Do you know your Cannes from your Venice? Your Telluride from your Toronto?
With festival season well underway, it's time to turn an eye to the Toronto International Film Festival -- kicking off on Thursday -- and its own distinct flavor of film programming: TIFF is known to pack its slate with equal parts crowd-pleasers and prestige pics, although always with an eye towards launching a potential awards contender.
ET will be on the ground in Canada for TIFF 2019 and streaming our complete coverage of the biggest red carpets and interviews with the brightest stars on ET Live. Until then, I've rounded up 15 of my most anticipated films of the festival, including biopics of Judy Garland and Mister Rogers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary adaptation and one highly anticipated and already controversial comic book movie.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day is like Frost/Nixon on the set of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, albeit without any national scandal. Beloved actor Tom Hanks plays beloved television host Fred Rogers, Matthew Rhys plays a jaded journalist and Marielle Heller brings it all to life in her directorial follow-up to last year's Oscar-nominated Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Donna Tartt's bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning 2013 novel is not unadaptable, but it certainly posed its challenges: The 700-something page odyssey follows Theo Decker (played in the film by Oakes Fegley and then Ansel Elgort) over the better part of a decade, unfurling from a childhood tragedy and filled with side characters brought to life by the likes of Nicole Kidman, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson and Finn Wolfhard
Kasi Lemmons, the writer-director behind Eve's Bayou, has spent the last few years in the TV world, but she returns to the festival circuit with a biopic about Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and subsequent work on the Underground Railroad. Equally promising is Lemmons pick for the titular role: Tony-winning actor and Widows breakout Cynthia Erivo.
This is not the Lady Bird-from-the-perspective-of-Julie of my dreams, but it's close: Beanie Feldstein, whose star grows ever-brighter, plays a working-class teenager who attempts to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic. It's based on the semi-autobiographical novel from Caitlin Moran and co-stars Chris O'Dowd and Emma Thompson.
Hot Girl Summer meets the Summer of Scam in 2019's most important movie. Lorene Scafaria (the writer-director behind my Best Picture of 2015, The Meddler) enlists Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo -- and that's not even the full cast -- for a saga about strippers turning the table on their Wall Street clients.
No movie will inspire more think pieces this festival season than Joker. (See: any of the coverage out of the Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered.) While early viewers seemingly agree that Joaquin Phoenix delivers an awards-worthy turn as the burgeoning Clown Prince of Crime, it's the rest of The Hangover director Todd Phillips' origin story that has resulted in such divisively polar responses.
I would follow Taika Waititi to the ends of the Earth, let alone to whichever cinema is screening his latest work. Following Thor: Ragnarok and ahead of Thor: Love and Thunder, he's got this "anti-hate satire" about a German boy who discovers a Jewish girl being hidden in his home and so turns to his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi).
At long last, the Zellwegerssance is upon us. Already this year, we've seen Renée Zellweger doing camp for Netflix's What/If, but this is the type of juicy leading role a movie star like her deserves: Portraying Judy Garland in the final year of her life, a performance I've heard should win Zellweger her second Academy Award.
This is a different sort of superhero movie -- the true story of a civil rights lawyer fighting to overturn wrongful death sentences -- but it seems fitting that Shangi-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton tapped Black Panther's Michael B. Jordan and Captain Marvel's Brie Larson to star alongside Jamie Foxx.
It requires this entire blurb just to list the ensemble cast of writer-director Rian Johnson's soapy whodunit: Toni Collette, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon and LaKeith Stanfield.
Not to be confused with Meryl Streep's movie about the Pentagon Papers leak -- that's 2017's The Post -- The Laundromat is the Meryl Streep movie about the Panama Papers leak, director Steven Soderbergh's dramedy about financial crime, tax schemes and Gary Oldman's kooky German accent.
I'm hard-pressed to name another actor who has made career choices as fascinating as those of post-Twilight Robert Pattinson. (Kristen Stewart aside, who is heading to TIFF with her own film, Seberg.) Before he dons the Batsuit, Pattinson will slowly go mad opposite Willem Dafoe in this black-and-white arthouse film from The Witch director Robert Eggers.
The team behind Lucy has been rather vague over exactly how inspired it was by the story of Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who drove cross-country to seek revenge on her lover's new girlfriend. Thus far, the trailers for Noah Hawley's feature debut have emphasized the reluctant astronaut-turning-to-Earth over the Natalie Portman possibly wearing an adult diaper.
Oscar season, that period from September through Christmas when the majority of awards-y films are released, is nigh. Make sure your calendar includes Noah Baumbach's latest, described as "a portrait of a marriage breaking up, and a family staying together" and boasting Best Acting-worthy performances from Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.
Korean auteur Bong Joon Ho (the director behind Okja and Snowpiercer) premiered his latest work at Cannes earlier this year and won the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or. Now, Parasite, a tale of haves and have nots following two families on opposite ends of the class struggle, continues on to Toronto in hopes of picking up awards seasons steam.
We also have our eye on:Abominable with Chloe Bennet and Sarah Paulson; The Aeronautswith Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne; American Sonwith Kerry Washington; Bad Education with Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney; Dolemite Is My Namewith Eddie Myrphy; Ford v Ferrariwith Christian Bale and Matt Damon; The Personal History of David Copperfield with Dev Patel; Seberg with Kristen Stewart and Margaret Qualley; and Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler.