TIFF returns for another year, pushed along by their Tuesday announcement of gala and special presentation films. This first slate has the same level of films that frequently find their way into the earliest announcement: films that will eventually be nominated for Oscars, or be ignored for Oscars, or find their way into hot take articles about how they should have been nominated for Oscars.
This first batch includes the feature debuts of famous Hollywood actors (Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born, Paul Dano’s Wildlife), the English-language debut of that respected foreign commodity (Felix van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy), and that movie where the director and lead actor of their last overrated feature have another go (Damien Chazelle’s First Man).
However, the first announced batch always contains a few of those gems that make the festival worthwhile. Front and centre is the Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters, the latest work from possibly the most important underappreciated director working today, Hirokazu Kore-eda. This selection also contains the exciting English-language debut of Claire Denis, a sci-fi film titled High Life starring Robert Pattinson (a sub-par actor who has somehow become an indicator of great cinema in recent years) and Juliette Binoche.
Other films to watch out for include Matteo Garrone’s festival darling Dogman, Asghar Farhadi’s non-Farsi-language debut Everybody Knows, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest and Steve McQueen’s Widows, not to mention the one-two punch of Canadian auteurs Patricia Rozema (Mouthpiece) and Don McKellar (Through Black Spruce).
If this first announcement from TIFF is any indication of the upcoming festival’s quality, TIFF 2018 will be one to remember.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam