August 2, 2023
WRITTEN BY: ADRIANO
The 2023 Toronto International Film Festival is fast approaching, and I’m very grateful to be representing Bitesize Breakdown as official press again this year. But more importantly, as a movie lover, I’ll be attending for the seventh year in a row. I’ve gone every year since I was 15 years old, and between the films and overall fun of the community that’s always present at the festival, it’s my favourite part of every year.
As of right now, TIFF has only announced its Gala, Docs, and Special Presentations slate. Honestly, I expected some pushes and delays due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, but according to TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey, the festival program remains just as it was always planned. While I am sad that movies I am highly anticipating, like Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, won’t be at TIFF, the lineup this year still gives me hope that, despite not being as stacked as recent years, the festival will be full of excitement, variety, and quality.
With that said, of the films announced, here are the ten that I’m most excited to see in Toronto this year:
WOMAN OF THE HOUR
This year’s lineup sees a lot of actor-turned-directors, including Viggo Mortensen, Ethan Hawke, and Michael Keaton. However, the film that caught my attention the most was Anna Kendrick’s Woman of the Hour. Based on the true story of serial killer Rodney Alcala’s appearance on The Dating Game, Woman of the Hour could be all sorts of things. Is it a dark drama? A psychological thriller? That ambiguity, coupled with the subject matter, makes me interested to see what Kendrick does in the director’s seat.
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Zovatto, Nicolette Robinson, Kathryn Gallagher, Kelley Jakle, Autumn Best, and Tony Hale
Director: Anna Kendrick
THE MOVIE EMPEROR
I love a good satire about the film industry, which is why The Movie Emperor immediately caught my attention. I’m pretty unfamiliar with director Ning Hao’s filmography, so I can’t say for certain how funny or engaging this film will be. But the thing that got my enthusiasm up is the fact that Hao will direct and star alongside Hong Kong action icon, Andy Lau. This seems like a change of pace for him, and that gets me excited.
Starring: Ning Hao and Andy Lau
Director: Ning Hao
Speaking of satires, not much is known about American Fiction, but a quick Google search about its source material made it shoot up my list of most anticipated titles. It’s based on a novel called Erasure, which is described as a “skillful, extended parody of ghetto novels such as Sapphire’s Push.” It aims to criticize the very criticism of African American literature. If that doesn’t pique your interest enough, Jeffrey Wright leads an ensemble cast that also features Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, and Adam Brody, to name a few.
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Sterling K. Brown, Myra Lucretia Taylor, John Ortiz, Issa Rae, and Adam Brody
Director: Cord Jefferson
It feels like Hirokazu Kore-eda can’t help but screen his films at TIFF, and Monster is thankfully not an exception. The film premiered earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim, most notably for its ability to shift perspectives to tell a quietly devastating story. Plus, Monster won the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay at Cannes. With Kore-eda being one of my favourite filmmakers, I’m excited to see his latest at the festival.
Starring: Sakura Andô, Eita Nagayama, Soya Kurokawa, Hinata Hiiragi, and Yûko Tanaka
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Fun fact about this movie: it secretly screened at last year's TIFF. It was shown to studios and industry leaders, leading to a bidding war that Focus Features won for $30 million. One of the rare entries on this list to have a trailer, The Holdovers looks like classic Alexander Payne: a funny and light comedy above the surface with something much more poignant underneath. This might be one of the TIFF movies that will make me well up.
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Dominic Sessa
Director: Alexander Payne
NEXT GOAL WINS
Next Goal Wins has been one of my most anticipated films for literal years. Initially, it was supposed to come out in 2020, but it has been pushed several times for varying reasons (COVID, Armie Hammer, etc.) Right now, the film is at risk of being pushed again due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike (a delay that could easily be avoided if studios would just pay their actors a fair wage), but I’m hoping I’m able to watch this at the festival before it gets a wide release. I’m a big Taika Waititi fan, and this film looks like a lighthearted, funny, and crowd-pleasing soccer romp.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss, Oscar Kightley, Uli Latukefu, Rachel House, Kaimana, David Fane, Beulah Koale, Chris Alosio, Taika Waititi, Will Arnett, and Rhys Darby
Director: Taika Waititi
THE ZONE OF INTEREST
Another film that premiered at Cannes, The Zone of Interest was one of the most buzzed-about films at that festival. It’s described as a meditative and haunting portrayal of a German family whose patriarch is a commandant at Auschwitz, exploring their home life as they live right next to a concentration camp. Directed by Jonathan Glazer (who also directed of one of my favourite movies, Under the Skin), the film is critically acclaimed, holding a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, with particular praise given for its portrayal of evil in a common setting. It may not be the most fun movie at the festival, but it’s one that might impact me the hardest.
Starring: Sandra Hüller, Christian Friedel, Medusa Knopf, Daniel Holzberg, Sascha Maaz, and Max Beck
Director: Jonathan Glazer
ANATOMY OF A FALL
Not only did Anatomy of a Fall also premiere at Cannes earlier this year, it managed to win the top prize, the coveted Palme d’Or. To say Justine Triet’s court thriller is critically acclaimed seems to be an understatement, and Sandra Hüller’s performance alone has received maybe the highest praise for any performance this year. It’s been one of my most anticipated films since its premiere, so suffice to say, I will be first in line to the North American premiere.
Starring: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado Graner, Antoine Reinartz, Samuel Theis, Jehnny Beth, Saadia Bantaïeb, Camille Rutherford, Anne Rotger, and Sophie Fillières
Director: Justine Triet
THE BOY AND THE HERON
There is no filmmaker, possibly in history, that has done more for Japanese animation than Hayao Miyazaki. The man’s filmography has many iconic masterpieces, such as My Neighbor Totoro, The Wind Rises, and, of course, Spirited Away. So, when I found out that Miyazaki’s first film in 10 years, The Boy and the Heron, would be the opening night film, I could not contain my excitement. The Boy and the Heron came out in Japan last month with little-to-no marketing, but it’s already being heralded as a masterpiece. As if my excitement for this film wasn’t already sky high…
Starring: Soma Santoki, Masaki Suda, Aimyon, Yoshino Kimura, Shôhei Hino, Kou Shibasaki, and Takuya Kimura
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
I was probably the most shocked by this addition to TIFF’s program. I had heard of this project by Richard Linklater, but I assumed it was going to come out next year. So, it’s a very delightful surprise to see that it will be having its North American premiere at the festival. Starring and co-written by Glen Powell, TIFF described Hit Man as a “sorta-true crime comedy thriller about role play, romance, and the precarious pursuit of self-knowledge,” which sounds like a movie that appeals to what I love most in film. Combine that with the fact that it’s directed by a prolific filmmaker that I admire, and I truly can’t wait to see what Linklater and Powell have cooked up.
Starring: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, Austin Amelio, Retta, and Molly Bernard
Director: Richard Linklater
Photo Credits: TIFF