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In Toronto, late summer is the best time of the year to take a selfie with your favourite celebrity. It’s also the best time to see some really great movies before they hit theatres. That’s because from September 8 to 18, it’s Toronto International Film Festival time. Not sure what to see? Don’t stress, you’re covered. We’ve gone through the entire lineup to bring you a list of must-see, MUCH-approved movies showing at this year’s TIFF. Check out our picks before you make your own:
Hailee Steinfeld’s super socially awkward character Nadine has a mid (high school) life crisis when her best friend begins dating her cooler, way less awkward older brother in director Kelly Fremon Craig’s first film, The Edge of Seventeen. Luckily, Nadine has her history teacher (Woody Harrelson) to confide in—when she shows him an excruciatingly embarrassing sext she accidentally sent, he’s there for her (to correct her grammar). From the looks of the trailer, this might be the festival’s best comedy.
Try to remain calm. Ryan Gosling reuniting with Emma Stone for a romantic movie done in the style of a classic Hollywood musical is no reason to freak out. Just kidding—it totally is. Especially when you consider that it’s from the Oscar-nominated director behind 2014’s Whiplash. La La Land is both a star-crossed love story about a jazz musician and struggling actress, and a love letter to Los Angeles.
Before the Flood is the only TIFF film this year in which you’ll see Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk and President Barack Obama hang out and talk climate change. The documentary, from Oscar-winner Fisher Stevens (The Cove), trails Leo, UN Ambassador of Peace, as he talks to a selection of super-smart non-Hollywood types to find out what can be done about issues like the Alberta tar sands, the destruction of Indonesian rainforests and the smog that hangs over major cities in China. Does he save the environment in the end? Watch and see.
Mark Wahlberg and a funky bunch of offshore oil rig workers including Kurt Russell are at the centre of this true story of the largest oil spill the US has ever seen. The titular and ominously named Deepwater Horizon is a Gulf of Mexico rig owned by British Petroleum. A company executive (John Malkovich) is pushing workers to begin drilling even though conditions are unsafe. Fast forward to the rig going up in flames, trapping the workers on board. It is, very literally, an explosive film—one that anyone interested in environmental issues should see.
Following small roles in movies like The Social Network and Inside Llewyn Davis, Justin Timberlake returns to his day job on the concert stage and filmmaker Jonathan Demme (Stop Making Sense, The Silence of The Lambs) documents it. JT’s 20/20 Experience Tour took him on the road for two years, ending with a run of shows in Las Vegas. In Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, Demme captures behind the scenes and side stage moments from those final shows, giving audiences an up-close look into the life of a pop idol. The TIFF screening will be the doc’s world premiere.
The second of two Amy Adams-starring films in this year’s festival, Nocturnal Animals is fashion-designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford’s sophomore cinematic effort after an impressive debut at TIFF ‘09 with A Single Man. In this new movie, Adams co-stars with Jake Gyllenhaal and Armie Hammer. Uh, do you really need to know more? Okay, fine. It’s a thriller about a woman whose estranged ex sends her the manuscript for his new novel—spoiler alert: it isn’t a “happily ever after” kind of story.
Last March, the Stones made headlines when they played their first ever show in Havana, Cuba—a place where listening to bands like Mick Jagger’s used to be an activity that could land you in jail. In The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! director Paul Dugdale (One Direction: Where We Are, Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall) tracks the Stones course across Latin America towards their ultimate destination, Cuba, where they played a free show for half a million people—and showed up another historic first-time visitor: Barack Obama.
Kristen Stewart has two films at TIFF this year: Certain Women with Laura Dern and Michelle Williams, and this one, a ghost story from previous Stewart collaborator, director Olivier Assayas. In Personal Shopper, Stewart pulls couture for an uber-demanding German model, while also living as a medium desperately trying to reach her late brother. Soon enough, it starts to work.
For even more supernatural amazingness, check out Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp playing a pair of American sisters who make their living by channeling ghosts and spirits for crowds of adoring Parisians in 1930s-era France. They’re soon discovered by a big-time film producer who may have more than one reason for hiring them on to star in his new project. Planetarium is director Rebecca Zlotowski’s third feature film and the TIFF screening will be its North American premiere.
Adam Driver trades in Kylo Ren’s lightsaber for a simple pen and paper, in playing a blue collar bus driver/poet in one of two Jim Jarmusch films at this year’s festival (the other is a rock documentary about Iggy Pop). Paterson sees the Girls actor co-star alongside Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings) in a zen-like movie about a small town couple struggling to channel their creativity while living seemingly ordinary lives. Side note for animal lovers: the movie features an adorable, award-winning rescue dog.