If you’ve read this far, it means you love movies. The Toronto International Film Festival loves movies, too. Big, buzzy, original, Oscar-bound, star-driven movies.
Just last year, TIFF was the place where Brendan Fraser wept upon seeing the enthused reaction to his drama, The Whale. Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson and Janelle Monae entertained the audience while answering questions about Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and then cleared out of the Princess of Wales theater so Steven Spielberg could preview his autobiographical drama The Fabelmans alongside Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Paul Dano.
The 2023 edition of TIFF, held from September 7-17, felt a bit . . . different, to put it generously. Because of the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, most celebrities couldn’t make the trip across the border to promote their films. In some cases, a director or producer took the stage and made an apologetic introduction. (The only actors who did show, such as Nicolas Cage and Maya Hawke, were granted special waivers.)
Honestly? The lack of A-listers — and, frankly, B-listers — gave the festival a less glamorous vibe. Sure, the red carpet was still rolled out for the big premieres. But with all due respect, writer-director-actor Taika Waititi (Next Goal Wins) is no Timothee Chalamet. (Fingers crossed for Chalamet ’24!)
The upside: Without all those breathless star sightings, the movies themselves gleaned the spotlight. And they did not disappoint. Think rousing crowd-pleasers, pitch-perfect social satires, searing thrillers and shaggy comedies. Actors like Anna Kendrick (Woman of the Hour), Tony Goldwyn (Ezra), Kristin Scott Thomas (North Star), Ethan Hawke (Wildcat) and Viggo Mortensen (The Dead Don’t Hurt) showed deft skill behind the camera. And Lil Nas X, Paul Simon, The Talking Heads and Nickelback were front and center for their in-depth docs.
Here are the 10 of TIFF’s most-talked-about movies. Release dates vary from next month to next year, but all are worth a watch ASAP.