What’s the buzz? TIFF organizers on the films that will get audiences talking

TORONTO — Cinephiles and Oscars prognosticators, it’s time to start your engines.

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off Sept. 5 with another slew of star-studded titles predicted to get awards season love — from a high-octane look at rivalling car companies on the racing circuit, to a powerful true story of a civil rights defence lawyer, and a slick murder mystery.

Here are some 2019 festival titles that will likely get much buzz, according to co-head/artistic director Cameron Bailey and senior director of film Diana Sanchez.

“Ford v Ferrari”

Both Bailey and Sanchez predict big things for this biographical drama starring Matt Damon as American car designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as British driver Ken Miles.

James Mangold directed the story, which follows the two as they build a revolutionary Ford Motor Company racing car to rival that of the Enzo Ferrari team at a prestigious race in France in 1966.

“Matt Damon and Christian Bale play so well off each other in the story that’s two and a half hours yet you’re watching it and you’re like, ‘I could stay here forever,”’ says Sanchez.

“Just Mercy”

Bailey and Sanchez are also in agreement on this true story starring Michael B. Jordan as renowned civil rights defence lawyer Bryan Stevenson. Jamie Foxx co-stars as Walter McMillian, a pulpwood worker who was on death row until Stevenson helped exonerate him in Alabama in 1993.

Brie Larson and O’Shea Jackson Jr. also star in the story from director Destin Daniel Cretton.

“I think ‘Just Mercy’ is a film that will leave people devastated,” says Bailey. “It’s an incredibly powerful, emotional film.”

“Knives Out”

Sanchez is excited about this murder mystery starring Daniel Craig as a detective investigating the death of a renowned crime novelist, played by Toronto acting legend Christopher Plummer.

Rian Johnson directed the dark comedy, which also includes actors Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, and Michael Shannon.

“It’s an Agatha Christie, star-studded, ramped-up whodunit … and it’s just a lot of fun to watch,” says Sanchez.

Bailey’s other picks:

— “Joker,” directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the comic-book supervillain: “I do think ‘Joker’ will be a film that people will pay a lot of attention to for its filmmaking and for its performance by Joaquin Phoenix.”

— “Hustlers,” directed by Lorene Scafaria and starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Keke Palmer, and Julia Stiles as former strippers who target Wall Street clients: “I think ‘Hustlers’ is going to be a real talking point for months to come.”

— “Jojo Rabbit,” a Second World War comic satire directed by Taika Waititi, who also stars as Adolf Hitler in a cast that also includes Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and Rebel Wilson: “A satire with heart, with deep emotion as well, and from one of the most exciting filmmakers working.”

Sanchez’s other picks:

— “Antigone” by Quebecois filmmaker Sophie Deraspe, which reimagines a Greek tragedy and stars Nahema Ricci as an immigrant to Montreal trying to help her family: “It’s a story about love, about standing up for what you believe in, but it also tells the story of what it’s like for immigrants in Canada.”

— “Pain and Glory” by Pedro Almodovar, a Spanish drama that recently earned Antonio Banderas an award at the Cannes Film Festival for playing an aging filmmaker in an existential crisis: “There’s something just really moving about that film and its celebration of art and what it’s like to age.”

— “Parasite,” the Cannes festival—winning thriller by Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho, about a poor family who schemes its way into the lives of a wealthy household: “‘Parasite’ is a lot of fun…. We’ve shown a lot of (Bong Jooh-ho) films here and I think a lot of people are waiting on this one.”

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