September 4, 2012



The Toronto International Film Festival is, of the major North American festivals, by far the most pleasant to attend.  Its line-up of films and clout are matched only by Sundance’s, and it substitutes balmy 70 degree weather and large, well-appointed theaters for that festival’s snowy winds and converted high school auditoriums and hotel ballrooms.  Also, when TIFF says that additional tickets are sometimes available even for the most high-profile, sold-out screenings during the course of the festival, they actually mean it, unlike the familiar Sundance horror story of hundreds of people standing on line, clustered around heat lamps, for screenings that don’t admit a single additional soul.  So the list of films to be attended and reviewed by SHOWBUZZDAILY starting on Thursday night and continuing for a week thereafter is a work in progress.  But here’s some of what you can expect:

ARGO:  Ben Affleck’s historical drama about a scheme to free American hostages in 1970s Iran had a “sneak” premiere at Telluride (a festival that other festivals tacitly agree doesn’t exist because of its small size, although as its profile continues to grow, that may not last much longer), and the Oscar buzz has been swelling ever since.

FRANCES HA:  Another Telluride baby, this one directed by Noah Baumbach and written by him and star Greta Gerwig.  Early word is that it’s one of the most likable films of his career.

ANNA KARENINA:  An awards season heavy hitter, with the Tolstoy imprimatur backed up by director Joe Wright of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement fame, and starring his leading lady in both those films, Keira Knightley, not to mention a script by celebrated playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard.

ON THE ROAD:  This first-ever adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel by Walter Salles had a mixed reception at Cannes, but it has a stellar cast that includes Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Elisabeth Moss–and, in what’s sure to be the gossip moment of the week, Kristen Stewart, who’s scheduled to make her first post-Directorgate public appearance at the premiere.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR:  Olivier Assayas’s last film Carlos has as fair a claim as any to the title of best picture of the 21st Century thus far.  His follow-up is a semiautobiographical tale about love and politics in 1970s France.

THE SESSIONS:  Another hot pre-Oscar tout, dating all the way back to its debut at Sundance (where it was called The Surrogate), featuring reportedly award-worthy performances by John Hawkes as a virgin who lives in an iron lung and Helen Hunt as the woman he hires to cure him of one of those maladies.

THE IMPOSSIBLE:  An epic tale of a family split by the Far East tsunami, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, whose previous film was The Orphanage.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON:  Casting Bill Murray as FDR was what you’d have to call out-of-the-box thinking, and the early word from Telluride is that he pulls it off extremely well.

PASSION:  It’s been a long, long, long time since Brian DePalma’s been anywhere near his old form.  Will this remake of the twisty French thriller Love Crimes (with Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams) bring him back?

TO THE WONDER:  The word from the Venice Film Festival is that Terrence Malick’s newest headscratcher makes his The Tree of Life seem as entertaining and accessible as The Avengers by comparison.  But it’s Malick, which means that it might nevertheless be brilliant.

And that’s just for starters.  Keep track of SHOWBUZZDAILY‘s TIFF experience here and on Twitter @showbuzzdaily.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."