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Year after year, TIFF gives moviegoers the opportunity to watch dozens of high-quality films from all over the world (and gives them a chance to brag about seeing this year’s top Oscar contenders before anyone else).
But TIFF’s selection, while impressive, can also be overwhelming. Do I want to watch a quirky indie film or a star-studded blockbuster? A romantic-comedy or a thought-provoking documentary? James Franco or Dave Franco? The decisions are endless.
So for those of you who don’t have time to scour TIFF”s entire schedule, we present a list of ten TIFF films we think that you cannot and should not miss.
Music video director Joseph Kahn (who was recently swarmed with media attention after directing Taylor Swift’s controversial music video for “Look What You Made Me Do”) directs Bodied, a satirical take on the cutthroat world of battle rappers. Bodied was also produced by Eminem, whose knowledge of the rap world and willingness to make fun of himself will surely make for an entertaining combination.
Don’t Talk to Irene is the quirky coming-of-age story you didn’t know you needed. Dorky teenager Irene Willis lives in “the most insignificant geographical location in North America” and dreams of joining her high school cheer squad. Her plans are derailed when she gets suspended and forced to volunteer at a retirement home, but Irene quickly bonds with her elderly companions and ends up making the best out of a bizarre situation.
We all know who Lady Gaga is and what she stands for – she’s fierce, she’s incredibly talented, and she’s not afraid to be different. But not as many people know Stefani, the person behind the personality. Gaga: Five Foot Two will give Little Monsters and casual fans alike insight into the high and lows of pop culture iconography. Frankly, it’s about time Gaga got her own documentary.
If we had to choose a phrase to describe Louis C. K.’s unique brand of comedy, it would be ‘hilariously unsettling.’ I Love You, Daddy, a dark comedy about the relationship between a father and his daughter, doesn’t stray too far away from that brand. It also features Chloë Grace Moretz and Fist Fight’s Charlie Day in supporting roles.
Renowned music video director Aoife McArdle makes her feature film debut with Kissing Candice, a drama about a young girl who has vivid dreams about a sleepwalking boy. She eventually meets the boy in person but has to make a difficult choice when she finds out that he’s a member of a local gang. Drama, violence, passion, and Irish accents—what more could you want?
Playing and writing about eccentric characters is Greta Gerwig’s speciality. She proved it during TIFF 2015 with Maggie’s Plan and she’s proving it again this year with Lady Bird, a dark comedy about a disillusioned high schooler (Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan) with big dreams but almost zero motivation. Think Juno meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Judy Greer has been in more rom-coms than we can count (13 Going on 30, anyone?). But in Public Schooled, she gets the chance to shine as Claire, the mother of an intelligent home-schooled teen who decides to purposely fail a college entrance exam to pursue the girl of his dreams in (gasp) public school. Ah, the things we do for love.
If you haven’t seen The Room, Tommy Wiseau’s infamous cinematic “masterpiece,” you’ve probably at least heard of it. It’s renowned for its bad acting, nonexistent plot and confusing structure, and now has the honour of being mercilessly mocked by none other than the Franco brothers and co. Featuring stars such as Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, and Hannibal Buress, The Disaster Artist is sure to be a hit.
Some may say that the enemies-turned-lovers story has been told to death, but The Royal Hibiscus Hotel promises to put a fresh spin on a familiar tale. Ope, a chef living in London, decides to return to Nigeria to work for her family-owned hotel. Enter Deji – he’s rich, he’s powerful, he’s devilishly handsome, and he just so happens to be buying said hotel. You do the math.
Brie Larson wowed TIFF-goers in 2015 with her performance in Room, and this year she returns to TIFF with Unicorn Store. Larson stars in and directs this movie about Kit, a childlike artist who decides to avoid adulthood for a little while longer after a mysterious salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) gives Kit the chance to own her very own unicorn. Weird? Very. But Larson’s performances in offbeat comedies like United States of Tara and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World have us convinced that she can sell Unicorn Store’s unique brand of whimsy.