The buzz list: TIFF 2013

’Gravity’ and ’12 Years A Slave’ top BDJ’s list the festival’s most hotly anticipated movies
Sandra Bullock in ‘Gravity’

On the eve of TIFF, here are the top 15 films I’m most excited to see.

1. Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También) directs George Clooney and Sandra Bullock trapped in space. The reviews from Venice were beyond rhapsodic.

2. 12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) resurrects a 19th-century memoir, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt.

3. Prisoners – Quebec director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) makes his Hollywood debut with an abduction drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

4. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Idris Elba portrays Nelson Mandela in a biopic directed by Justin Chadwick.

5. The Square – Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) directs a lavish documentary epic about the revolution in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

6. The Unknown Known – Once again Errol Morris (The Fog of War) trains his metaphysical magnifying glass on America’s military.  His subject: former U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Morris is the ultimate time-lapse antidote to CNN.

7. Can a Song Save Your Life – John Carney (Once) directs Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Catherine Keener in a music industry drama about an undiscovered singer and a washed-up producer.

8. All Is By My Side – Outkast’s Andre Benjamin plays Jimi Hendrix in a portrait of the guitarist as a young man, written and directed by John Ridley, who also scripted 12 Years a Slave.

9. The Dallas Buyers Club – Quebec virtuoso Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria, C.R.A.Z.Y.) directs Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto in the true story of accidental AIDS activist Ron Woodroof.

10. The F-Word – Daniel Radcliffe and Zoey Kazan star in a romantic comedy by Canada’s Michael Dowse (Goon, FUBAR).

11. Tim’s Vemeer – Illusionists Penn and Teller turn into documentary filmmakers and unravel the mysterious methods behind the photorealist paintings of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.

12. Belle – Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, biracial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.

13. Visitors – This pure spectacle, a black-and-white rhapsody sans dialogue, comes from Geoffrey Reggio, director of the Qatsi trilogy of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi. It will be screened with members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing a score by Philip Glass. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.

14. Finding Vivian Maier – When Vivian Maier died in 2009 at age 83, she left behind more than 100,000 negatives of her street photography. They were discovered by a 26-year-old amateur historian in Chicago. This film unravels their mystery.

15. The Wind Rises – This animated feature from master Hayao Miyazaki spans decades, inspired by Jiro Horikoshi, designer of Japan’s Zero fighter jet, and the writer Tatsuo Hori.