My TIFF Line-up!

Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin
Despite some mixed luck in the lottery, everything turned out pretty damn spectacular for my festival this year. The only of my top picks that I missed completely are A Dangerous Method and Melancholia, but I will rush Melancholia and I replaced Cronenberg with the Premium Screening of The Descendants! The poor luck in the lottery also proved a good thing because...  I got gala tickets for WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and TAKE THIS WALTZ!

My TIFF line-up, starting with the Premium screenings (ie: stars in attendance):

We Need to Talk About Kevin
The film I'm most excited for (as you can tell) is Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of Lionel Shriver's brilliant novel about a mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton) who tries to reconcile her sense of guilt after her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller) commits a school shooting. Kevin drew raves at Cannes, with many saying it's Tilda's best performance. I love Tilda and am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to see both her and the film!

Take this Waltz
In 2006, Sarah Polley unveiled her directorial debut, Away from Her, and it turned out to be one of the best films ever produced in this country. Polley set a pretty high bar for herself, so it's good that her second film seems to go in a different direction. Take this Waltz is a colourful Toronto-set dramedy about a married woman (Michelle Williams) who is torn between her husband (Seth Rogen) and an intriguing new man (Luke Kirby). Also stars Sarah Silverman

The Skin I Live In
Festival favourite Pedro Almodovar returns and makes a reunion with star Antonio Banderas after 21 years. Banderas stars as a psycotic plastic surgeon who develops a new kind of skin by taking samples from the dregs of society. It sounds morbid, but Almodovar's arthouse flair leads me to think this will be the most beautiful slasher I've ever seen. Trailer:

The Descendants
A date with Tilda and George Clooney? Woot! Descendants is one of two films in which Clooney will appear at the festival this year (the other being Ides of March, which he directed). The Descendants is a dramedy about a man who takes his kids to Hawaii as a respite from seeing their mother on life support. There, Clooney's character learns of his wife's infidelity, thus putting a new spin on things. I'm excited to see Clooney in a fun role, but I'm most excited for The Descendants because it marks Alexander Payne's first film since Sideways (my #1 film of 2004). Trailer.

Shame - new addition!
Right before The Skin I l Live in, I'll be seeing Shame - quite the double bill! Michael Fassbender stars as a sex addict New Yorker and Carey Mulligan co-stars as his self-destructive sister who moves in and brings out the worst in him. Shame reunites Fassbender with Steve McQueen, writer/director of Hunger, and if their renunion hasn't already made the film a hot ticket at this year's festival, the raves from Venice surely will. How was this still available?
And my regular screenings are:
Albert Nobbs
 Last year at TIFF, I called Best Actress for Natalie Portman in Black Swan (as did many others). This year's festival could be a Best Actress face-off between Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin and Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs. Close played the role of a woman who passes as a man in 1890's Ireland when Albert Nobbs began as a stage production, and she's been working hard to get the film made ever since (she co-wrote the screenplay). Could Patty Hewes finally net an Oscar?

  I'm surprised that this was still available since star Brad Pitt will be in town! (I got it as my back up for 360) The film is the true story of Oakland A's manager Billy Beans, who put together a team on a budget thanks to a new computer system. Screenplay by Oscar winners Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and Steven Zallian (Schindler's List), and directed by Bennet Miller (Capote). Trailer:

One of the films I'm most excited for at TIFF, Rampart reunites Woody Harrelson with The Messenger's writer/director Oren Moverman. Rampart is the story of a renegade cop, but the film should have a hard-edge as it's co-written by crime novelist James Ellroy (LA Confidential). Joining Harrelson is the top cast of Steve Buscemi, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, and Cynthia Nixon!

Dark Horse
  This was my alternate for A Dangerous Method, but I'm okay with it since I saw Life During Wartime recently and it blew me away. This new comedy by Todd Solondz depicts two thirtysomethings brought together by love and Arrested Development. Stars Jordan Gelber and Selma Blair as the lovers, along with a supporting role by Mia Farrow.

Martha Marcy May Marlene 
Of all the regular tickets I have, this is easily the film I'm excited for! (That or Rampart) Already drawing raves from Sundance and Cannes, Martha Marcy May Marlene could be much more than a cult-hit this awards season! Maybe Elizabeth Olson will be a Best Actress nominee before her older sisters Mary Kate and Ashley?

Carre Blance
I know next to nothing about this film, but my brother said he really wants us to see it, so I moseyed on over to its IMDB page and read its brief plot: "In the future, society's weak are killed and used for meat." Sold!

Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding 
Another film I eagerly await is this pic that marks the return of Jane Fonda after a four-year absence from her brief return to film. P,L,M also marks a return to the fest for director Bruce Beresford, whose Mao's Last Dancer was the runner-up for the People's Choice Award for TIFF 2009. The film also stars Catherine Keener and Martha Marcy's Elizabeth Olson.

Monsieur Lazhar 
 Phillippe Falardeau's 2008 film C'est pas moi, je le jure! (It's not me, I Swear!) is one of my favourite recent Canadian films, so it's no wonder that one of my top picks for this year is his Monsieur Lazhar, an adaptation of a one-man play about a schoolteacher who is also a new immigrant to Quebec.

That Summer
Two couples take a trip to Rome and find their relationships taking profound changes as they experience sensuous Italy. It's only appropriate that this Italian-set romance, starring Monica Bellucci, will bow at Venice before coming to TIFF. Trailer (sorry, no subtitles!)

 A comedy about a gyno in Victorian-era London who seeks to cure women of their 'sexual hysteria'. The film thus chronicles the invention of the vibrator and how said invention pleases the ladies of British high society. Think The King's Speech, but with a dildo. Trailer:

Take Shelter
Like Martha Marcy May Marlene, Take Shelter has been building buzz on the festival circuit for the past few months. The film stars Michael Shannon as a young husband/father who tries fanatically to protect his family from an impending storm. That storm, however, might be himself. Also stars Jessica Chastain (The Help, Tree of Life). Trailer:

Adding some Canadian content to my festival is this Canadian-South African co-produced biopic of Winnie Mandela, played by Jennifer Hudson. Is JHud going for Oscar #2? Also seeking offering some awards-bait is Terrence Howard as Nelson Mandela, though it might be hard for viewers to forget Morgan Freeman's excellent performance as Mandela in 2009's Invictus.

Violet & Daisy
My first trip to TIFF included the Gala screening of Precious, which ended up as my pick for the best film of 2009, so I'm quite excited that screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher will screen his directorial debut at the festival. Violet & Daisy are two teenage assassins, played by Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel, who find themselves on a seemingly easy job gone awry. James Gandolfini co-stars: will this be Hanna vs. Tony Soprano?

Page Eight 
 It's not his feature debut, but many folks know David Hare as the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Hours, The Reader, and Billy Elliot. Page Eight stars Bill Nighy as an MI5 officer who is forced to choose between protecting his organization or revealing the truth when his journalist-neighbour (Rachel Weisz) gets a hot tip. Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis. Trailer:

 A South Korean caper about an ailing man who trudges through the back alleys in search of Korea in search of a new liver. Countdown stars Jeon do-yeon as the man's sexy enemy - I'm particularly excited for this since I was first introduced to Jeon do-yeon during last year's festival thanks to her stunning, deceptively simple performance within the hanky-panky of The Housemaid. Trailer (sorry, no subtitles!)
Add this to the list of 'Asian extreme'! From Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto, Kotoko is the story of a young mother who suffers a mental breakdown while caring for her baby. The TIFF programs says that "the film’s style mirrors the trajectory of Kotoko’s own increasingly fractured perception." Horrifying AND artful???
A tough coming of age (and coming out) story of a Brooklyn teen named Alike (pronounced A-leekay). Pariah plays in TIFF's discovery series, and it marks the fiction-film debut of debut of Dee Rees, who expanded Pariah from her award-winning short of the same name. Trailer:

388 Arletta Ave.
A stylish paranoia thriller, 388 Arletta Ave. depicts a Toronto couple, played by Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner, who are unaware that their lives are being monitored 24/7. To the 'Big Brother' effect, the film is shot entirely from the vantage point of surveillance cameras. 

Wuthering Heights
After Jane Eyre, is it too much to hope for a second great Bronte film this year? No, since Wuthering Heights will surely go in an entirely different direction under the, well, direction of Fish Tank's Andrea Arnold. Expected this adaptation to be stripped and raw.

The Deep Blue Sea
Continuing my TIFF love affair with Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea drops Weisz in the juicy role of Hester Collyer, an emotionally desolate woman living in post-WW2 England who tries desperately to win back her lover and put her life back on track. With The Whistleblower already in theatres and Page Eight at the fest, could Weisz be an awards season triple threat?

A 3-D Wim Wenders documentary about dancing. Need I say more?

 Pretty great list, eh? That's all for now, but I still have a voucher or two to fill in some gaps, and I'll try and rush Melancholia. I have to miss the Tuesday because of TA duties (sorry Madonna!), but it should be a sweet week in T.O.!!!!!
And thanks to all the TIFF staff who were hard at work during the busy ticket period. Today's order was the fastest and smoothest it's ever been!