12 Movies We're Most Excited To See At The 2015 Toronto Film Festival

Keith Richards, Johnny Depp and "The Danish Girl" are on our radar.
courtesy of TIFF

The most enticing time of the year for movies has finally arrived. As the fall season approaches, a slew of what are bound to be 2015's best films are debuting at the biggest festivals. The holy triumvirate of festivals began with Telluride and Venice last week, where "Steve Jobs" and "Carol" made waves, and it continues with the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 10 - 20.

You can follow Entertainment editors Matthew Jacobs and Erin Whitney on Twitter for continuous TIFF updates. But before they head to Canada for the fest, here's what they're most looking forward to seeing, and what you'll definitely be hearing more about come awards season.

Likely to Garner the Most Oscar Buzz: “The Danish Girl”
Courtesy of TIFF

Not only is “The Danish Girl” prime awards bait because of the names attached -- director Tom Hooper and last year’s Best Actor Oscar winner, Eddie Redmayne -- but the film also brings transgender storytelling into the mainstream. Based on David Ebershoff's 2000 novel of the same name, “The Danish Girl” tells the story of transgender pioneer Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo successful gender confirmation surgery. Variety has already called Redmayne's portrayal as Elbe the greatest performance of his career, regardless of the controversy surrounding his casting. By the looks of the powerful trailer, it will surely be one of the most poignant historical dramas of the year, and one which gets this year’s breakout actress, Alicia Vikander, more acclaim. -- EW

Best Pairing: Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette in “Miss You Already”

How have these two not already shared the screen? Was it just our fan fiction where Barrymore appeared in “In Her Shoes” and Collette was part of “Boys on the Side?” Well, now is better than never, especially with Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen,” “Twilight”) at the helm. This dramedy looks at two lifelong best friends whose lives are interrupted when one of them is diagnosed with cancer. We are crying already. -- MJ

Breakout Documentary: “Keith Richards: Under the Influence”
Courtesy of TIFF

This year’s fest features a plethora of notable music docs, including Khalil Joseph’s “The Reflektor Tapes” about Arcade Fire, Amy Berg’s Janis Joplin doc, “Janis: Little Girl Blue,” and Barbara Kopple’s “Miss Sharon Jones!” (Sadly, the Aretha Franklin film “Amazing Grace” was pulled from the lineup.) But the one we’re really excited for is Morgan Neville’s “Keith Richards: Under the Influence.” Neville has already wowed us with his fantastic Oscar-winning doc “20 Feet From Stardom,” and now he’s focusing on the 71-year-old rock ‘n’ roll legend. The doc, which makes its world premiere at the festival before it debuts exclusively on Netflix later this month, follows the Rolling Stones guitarist as he works on his first solo album in two decades. As long as there’s a solid amount of guitar shredding, we’re in. -- EW

Must-See Literary Adaptation: "Room"
Courtesy of TIFF
Emma Donoghue’s stunning 2010 novel all but begged for a film adaptation the moment it was published. And while the same may be said for Andy Weir’s sci-fi survival opus The Martian, J.G. Ballard’s twisty dystopia High Rise and Colm Tóibín’s coming-of-age drama Brooklyn, it’s Room that we’re most anxious to see on the big screen. The novel’s gripping first half, set exclusively inside a shed where a young mother and her son are held captive, promises one of the juiciest cinematic experiences this year. We’re also stumping for a major Brie Larson breakout and the Joan Allen comeback we’ve been anticipating for years. -- MJ
Best Actress Double-Hitter: Helen Mirren in “Trumbo” & “Eye In the Sky”
Courtesy of TIFF

Helen Mirren is bound to leave TIFF with a double-dose of awards-season buzz. The dame stars in Gavin Hood’s (“Ender’s Game”) “Eye In the Sky,” a military thriller about a drone operation. Mirren plays a colonel who learns that a British radical who's joined a Somali terrorist group is planning a chain of suicide attacks. But Mirren’s other highly anticipated role comes in the world premiere of Jay Roach’s “Trumbo,” about the blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston). Mirren portrays outspoken gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. You can’t go wrong with some modern-day warfare drama and Old Hollywood controversy. -- EW

Make-or-Break Performance: Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”
Courtesy of TIFF

Johnny Depp built a career on character studies, but he appears to have traded in original storytelling for pirates, vampires, Mad Hatters and Tontos. Since “Transcendence” and “Mortdecai” did nothing to help his case, we’re putting a lot of stock in his portrayal of mobster Whitey Bulger, as directed by Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”). Depp seems to have disappeared behind the role, partly attributable to the novelty of seeing him don makeup that isn’t affiliated with a gaudy franchise. The first reviews out of the Venice and Telluride festivals signal an impending Deppsurgence, and we are on board. -- MJ

Film with the Most Political Weight: “Our Brand Is Crisis”
Courtesy of TIFF

Sandra Bullock is heading to Bolivia to win an election. In David Gordon Green’s “Our Brand Is Crisis,” Bullock is “Calamity” Jane Bodine, an American campaign strategist who’s hired to help a politician win a presidential election. The dark comedy is loosely based on the real events behind former Bolivian president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s 2002 campaign and Rachel Boynton’s 2005 doc of the same name. What we’re most excited about, though, is what Bullock will bring to the role, which was originally written for George Clooney -- who’s producing -- until he decided to swap the gender for his “Gravity” co-star. Green’s film will likely ignite some political discussions, in addition to the other political standouts screening at the fest, including “Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe’s investigations around the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal, and Robert Redford’s portrayal of Dan Rathers in “Truth." -- EW

Most Controversial: "Where To Invade Next"
Courtesy of TIFF

This is a Michael Moore documentary with an incendiary-seeming title about war. Furthermore, “Where To Invade Next” remained a secret until it appeared on the TIFF lineup. Moore has since described it as a “comedy,” indicating the film offers a satirical look at the American military industrial complex’s “constant need to always have an enemy.” The inevitable jeremiad finds the director assuming the duties of the Pentagon, instructing the government on which terrain to pillage. We expect you’ll be hearing a lot about this one after it premieres. -- MJ

Young Breakout Actor: Abraham Attah, “Beasts of No Nation”
Courtesy of TIFF

Every few years there’s a young breakout actor who catches our attention with a stunning first performance. Based on the charged trailers for “Beasts of No Nation,” the latest from “True Detective” Season 1 director Cary Fukunaga, newcomer Abraham Attah might be this year’s Quvenzhané Wallis. In the West African war drama, which will be Netflix’s first theatrical release, Attah plays Agu, a young boy separated from his family during a civil war and forced to join a crew of rebel soldiers. Idris Elba’s warlord teaches Agu the ways of survival, but we have a feeling that the young actor might steal the spotlight from his co-star. -- EW

About to Have A Moment: Tom Hiddleston
Courtesy of TIFF

Loki is on the verge of something big. Plenty of people have multiple movies at TIFF this year, but something tells us we’ll be hearing Tom Hiddleston’s name a lot over the next few months. In addition to Guillermo del Toro’s non-TIFF horror romance “Crimson Peak,” which opens in October, Hiddleston will have two juicy titles at the festival. First up is “High-Rise,” in which he plays a doctor who moves into a secluded living community that seems ideal until violent tribes break out. And even buzzier is “I Saw the Light,” in which Hiddleston portrays country singer Hank Williams. We may have found our next great leading man, so prepare to hear his name mentioned a lot in the coming months. -- MJ

Breakout LGBT Film: “About Ray”
Courtesy of TIFF

This year’s festival is full of films with LGBT-centric stories and characters. While most eyes are on Peter Sollett’s “Freeheld,” Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl” and Roland Emmerich’s “Stonewall,” there’s also Gaby Dellal’s “About Ray.” Dellal’s film stars Elle Fanning as Ray, a transgender teen in transition, Naomi Watts as Ray’s mother and Susan Sarandon as Ray’s lesbian grandmother. “About Ray” looks to be a promising addition to cinema’s growing dedication in telling transgender stories, especially ones about trans youth, which are largely lacking on the big screen. The trailer suggests the family dramedy will also be a lighter story in comparison to the more drama-heavy “Freeheld” and “Danish Girl.” -- EW

Most Enticing Biopic: "The Program"
Courtesy of TIFF

Biopics are the name of the Oscar game, which means they’re also regularly stamped all over Toronto’s lineups. Last year, “Foxcatcher,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything” each went on to awards glory after TIFF. This year, Bryan Cranston plays blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, Robert Redford channels a disgraced Dan Rather and Dev Patel stars as mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, along with several others mentioned elsewhere in this roundup. But we’re most anxious to see what Stephen Frears (“The Queen,” “Philomena”) will do with Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal. Ben Foster portrays the once-celebrated cyclist, with an impressive cast of supporting players that includes Lee Pace, Chris O’Dowd, Dustin Hoffman and Jesse Plemons. Just one question: Who’s playing Sheryl Crow? -- MJ

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