Steven Spielberg, Viola Davis and Daniel Craig are among the stars descending on Toronto for this year’s film festival, a return to form for what is considered a major Oscars predictor.
Like many other festivals around the world, Toronto had retreated to a digital iteration with the advent of Covid and while last year was a hybrid edition involving a few physical premieres, it was still running at half mast without the star power traditional attached.
This year, things have returned to normal with a jam-packed lineup of world premieres led by Steven Spielberg’s new film. The director returned to his childhood with The Fabelmans, a coming-of-age drama about an aspiring filmmaker loosely based on his own childhood. It also stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogen.
“It was amazing how much of that was in his work all the time,” said Dano, who plays a character modeled after Spielberg’s father. “He shares a piece of himself that I find very moving. There’s a real gift in that, when someone of that stature and at that level of artistry is willing to do it.
After the star-studded thriller Knives Out received rave reviews at the 2019 festival, writer-director Rian Johnson will bring the Glass Onion sequel to audiences this year with Daniel Craig returning as Benoit Blanc. The latest is part of a Netflix deal worth $469 million after the streamer bought the rights to two follow-ups. Craig will be joined by an ensemble cast including Kate Hudson, Janelle Monáe, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn and Dave Bautista. “It’s a roller coaster, not a crossword puzzle,” Johnson said of the film.
Oscar winner Viola Davis is already generating awards buzz with her turn in the historic action epic The Woman King, which premiered at the festival on Friday. The film, from Old Guard director Gina Prince-Bythewood, tells the story of the Agojie, the all-female warrior band who protected the West African kingdom of Dahomey from invaders. John Boyega and Lashana Lynch also star.
“I’ve never had a role like this before,” Davis said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “It’s transformative.” She called the film her “magnum opus”.
The festival will also see the premieres of food thriller The Menu starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Ralph Fiennes, romantic comedy Bros which has an all-LGBTQ cast, fact-based serial killer drama The Good Nurse starring Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne , the drama PTSD Causeway starring Jennifer Lawrence, and the love triangle romance My Policeman starring Harry Styles as a married man in the 1950s who has an affair with another man. “It’s not like, ‘It’s a gay story about these guys who are gay,'” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s a matter of love and a waste of time for me.”
Other UK hopefuls include the romantic comedy Working Title What’s Love Got to Do With It starring Lily James and Emma Thompson, an Emily Bronte biopic titled Emily starring Emma Mackey from Sex Education, Richard Eyre’s adaptation of Hallelujah from ‘Alan Bennet! starring Jennifer Saunders and Judi Dench and The Swimmers from director My Brother, the Devil Sally El-Hosaini which tells the story of teenage refugee Olympian Yusra Mardini.
Over 200 films will be screened during the 10-day festival in Toronto.