when both Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand (who starred in the 1976 version of the oft-remade story) separately sang their praises of the film. Turns out that Babs and Sean weren’t blowing smoke; A Star Is Born wowed audiences at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and met with an equally effusive reaction days later in Toronto. The key to the movie’s success is its aching intimacy, not just in the love story between Cooper’s fading singer and Lady Gaga’s rising star, but also in the copious musical numbers, where the camera remains laser-focused on the performers’ faces and treats the audience as a distant spectator.” data-reactid=”33″>The buzz surrounding Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, has been building since March, when both Sean Penn and Barbra Streisand (who starred in the 1976 version of the oft-remade story) separately sang their praises of the film. Turns out that Babs and Sean weren’t blowing smoke; A Star Is Born wowed audiences at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and met with an equally effusive reaction days later in Toronto. The key to the movie’s success is its aching intimacy, not just in the love story between Cooper’s fading singer and Lady Gaga’s rising star, but also in the copious musical numbers, where the camera remains laser-focused on the performers’ faces and treats the audience as a distant spectator.

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KiKi Layne proved a revelation as the soft-spoken Tish, a pregnant New Yorker tortured by the false imprisonment of her boyfriend (Stephan James, also excellent, and who also appeared in the TIFF television entry Homecoming). Hunger Games alum Amandla Stenberg is extraordinary in the police violence drama The Hate U Give, essentially playing a dual role in a film that details the code-switcher’s dilemma. Mexico City native Marina de Tavira could be primed for an Oscar nomination — and major Hollywood opportunities — after what’s sure to be a breakthrough role in RomaAtlanta star Brian Tyree Henry continued to make strides into the film world, appearing in two of the best-received premieres, Beale Street and Widows, while the latter also featured a notable turn from stage actress Cynthia Erivo, who stands her ground opposite a fiery Viola Davis.” data-reactid=”77″>Hollywood’s onscreen diversity problem is going to take years to fix, but there were promising signs at TIFF that progress is being made. In If Beale Street Could Talk relatively unknown actress KiKi Layne proved a revelation as the soft-spoken Tish, a pregnant New Yorker tortured by the false imprisonment of her boyfriend (Stephan James, also excellent, and who also appeared in the TIFF television entry Homecoming). Hunger Games alum Amandla Stenberg is extraordinary in the police violence drama The Hate U Give, essentially playing a dual role in a film that details the code-switcher’s dilemma. Mexico City native Marina de Tavira could be primed for an Oscar nomination — and major Hollywood opportunities — after what’s sure to be a breakthrough role in RomaAtlanta star Brian Tyree Henry continued to make strides into the film world, appearing in two of the best-received premieres, Beale Street and Widows, while the latter also featured a notable turn from stage actress Cynthia Erivo, who stands her ground opposite a fiery Viola Davis.

was recently picked up by Neon — the distributor that acquired I, Tonya at TIFF last year and guided it to multiple Oscar nominations.) Divided into three chapters, the sure-to-be-controversial film depicts how public tragedy and personal trauma can be commercialized by pop culture and internalized by the people who produce that pop culture.” data-reactid=”79″>Lady Gaga goes from pop star to movie star in A Star Is Born, but a number of the films playing at the festival featured actresses making the opposite transition. Take Natalie Portman, who sings and dances to several Sia-penned songs in the Brady Corbett-directed feature, Vox Lux, as Britney Spears-esque pop queen, Celeste. (The movie was recently picked up by Neon — the distributor that acquired I, Tonya at TIFF last year and guided it to multiple Oscar nominations.) Divided into three chapters, the sure-to-be-controversial film depicts how public tragedy and personal trauma can be commercialized by pop culture and internalized by the people who produce that pop culture.

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Barry Jenkins followed up his Oscar-winning sensation Moonlight (2016) with the equally as beautiful, equally as poetic, and equally as affecting James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins’s Envelopegate rival Damien Chazelle followed up 2016’s TIFF buzz-winner La La Land with the technically stunning space-race drama First Man. Steve McQueen followed up the Academy Award and TIFF-winning drama 12 Years a Slave (2013) with the more commercial but nonetheless riveting female-lead heist thriller Widows. And McQueen’s 2014 Oscars competitor Alfonso Cuarón followed up his own acclaimed astronaut thriller Gravity (2013) with the raved-about Roma. Add first-timer Bradley Cooper (no, we’re not calling him an auteur… yet) to the mix for A Star Is Born and the Oscar race might already be solidified.” data-reactid=”104″>The very concept of an “auteur” — a filmmaker so in command of his work that he’s considered “the author” of his movies — has long been debated. But if such a thing does exist there was the work of at least four of them on display in Toronto. Barry Jenkins followed up his Oscar-winning sensation Moonlight (2016) with the equally as beautiful, equally as poetic, and equally as affecting James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk. Jenkins’s Envelopegate rival Damien Chazelle followed up 2016’s TIFF buzz-winner La La Land with the technically stunning space-race drama First Man. Steve McQueen followed up the Academy Award and TIFF-winning drama 12 Years a Slave (2013) with the more commercial but nonetheless riveting female-lead heist thriller Widows. And McQueen’s 2014 Oscars competitor Alfonso Cuarón followed up his own acclaimed astronaut thriller Gravity (2013) with the raved-about Roma. Add first-timer Bradley Cooper (no, we’re not calling him an auteur… yet) to the mix for A Star Is Born and the Oscar race might already be solidified.

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overwhelmingly positive social media response to his full-frontal moment as “pretty cool.” Not to be outdone, another comic-book-movie star — Age of Ultron‘s Aaron Taylor-Johnson — got graphic as well, stripping down to his birthday suit for a shower scene in the recovery drama A Million Little Pieces, adapted from the famously fictionalized “memoir” by James Frey. Since Taylor-Johnson co-wrote the script with the movie’s director (and his real-life spouse) Sam Taylor-Johnson, he’s got no one to blame for his impending Tumblr notoriety but himself.” data-reactid=”126″>TIFF’s opening night film, Outlaw King, was mostly met by polite shrugs, but one element of David Mackenzie’s medieval drama did cause viewers to stand at attention: star Chris Pine went the full monty. Demonstrating his commitment to 14th century realism, Wonder Woman‘s leading man let it all hang out as Scottish freedom fighter Robert the Bruce, and called the overwhelmingly positive social media response to his full-frontal moment as “pretty cool.” Not to be outdone, another comic-book-movie star — Age of Ultron‘s Aaron Taylor-Johnson — got graphic as well, stripping down to his birthday suit for a shower scene in the recovery drama A Million Little Pieces, adapted from the famously fictionalized “memoir” by James Frey. Since Taylor-Johnson co-wrote the script with the movie’s director (and his real-life spouse) Sam Taylor-Johnson, he’s got no one to blame for his impending Tumblr notoriety but himself.

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Beautiful Boy and Ben Is Back are, and which was better. (For the record, our unofficial poll favored the latter.) The somber Beautiful Boy stars Steve Carell as a Northern California father who watches helplessly as his college-aged son (Timothée Chalamet) falls into a seemingly endless cycle of methamphetamine abuse, while the (slightly) lighter-at-times Ben Is Back stars Julia Roberts as a Westchester, N.Y., woman determined not to let her college-aged son (Lucas Hedges) fall back into a cycle of heroin abuse after he arrives home unexpectedly one Christmas night. Premiering only days later was A Million Little Pieces, which focuses more on the rehab treatment of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s drug and alcohol-abusing writer. Alcoholism also figured prominently into a pair of the festival’s most buzzed-about films, A Star Is Born (where Bradly Cooper simultaneously grooms/romances Lady Gaga, and self-destructs) and Can You Ever Forgive Me? (which mostly plays Melissa McCarthy’s booze-hounding for laughs, admittedly).” data-reactid=”148″>One of the biggest conversations at TIFF concerned how similar the young drug addict stories Beautiful Boy and Ben Is Back are, and which was better. (For the record, our unofficial poll favored the latter.) The somber Beautiful Boy stars Steve Carell as a Northern California father who watches helplessly as his college-aged son (Timothée Chalamet) falls into a seemingly endless cycle of methamphetamine abuse, while the (slightly) lighter-at-times Ben Is Back stars Julia Roberts as a Westchester, N.Y., woman determined not to let her college-aged son (Lucas Hedges) fall back into a cycle of heroin abuse after he arrives home unexpectedly one Christmas night. Premiering only days later was A Million Little Pieces, which focuses more on the rehab treatment of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s drug and alcohol-abusing writer. Alcoholism also figured prominently into a pair of the festival’s most buzzed-about films, A Star Is Born (where Bradly Cooper simultaneously grooms/romances Lady Gaga, and self-destructs) and Can You Ever Forgive Me? (which mostly plays Melissa McCarthy’s booze-hounding for laughs, admittedly).

of a registered sex offender in the movie — a brave action that was lauded on social media even though it resulted in her reportedly being “chastised” by her employers. If you think those pre-release headlines were bad, the movie proved to be pretty lousy as well, marred by underwhelming action and forced attempts at humor. Apparently, Arnold Schwarzenegger was right to say, “I won’t be back” to the latest attempt to sequalize his 1987 action favorite.” data-reactid=”150″>Toronto provided the launching pad for the would-be revivals of two dormant franchises: Predator and Halloween. Based on the mixed reaction to Shane Black’s The Predator and David Gordon Green’s Halloween, though, both series may revert back to being dormant. In the case of The Predator, the film itself was overshadowed by news that star Olivia Munn forced a last-minute re-edit after alerting 20th Century Fox to the presence of a registered sex offender in the movie — a brave action that was lauded on social media even though it resulted in her reportedly being “chastised” by her employers. If you think those pre-release headlines were bad, the movie proved to be pretty lousy as well, marred by underwhelming action and forced attempts at humor. Apparently, Arnold Schwarzenegger was right to say, “I won’t be back” to the latest attempt to sequalize his 1987 action favorite.

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Melissa McCarthy‘s turn as an infamous forger Lee Israel so impressive and surprising in the unexpected crowdpleaser Can You Ever Forgive Me? is how she turns an off-putting, anti-social misanthrope (“I’m a 51-year-old woman who likes cats more than people,” she says at one point) into an antihero you’re rooting hard for by the final frame. McCarthy, who scored a super-rare Oscar nomination for a purely comedic role in 2012 for Bridesmaids, should be heading back to the show, as should her co-star Richard E. Grant, who bursts with deviant, fun-loving energy as Israel’s wayward accomplish Jack Hock.” data-reactid=”193″>Comedic actors have been successfully pivoting into drama for years now (Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, etc.), so no surprise there. But what makes Melissa McCarthy‘s turn as an infamous forger Lee Israel so impressive and surprising in the unexpected crowdpleaser Can You Ever Forgive Me? is how she turns an off-putting, anti-social misanthrope (“I’m a 51-year-old woman who likes cats more than people,” she says at one point) into an antihero you’re rooting hard for by the final frame. McCarthy, who scored a super-rare Oscar nomination for a purely comedic role in 2012 for Bridesmaids, should be heading back to the show, as should her co-star Richard E. Grant, who bursts with deviant, fun-loving energy as Israel’s wayward accomplish Jack Hock.

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The Mummy star Sofia Boutella) busting moves and ends with them busting each other’s heads after imbibing LSD-spiked punch. Strickland’s alternately hilarious and chilling In Fabric, meanwhile, is a fashionable satire about consumerism dressed up in ghost story clothes. Expect both films to be on the midnight movie circuit for decades to come.” data-reactid=”215″>The highlights of this year’s Midnight Madness lineup were a pair of future cult classics from returning festival favorites Peter Strickland (The Duke of Burgundy) and Gaspar Noé (Enter the Void). Imagine So You Think You Can Dance crossed with “The Masque of the Red Death,” and you’ve got the basic set-up for Noé’s Climax, a hypnotic 96-minute freakout that begins with a crew of nimble dancers (including The Mummy star Sofia Boutella) busting moves and ends with them busting each other’s heads after imbibing LSD-spiked punch. Strickland’s alternately hilarious and chilling In Fabric, meanwhile, is a fashionable satire about consumerism dressed up in ghost story clothes. Expect both films to be on the midnight movie circuit for decades to come.

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Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet, you have to wonder if the fellow New York natives/Lady Bird costars/young Oscar nominees/friends (or faux rivals) ever had a conversation where they realized they were working on such similar projects. The pair were already drawing comparisons all over the place. Here’s another: While the 22-year-old Chalamet was the toast of Toronto in 2017, with three acclaimed moves in the mix (Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, andHostiles), this year that distinction went to the 21-year-old Hedges. In addition to Ben Is Back, the Manchester by the Sea breakout also showed his remarkable range by playing a gentle young man forced into gay conversion therapy by his conservative parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) in Boy Erased and as the bullying older brother of a precocious skateboarder in Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s.” data-reactid=”237″>Speaking of Lucas Hedges and Timothée Chalamet, you have to wonder if the fellow New York natives/Lady Bird costars/young Oscar nominees/friends (or faux rivals) ever had a conversation where they realized they were working on such similar projects. The pair were already drawing comparisons all over the place. Here’s another: While the 22-year-old Chalamet was the toast of Toronto in 2017, with three acclaimed moves in the mix (Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird, andHostiles), this year that distinction went to the 21-year-old Hedges. In addition to Ben Is Back, the Manchester by the Sea breakout also showed his remarkable range by playing a gentle young man forced into gay conversion therapy by his conservative parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) in Boy Erased and as the bullying older brother of a precocious skateboarder in Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s.

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save America” from the current inhabitant of the Oval Office. But just because he’s anti-Trump doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s pro-Democrat. In fact, the movie takes direct aim at the Democratic Party establishment, including two of its stalwarts, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Moore criticizes the former President’s handling of the Flint water crisis, and takes the former Presidential candidate to task for her ties to Wall Street, as well as her mismanaged campaign. Don’t for a minute think that he’s about to start voting a straight Republican ticket, though. Moore sees hope for the Dems yet in rising political stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.” data-reactid=”305″>With his latest documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore is on a mission to “save America” from the current inhabitant of the Oval Office. But just because he’s anti-Trump doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s pro-Democrat. In fact, the movie takes direct aim at the Democratic Party establishment, including two of its stalwarts, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Moore criticizes the former President’s handling of the Flint water crisis, and takes the former Presidential candidate to task for her ties to Wall Street, as well as her mismanaged campaign. Don’t for a minute think that he’s about to start voting a straight Republican ticket, though. Moore sees hope for the Dems yet in rising political stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib.

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no bigger critical punching bag in 2017 than Colin Trevorrow’s misguided thriller The Book of Henry, which was set around a terminally boy who later instructs his mother how kill an abusive neighbor with very detailed instructions he leaves behind on recordings after his death. Of all the films that played at TIFF this year, few films inspired as much as ire as Life Itself, a bizarre and emotionally manipulative drama about, uh … love, loss, and interconnectivity (?) from master emotional manipulator/This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. IndieWire called the film “demented, interconnected, and morbid.” Mashable referred to the movie as a “big sloppy pile of WTF.” The Film Stage labeled Life Itself an “unwieldy mess of a film.” The film currently stands at 8 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is actually significantly worse than Book of Henry‘s 22 percent score.” data-reactid=”327″>There was no bigger critical punching bag in 2017 than Colin Trevorrow’s misguided thriller The Book of Henry, which was set around a terminally boy who later instructs his mother how kill an abusive neighbor with very detailed instructions he leaves behind on recordings after his death. Of all the films that played at TIFF this year, few films inspired as much as ire as Life Itself, a bizarre and emotionally manipulative drama about, uh … love, loss, and interconnectivity (?) from master emotional manipulator/This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman. IndieWire called the film “demented, interconnected, and morbid.” Mashable referred to the movie as a “big sloppy pile of WTF.” The Film Stage labeled Life Itself an “unwieldy mess of a film.” The film currently stands at 8 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is actually significantly worse than Book of Henry‘s 22 percent score.