What plans do you have for March 2018? If you're anything like us, you'll barely know what you're doing this weekend, let alone that far ahead in the calendar. Preparation for awards season has already started, with the Venice Film Festival in Italy and the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado taking the lead in identifying likely Oscar contenders. Hollywood is about to descend on the Canadian city to premiere the major releases that will dominate cinemas this winter - and, they hope, the Oscars next March. Among the possible awards contenders showing at TIFF are First They Killed My Father, directed by Angelina Jolie; Breathe; Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis; Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool starring Annette Bening; and Roman J Israel, Esq starring Denzel Washington.
There is always something new to see at the Toronto International Film Festival, and always something old worth catching up with. It's a lesson that should be kept in mind as the ever-competitive fall movie season -- of which this now 41-year-old festival has long been an important pillar -- gets underway. Set to open tonight with Antoine Fuqua's starry remake of "The Magnificent Seven," this year's event will unspool a whopping 296 features total. Of those films, 139 are having their world premieres in Toronto, including the much-anticipated likes of Oliver Stone's biographical drama "Snowden," Ewan McGregor's Philip Roth adaptation "American Pastoral" and Christopher Guest's comedy "Mascots." The other 157 films have already screened elsewhere, either in their home countries or at other festivals such as Cannes, Sundance and Berlin, as well as the still-in-progress Venice and the recently wrapped Telluride.
Toronto is one of North America's largest festivals and, with key post-Labor Day positioning, one of its most influential. The arrival of the festival marks the end of the summer tent-pole season and begins Hollywood's all-important fall movie-going period. Thanks to its place on the calendar, Toronto strongly sets the Oscar agenda to follow. A number of films with awards hopes could see their fates determined by their receptions north of the border. "We're lucky to be placed in the fall, at a point when audiences want substantial, high-quality films after the summer popcorn season," Toronto artistic programmer Cameron Bailey said in an interview.