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Toronto International Film Festival 2016 Movie Highlights

As the Toronto International Film Festival 2016 is nearing the end of its star-studded run (Leo was in town!), I’ll be highlighting a selection of TIFF films here that I’m excited to see in the near future.

Hollywood Heavy-Hitters:

These movies, packed with big names in front of and behind the camera, are already generating major Oscar buzz.

Arrival – Quebecois Denis Villeneuve’s (Sicario) latest is a taut sci-fi centred on a linguist (Amy Adams) tasked with deciphering the alien language of mysterious—and possibly dangerous—extra-terrestrial invaders.

La La Land – Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are reunited for the third time in Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s newest musical. The dreamy-looking trailer hints at a well-choreographed romance between a musician and an actress.

Nocturnal Animals – Fashion designer Tom Ford finally returns to the director’s chair to helm his second film after 2009’s stunning and affecting A Single Man. Amy Adams (who features twice on this list!) plays a woman who is menaced by her ex-husband’s creepy novel. The film also stars Jake Gyllenhaal.

Underrepresented Histories:

Tragic events in non-Western history and the stories of some truly remarkable people of colour are given centre stage in these cinematic depictions.

The Promise – The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the horrors of the Armenian Genocide provide the backdrop to a stirring love triangle between an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac), a French sophisticate (Charlotte Le Bon), and an American journalist (Christian Bale).

Hidden Figures – The über-talented trio of Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monáe portray a real-life team of African American women who helped NASA send the first man into space. Pharrell Williams (who is kind of everywhere these days, which is not a complaint) provides the musical score for this film.

Loving and A United Kingdom – These two biographical films—the former set in America, starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton, and the latter in Botswana, starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo—chronicle two interracial couples whose love and courage helped tear down the racist barriers against their unions.

Political Animals:

These films have courted or endured controversy due to their subject matter or some other aspect of production (but, honestly, the debates can make them seem more intriguing!)

Denial – Based on the shocking and true legal case between historian Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) and Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) who sued Lipstadt for libel and forced the burden of truth upon her to prove that the Holocaust occurred.

Snowdon – Oliver Stone directs Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this thrilling and increasingly relevant biopic of NSA-whistleblower and American hero, Edward Snowdon. Sure to spark questions about patriotism and about privacy in the technological age.

Birth of a Nation – Director and star Nate Parker’s rather iffy personal history has dominated the press surrounding his well-made film about a slave uprising in the American South. Based on the story of Nat Turner and titled after the notorious KKK film from 1915.

What TIFF 2016 films are you hoping to see? Which films have you already seen? Comment below!

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