The Toronto International Film Festival prides itself on programming films that go on to receive Oscar glory. After Argo last year the 2013 opener Bill Condon's Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch (pictured) as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange fits the same ticking clock format that made Ben Affleck's Oscar winner so gripping. If the trailer is any indication the crucial point here is the announcement of the leaks, with Assange and his buddies scurrying around as Cumberbatch makes a decent stab at Assange's cultivated Aussie accent.
Cumberbatch also appears in two other movies: alongside Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in John Wells' family reunion comedy drama August : Osage County, which has long been considered a probably Oscar contender; and Steve McQueen's Civil war drama 12 Years a Slave starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man from upstate New York, who is abducted and sold into slavery. All three films are world premieres.
Colin Firth is also on double duty, appearing in Atom Egoyan's Devil's Knot, a dramatised version of the real life story of the killing of three Arkansas children previously shown in documentaries by Amy Berg (West of Memphis) and Joe Berlinger (The Paradise Lost trilogy). Though most significantly Firth stars alongside Nicole Kidman in Jonathan Teplitzky's Australia-UK production The Railway Man, an experience both actors enjoyed so much that they have re-teamed for Roland Joffe's upcoming thriller Before I Go to Sleep, again playing a couple.
Australian actors feature in the following premieres:
Denis Villeneuve, USA. World Premiere.
A film that asks, how far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent's worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated van that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child's life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? Also features Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.
The Right Kind of Wrong
Jeremiah Chechik, Canada. World Premiere.
The Right Kind of Wrong is a romantic comedy about a failed-writer-turned-dishwasher and fearless dreamer who risks everything to show the girl of his dreams all that is right with the wrong guy. Starring Ryan Kwanten, Sara Canning and Catherine O'Hara.
Ron Howard, United Kingdom/Germany. International Premiere.
Two-time Academy Award winner Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) teams up once again with two-time Academy Award– nominated writer Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) on Rush — a big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Also features Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara and Pierfrancesco Favino.
Richard Ayoade, United Kingdom. World Premiere.
Simon is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon's exact physical double and his opposite—confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon's horror, James slowly starts taking over his life. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, Wallace Shawn and Noah Taylor.
Nicole Holofcener, USA. World Premiere.
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced soon-to-be empty-nester wondering about her next act. Then she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), the embodiment of her perfect self. Armed with a restored outlook on being middle-aged and single, Eva decides to take a chance on her new love interest Albert (James Gandolfini) — a sweet, funny and like-minded man. Things get complicated when Eva discovers that Albert is in fact the dreaded ex–husband of Marianne. This sharp insightful comedy follows Eva as she humorously tries to secretly juggle both relationships and wonders whether her new favourite friend's disastrous ex can be her cue for happiness. Also stars Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson and Tavi Gevinson.
Life of Crime
Daniel Schechter. USA World Premiere, Closing Night film.
Based on the novel The Switch, by Elmore Leonard, Louis (John Hawkes) and Ordell (yasiin bey, a.k.a. Mos Def) play two common criminals in 1970s Detroit who kidnap the housewife (Jennifer Aniston) of a corrupt real estate developer (Tim Robbins) and hold her for ransom. Also stars Isla Fisher, Will Forte, and Mark Boone Jr.
Liza Johnson, USA. World Premiere.
Johanna Parry moves to a new town to work for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha. Sabitha and her friend trick Johanna into a one-way epistolary romance with Sabitha's father Ken. Johanna lights on fire, and commits a criminal act to get to her lover, who barely knows she exists. Starring Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Christine Lahti, Nick Nolte, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sami Gayle.