Christopher Machell Toronto

Toronto 2018: Our picks of the festival

As the Toronto International Film Festival gears up for its 2018 edition (6-16 September), awards contenders, experimental filmmakers and indie hopefuls come together for a 10-day extravaganza of some of the world’s best cinema.

This year’s festival opens with Netflix’s Outlaw King, the latest from director David Mackenzie and starring Chris Pine. Both Mackenzie and Pine won acclaim for their work on modern western Hell or High Water, so hopes are high for this dramatisation of the life of Robert the Bruce. Elsewhere in the Gala programme, and following its world premiere in Venice, is Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born. Lady Gaga steps into the role previously occupied by Hollywood legends Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand – her extravagant star persona and devoted fan following make this one a must-see.

Steve McQueen will premiere his latest film, Widows, also in the Gala strand. The crime film is among the most anticipated films of the festival. Widows represents McQueen’s most mainstream effort to date, but with work like 12 Years A Slave and Shame under his belt, there’s little doubt that the British director will knock his latest out of the park.

Always fun is the Midnight Madness programme, featuring some of the best and strangest horror cinema going. Naturally, there are the usual independent efforts – The Wind and In Fabric to name but two, but this year brings with it two especially heavy hitters. Firstly, Shane Black arrives with the world premiere of The Predator, a reboot of the beloved franchise. Black wrote the original 1987 film, and has consistently impressed with a brand of filmmaking that straddles the spectacle of the Hollywood blockbuster and the spirit of indie filmmaking.

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But it’s David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot – pitched as a direct sequel to the first film – that will likely make the most waves in the festival’s horror programme. It remains to be seen whether the beleaguered series can recover from a glut of terrible sequels and two previous reboots, but hype for this much-anticipated world premiere is going to be off the scale.

In the experimental Wavelengths programme, the hypnotic, captivating The Grand Bizarre is tipped to be among the best films of the year. Discerning festival attendees will be sure to catch this one. Meanwhile, the festival makes efforts to better represent women directors, with both Carol Morley’s Out of Blue, and Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer, and Claire Denis’ High Life among the top films in the #shareherjourney campaign.

The Special Presentations programme always yields stunning work from some of the best directors, and this year is no different. Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk will have its world premiere at the festival. Jenkins’ last film, Moonlight, won Best Picture at the 2016 Oscars, so the question at this year’s TIFF will be if he can walk away with a Best Director gong next at February’s Academy Awards.

Closing out the festival is Justin Kelly’s hotly anticipated Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy, the crazy true story of manufactured literary figures and false identities. Kelly’s film features a to-die-for cast that includes Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart.

The Toronto International Film Festival 2018 takes place from 6-16 September.

Christopher Machell | @Dr_Machell