With the ongoing labor strikes in Hollywood, this year’s Toronto International Film Festival will look a little different than normal. Namely, it’ll be missing much of the star power that’s typically a big part of the festival’s draw. But while much of the creative talent won’t be at TIFF 2023, there are still plenty of movies that will be premiering this year. In 2022, there was an eclectic range of features on show, everything from Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery to Weird: The Al Yankovic Story to Pearl. Expect a similar level of diversity this time around, headlined by the North American premiere of The Boy and the Heron, the latest animated feature from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli.
We’ll be live in Toronto, catching as many films as humanly possible during the festival. But in the meantime, here are a handful of notable movies we’re excited to check out.
Described as a “heady, sci-fi examination of yearning, obsession, and existential dread,” The Beast comes via French director Bertrand Bonello. It stars Léa Seydoux and George MacKay as “two lovers connecting and reconnecting across time and space, all while catastrophe looms.” It doesn’t currently have a theatrical premiere date.
The Boy and the Heron
Likely the most anticipated film at TIFF this year, The Boy and the Heron is the latest from Studio Ghibli and famed animator Hayao Miyazaki. It premiered in Japan earlier this summer, and its showing in Toronto marks its debut in North America. It hits theaters on December 8th.
Dicks: The Musical
It’s hard to gather too much from the film’s description — “two self-obsessed businessmen discover they’re long-lost identical twins and come together to plot the reunion of their eccentric divorced parents” — but given the title and the fact that it’s directed by Larry Charles (a staff writer on Seinfeld who also directed Borat), it’s bound to be ridiculous in a very entertaining way. Just watch the trailer. It’s in theaters on September 29th.
A24’s Dream Scenario is helmed by Norwegian writer and director Kristoffer Borgli, and it sounds like it could become the next cult classic Nicolas Cage flick. He stars as a man named Paul who “finds his life turned upside down when millions of strangers suddenly start seeing him in their dreams. But when his nighttime appearances take a nightmarish turn, Paul is forced to navigate his newfound stardom.” Ari Aster — the director behind Hereditary and Beau is Afraid — serves as producer, and the movie is due to hit theaters on November 10th.
I, Tonya and Cruella director Craig Gillespie attempts to tell the wild story of the GameStop short-squeeze in the form of a comedy. The movie hits a limited number of theaters on September 22nd before going wide on October 6th. It also features a pretty stacked cast, including Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Vincent D’Onofrio, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Anthony Ramos, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, and Seth Rogen.
Evil Does Not Exist
The latest from Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who garnered plenty of acclaim for Drive My Car, Evil Does Not Exist (which doesn’t currently have a theatrical date for North American audiences) looks to be a similarly meditative drama. Here’s the synopsis:
Evil Does Not Exist follows Takumi and his daughter Hana, who live in Mizubiki Village, close to Tokyo. Like generations before them, they live a modest life according to the cycles and order of nature. One day, the village inhabitants become aware of a plan to build a glamping site near Takumi’s house, offering city residents a comfortable “escape” to nature.
When two representatives of the glamping company arrive in the village to hold a meeting, it becomes clear that the project will have a negative impact on the local water supply, causing unrest. The company’s plans endanger both the ecological balance of the area, and the local people’s way of life, and its aftermath affects Takumi’s life deeply.
This sci-fi drama from writer and director Christos Nikou is centered around a new technology that can prove if two people are in love. The cast includes Jessie Buckley, Riz Ahmed, Jeremy Allen White, Annie Murphy, and Luke Wilson, and the movie hits Apple TV Plus on November 3rd.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person
It appears that there is still blood to squeeze from the vampire genre. Set in Montreal, this film from French Canadian director Ariane Louis-Seize follows an unwilling vampire who is forced to find blood to survive. If nothing else, it has an incredible title. No word yet on when it will get a wider release.
From Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda — best known for films like Broker and Shoplifters that explore people living on the margins of society — Monster ventures into the dark depths of school bullying. It also marks the final soundtrack from composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who passed away earlier this year.
A late addition to the festival lineup, Origin is the latest from A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay and follows the life of author Isabel Wilkerson, played by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. It also stars Jon Bernthal and is due to hit theaters “later this year.”
Netflix tends to have a sizable presence at TIFF — last year, it showed off the likes of Wendell & Wild and Glass Onion — and this year’s big premiere is Pain Hustlers from director David Yates (of Harry Potter fame). It’s a story about the pharma industry, based on the book of the same name by Evan Hughes, and it features some A-list talent, including Emily Blunt, Chris Evans, and Catherine O’Hara. It starts streaming on October 27th.
Parasite director Bong Joon-ho has called Sleep “the most unique horror film and the smartest debut film I’ve seen in 10 years,” which is about all I need to be sold on it. The film comes as the feature debut for director Jason Yu, who previously worked under Korean legends Joon-Ho and Lee Chang-dong.
When Evil Lurks
Film festivals are typically a great place to find upcoming horror movies — earlier this year, Sundance featured Talk To Me, Birth/Rebirth, and In My Mother’s Skin — and When Evil Lurks looks like it has quite a bit of terrifying potential. Written and directed by Demián Rugna, the story involves a pair of brothers trying to get rid of a demonic infection. It hits theaters on October 6th and will be streaming on horror movie service Shudder on October 27th.