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Top 5 TIFF Films To See In Theaters This Year

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So now that the Toronto International Film Festival is over, it is time to examine the films that really stood out and meant something. That is why I have compiled a list of the five TIFF films that I believe every casual movie fan should try catching in theaters this year.

Please note that the films are arranged by release date, not by quality.

The Master

Theatrical Release Date: September 21, 2012

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1950s-set drama about a man called “the Master” (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic intellectual who invented his own religion, is arguably one of the most hyped up films of 2012. The story follows a violent and unstable war veteran named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) who becomes friends with the Master in order to learn of a way to suppress his proneness to violence and alcoholism. Eventually, however, Freddie learns that his mentor’s religion is full of hot air and their friendship begins to fall apart.

If you have seen Anderson’s previous film, There Will Be Blood, which starred Daniel Day-Lewis as the ruthless oil magnate Daniel Plainview, you would know that the director is not in the business of creating crowd pleasers. The Master is the sort of film that raises many questions, but only answers some of them, which can be a little frustrating if you are not prepared. Yet in spite of the film’s intentional opaqueness, it is an incredibly well-crafted and beautifully acted piece of cinema that keeps you under its hypnotic spell until the very end — even if the end lacks resolution.

The Master is now playing in select theaters, so be sure to catch it before it is gone — this is a true work of art.


Theatrical Release Date: September 28, 2012

Looper is the type of movie that is a rarity nowadays — a science fiction action thriller that manages to be fun and smart at the same time. Directed by Rian Johnson (who also directed The Brothers Bloom), Looper takes place in the year 2042 and follows the 25-year-old Joseph Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who works for various criminal organizations as a “looper” — a contract killer that assassinates people sent from the future. At one point, he is contracted to assassinate his older self (Bruce Willis), but fails to do so and soon finds himself hunted by his former employers.

This perfectly paced action thriller plays out like your typical popcorn flick, but do not be fooled — there is quite a bit of complexity underneath its sleek surface. This is Johnson’s finest work, and it proves once and for all that he is indeed one of the most talented up-and-coming directors in Hollywood.

If you love action films, be sure to see this one when it comes out in theaters later this month.


Theatrical Release Date: October 12, 2012

With critically acclaimed hits like Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck is quickly becoming one of the most prominent directors in Hollywood.  Argo is the third major motion picture that he directed.

The film follows the true story behind the 1979 Iran hostage crisis during which six American diplomats managed to escape hostage-taking with the help of the CIA. Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a bearded CIA agent who enters Iran as a fake filmmaker along with a fake film crew in order to conduct the rescue operation. The film also stars Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman.

While Argo received some criticism for underplaying Canada’s involvement in the whole crisis (boo!), this film is still a phenomenal action thriller that delivers on all fronts. Argo is funny and dramatic at the right moments and filled with great performances. The film is also incredibly topical, but not at the expense of entertainment, which makes it one of the most worthwhile movies to see this year.

Be sure to catch Argo when it is released in theaters on October 12.

Silver Linings Playbook

Theatrical Release Date: November 21, 2012

This year, David O. Russell, the director behind the 2010 biographical sports drama The Fighter, is giving us a sweet romantic comedy-drama called Silver Linings Playbook. The story follows Pat Solatino (Bradley Cooper), a man who sets out to rebuild his life after spending eight months of his life in a state institution. Soon Pat befriends a girl named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who makes a deal with him to reunite him with his wife, but the two end up forming an unexpected bond.

Silver Linings Playbook won the TIFF’s People’s Choice Award and touched the hearts of many viewers. Unlike The Master, this one is a total crowd-pleaser and a very good one at that.

Silver Linings Playbook is set to hit theaters on November 21.

Anna Karenina

Theatrical Release Date: November 23, 2012

Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina has been adapted for the screen several times now, but never quite like this. Joe Wright’s take is definitely the case of style-over-substance — and I am not going to argue otherwise — but it is nevertheless a very impressive piece of work. For those who do not know, Wright was also responsible for last year’s terrific action thriller Hanna, which was a visually stunning tour-de-force, but not nearly as stunning as his newest creation, Anna Karenina.

On top of that, Keira Knightley delivers one of her best performances to date as the eponymous heroine, keeping you fixated on the action in spite of the film’s incredibly sub-par screenplay.

The film takes place in the 19th-century Russia and chronicles the life of the young countess Anna Karenina as she attempts to leave her husband (Jude Law) after cheating on him with another man.

Anna Karenina will be released in theaters on November 23.


By: Taras Trofimov


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