On Movies: Toronto Film Festival to open Thursday

Posted: September 03, 2012

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bradley Cooper will be there. Marion Cotillard and Penelope Cruz will be there. Bill Murray and Tom Hanks and Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Halle Berry and Jennifer Lawrence and Keira Knightley and Jackie Chan will be there.

So, too, will hundreds of filmmakers, journalists, acquisition execs, festival programmers, and thousands and thousands of movie lovers. The 37th Toronto International Film Festival begins its eleven-day run Thursday - with the premiere of Rian Johnson'sLooper, a time-travel thriller starring the aforementioned Gordon-Levitt, and Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels.

As in past years, the studios are using the largest moviefest in North America to launch their prestige pictures, the ones that will be jockeying for awards consideration in the coming months.

Here are thumbnails of 20 of the the most anticipated, the most hyped, the literary adaptations, the docs, the Oscar contenders, and the potentially controversial slated for Toronto:

Amour: The grand prize winner at Cannes, Michael Haneke's portrait of a couple in old age, starring screen legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.  

Argo: Ben Affleck stars in, and directs, this thriller about a CIA extraction in 1975 Iran - with the "exfiltration" team posing as a Hollywood movie crew.

Beyond the Hills: Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu returns with his first feature since 2007's Cannes-winning 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Cloud Atlas: David Mitchell's ripple-effect novel gets adapted by Tom Tykwer and siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski. With Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and many, many more.

Frances Ha: Noah (The Squid and the Whale)Baumbach writes for and directs Greta Gerwig, who plays an aspiring dancer adrift in New York.

The Hunt: Mads Mikkelsen stars in Thomas ( The Celebration) Vinterberg's examination of how a simple lie threatens a man's life and career.

Hyde Park on Hudson: In which Bill Murray portrays Franklin Delano Roosevelt, hosting the British royals at his Upstate New York compound on the eve of World War II, and trying to keep his secret affair with distant cousin Margaret Stuckley ( Laura Linney) a secret.

The Impossible: A British family vacationing in Thailand is engulfed in the devastation of the 2006 tsunami. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star in this harrowing true-life tale.

In Another Country: Fearless French star Isabelle Huppert goes to work for Korean master moviemaker Hong Sang-soo, playing three - yes, three - characters in a seaside town.

A Liar's Autobiography: Subtitled "The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman," an animated, and apocryphal, memoir of the Monty Python ensembler.

Marilyn: A documentary omnibus, with numerous stars (Elizabeth Banks, Lindsay Lohan, Paul Giamatti, Viola Davis, Adrien Brody, Glenn Close) reading the private letters and journal entries of screen goddess Marilyn Monroe.

The Master: Paul Thomas Anderson, last seen collecting nominations and awards with 2007's There Will Be Blood, screens his thinly veiled biography of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, here called Lancaster Dodd and played by Philip Seymour Hoffman. With Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix.

Midnight's Children: Director Deepa Mehta tackles Salman Rushdie's prize-winning novel, about a maternity ward switcheroo in 1947 India and its fateful consequences.

Much Ado About Nothing: Joss (The Avengers) Whedon serves up a modern-dress take on Shakespeare's lovers-spat comedy, but in the original iambic pentameter.

The Place Beyond the Pines: Blue Valentine'sDerek Cianfrance pits Ryan Gosling, as a bank-robbing motorcyclist, against Bradley Cooper as a rookie cop. Tension ensues.

Quartet: Dustin Hoffman, after 50 years in the biz, tries on a director's hat in this high-cult comedy about four retired opera singers. With Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, and Maggie Smith.

Rust & Bone: A homeless guy with a kid, and a beautiful trainer of killer whales meet after a tragedy. Oscar winner Marion Cotillard gets serious.

Seven Psychopaths: Playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonough reteams with his In Bruges star Colin Farrell, who plays a struggling screenwriter who has a run-in with some LaLa Land gangster types.

Silver Linings Playbook: Based on Philadelphia schoolteacher-turned-writer Matthew Quick's comedic novel about a messed-up guy trying to put his life on track after a turn in a mental institution. With Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, shot in and around Philadelphia.

To the Wonder: What happened to Terrence Malick the procrastinator? After taking a little break between 1978's Days of Heaven and 1998's The Thin Red Line, the Texas-based auteur has been on a tear. Last year at Toronto it was the Oscar-nominated The Tree of Life with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. This year it's To the Wonder, with Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. And Malick's got at least three more in the hopper.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies

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