“Moonlight”, “La La Land” directors headline stellar Toronto lineup

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) may be the New Hampshire primary of the autumn festival season, but the months leading up to the Academy Awards make a presidential campaign look like a hustings for class president.

Sandwiched between Cannes and Venice beforehand, and Sundance and Berlin in the New Year, Toronto has come to feed more awards ceremony speculation than any other Festival. Judging by Tuesday’s Gala and Special Presentations announcement, this year will be no different.

Critics and distributors are most excited about Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” follow-up “If Beale Street Could Talk”, based on the James Baldwin novel, and the Ryan Gosling-led space saga “First Man”, from Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”, “La La Land”).

Also in contention to steal the limelight are Steve McQueen’s action thriller “Widows” and Felix Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy” (pictured), the eagerly-anticipated telling of an A-grade high school kid fighting a methamphetamine addiction. Based on the bestselling non-fiction book, “Beautiful Boy” stars Timotheé Chalamet and Steve Carell.

Directorial debuts from onscreen talent Paul Dano (“Wildlife”) and Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”) sit alongside new releases from veteran filmmakers Claire Denis (“High Life”) and Alfonzo Cuarón (“Roma”).

The Festival’s organisers were sure to point out that, of the 47 announced so far, 13 are female-directed. This doesn’t sound overly impressive but, with just one of the 21 films in the Venice lineup announced yesterday helmed by a woman, Tiff will be proud to have avoided a similar controversy.

The Toronto International Film Festival takes place from September 6-16. Read reviews and news on all the highlights in the Beaver.

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