Oscar hopefuls have been omnipresent at the Toronto International Film Festival for more than 40 years. Chariots of Fire (1981), American Beauty (1999) and Green Book (2018) all had their world premieres at TIFF and went on to win best picture, as did numerous other films which passed through the fest early in their runs. Indeed, of the last 10 best picture winners, only two, 2014’s Birdman and 2021’s CODA, did not screen at the highest-profile fest north of the border, and of the eight that did, three, 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, Green Book and 2020’s Nomadland, were first honored with TIFF’s People’s Choice Award.
This year’s 47th edition of TIFF is as packed with Oscar hopefuls as any. The highest-profile world premieres include Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical The Fabelmans (Universal), which marks the master’s first trip to the fest; two Netflix titles, Glass Onion, Rian Johnson’s sequel to Knives Out, and The Good Nurse, which pairs Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne (Redmayne will also participate in an “In Conversation” interview at the festival); The Woman King (Sony), a collaboration of Gina Prince-Bythewood and Viola Davis (who will also be “In Conversation”); and vehicles for Harry Styles (Amazon’s My Policeman), Jennifer Lawrence (A24/Apple’s Causeway) and Nicolas Cage (Saban’s Butcher’s Crossing).
The Inspection (A24), which opened the fest on Thursday night, could be a contender too, not least for lead actor Jeremy Pope.
A number of highly-anticipated documentaries are also being unveiled in Toronto, among them In Her Hands (Netflix), which will be supported on the ground by executive producers Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton; and two Apple portraits of Black icons, Sacha Jenkins’ Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues and Reginald Hudlin’s Sidney. For the latter, producer Oprah Winfrey will be in town to help promote the film.
Titles which debuted at other fests and come to TIFF with Oscar buzz include the narrative English-language films The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight), Empire of Light (Searchlight), Living (Sony Classics), Nanny (Amazon), The Son (Sony Classics), Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner Triangle of Sadness (Neon), The Whale (A24), Women Talking (UAR) and The Wonder (Netflix); non-English-language projects All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix), Broker (Neon), Corsage (IFC), Decision to Leave (MUBI), EO (Janus), Godland (Janus), Holy Spider (Utopia), One Fine Morning (Sony Classics) and R.M.N. (IFC); and docs All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (Neon), Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom (still seeking a U.S. distributor), Good Night Oppy (Amazon), Moonage Daydream (Amazon) and The Return of Tanya Tucker (Sony Classics).
It’s not a coincidence that the fest is hosting Taylor Swift for a screening of her live action short directorial debut All Too Well: The Movie, as well as a conversation with TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey; that Jordan Peele will be screening Nope, which has already cycled through theaters, at a local IMAX as part of the fest; that Damien Chazelle, the helmer of the forthcoming Babylon, will be “In Conversation” at the fest, with clips in tow; or that TIFF “tribute gala” honorees on Sept. 11 will include Everything Everywhere All at Once star Michelle Yeoh, Empire of Light writer/director Sam Mendes, The Whale star Brendan Fraser and the My Policeman ensemble — indeed, all are in serious Oscar contention, and would love the old TIFF boost.