul
One of this year’s best adult crowd pleasers centers on a fascinating true story about the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and a young Indian clerk named Abdul (Ali Fazal). Their unique bond was hidden by the British until Abdul’s diaries were discovered only a few years ago, unearthing a beautiful story about two people whose bond will put a permanent smile on your face.
What else you should know: This is the second time Dench has portrayed Queen Victoria, with 1997’s Mrs. Brown being the other, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Like Victoria & Abdul, Mrs. Brown was also about an unlikely friendship the Queen had with a clerk, and so the two films really do complement each other. Call them spiritual sequels…
The Oscar Hopeful
The Darkest Hour (in theaters November 22)
If you want to know who the frontrunner for Best Actor this year will be, look no further than Gary Oldman, whose portrayal of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is so good that you’ll never think about Oldman once while watching. This film specifically tackles a small amount of time during World War II, where Nazi forces were growing ever closer to London and Churchill found his back against the wall trying to decide whether to fight back or wave the white flag.
What else you need to know: The film works as a great counterpart to this year’s Dunkirk, since we get to see the events of Dunkirk play out from Churchill’s perspective.
The Best Monster Movie
The Shape of Water (in theaters December 8)
Genre master Guillermo del Toro’s latest is a beautiful fairytale about the risks we take for love, starring Sally Hawkins (watch out, Oscar!) as a mute woman who falls for a creature being held in the lab where she works. Its retro ‘50s setting and dynamite villain (played by Michael Shannon) dramatically elevate this creature feature to put it among del Toro’s finest work to date.
What else you need to know: Frequent del Toro collaborator Doug Jones portrays the creature, and his performance is so starling and real that you’ll be wondering why there isn’t a separate awards category just for performances like this one.
The Movie With The Coolest Premise
Downsizing (in theaters December 22)
Picture a world where scientists have figured out how to shrink people so they can live more economically. That’s the set up for Downsizing, starring Matt Damon as a man who decides to shrink down to save money. It’s inventive and goes places you'll never expect, and it’s from the master of dry comedy, director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election).
What else you need to know: Kristen Wiig also stars as Damon’s wife, but the real scene stealer is Hong Chau, who plays a cleaning lady Damon’s character meets halfway through.
Check out more buzz from this year’s Toronto Film Festival here and here. And you’ll be able to snag tickets for all of these films right here at Fandango.