Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) officially kicked off last week and while it's been easy to get side tracked by Hollywood's elite and their descent on the red carpet, we're here for one thing and one thing only: the films. And boy, was the goodie bag reel on point this year. Below we've compiled a shortlist of those cinematic beauts you really need to whack on your "To Watch" list immediately, from sports comedies to political dramas to heartening coming-of-age tales — you can thank us for it later.
1. 'Battle Of The Sexes'
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks)
Starring: Emma Stone, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman, Alan Cumming
Emma Stone isn't the first person who comes to mind when contemplating a sports comedy, but it would seem that venturing out of her comfort zone and onto the court was an inspired move. Basing itself on a 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Rigs, Battle of the Sexes is the story of a woman's world champion taking on a serial hustler in one of the most watched sporting events of all time.
Release date: September 22, 2017
2. 'Don't Talk To Irene'
Directed by: Pat Mills (Guidance)
Starring: Geena Davis, Michelle McLeod, Anastasia Phillips, Scott Thompson
Two years after Mills's first feature film, he's back with this heartwarming tale of an overweight, unpopular high schooler with dreams of becoming a cheerleader. After being suspended, she decides to indulge herself and go for it; she forms a troop with the senior citizens who lives at the home she volunteers in, and enters a dance competition.
Release date: September 11, 2017
3. 'Happy End'
Directed by: Michael Haneke (Funny Games, The White Ribbon, Amour)
Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Mathieu Kassovitz, Loubna Abidar
Anyone familiar with Haneke's previous work should know that the title of this movie will, without a doubt, oppose its outcome. Described by The Guardian as a "satirical nightmare," Happy End is a soap-like drama that depicts a haute-bourgeois family against the backdrop of the European refugee crisis.
Release date: December 22, 2017
4. 'The Florida Project'
Directed by: Sean Baker (Tangerine, Take Out, Greg the Bunny)
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, Bria Vinaite
It's purple aesthetic might give the happy hue of a Disney movie, but a tale of princesses and magical towers this is not. The Florida Project is a bug-infested, low-rent motel, and the film's protagonist is one of its residents. She's called Moonee, and she's six.
Release date: October 6, 2017
5. 'Lady Bird'
Directed by: Greta Gerwig (worked on Greenberg, Frances Ha)
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts
The directorial debut from Greta Gerwig, who's collaborated with acclaimed Frances Ha! director Noah Baumbach on numerous occasions, is a somewhat autobiographical tale embodied by Saoirse Ronan's Lady Bird. It's her final year of high school and, as most teenagers are, she's precocious, full of dreams, and consistently arguing with her mother. This is a deeply personal movie, and it's refreshingly authentic.
Release date: November 10, 2017
6. 'The Shape Of Water'
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro (The Devil's Backbone, Pan's Labyrinth)
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer
Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins) fronts this typically fantastical del Toro affair as a mute janitor working in a governmental building in the early 1960s. On discovering a bizarre amphibious creature in a water tank, out of loneliness Eliza befriends it and, slowly but surely, they begin to communicate.
The movie also won the Venice Film Festival's top prize, the Golden Lion — no big deal.
Release date: December 8, 2017
7. 'Outside In'
Directed by: Lynn Shelton (Transparent, Togetherness)
Starring: Jay Duplass, Edie Falco, Kaitlyn Dever, Ben Schwartz
At the age of 18, Chris Connelly (Duplass) took the wrap for his younger brother and another friend, which landed him in state pen where he remained for the next two decades. Outside In tells the story of his return to society, and the only person he's eager to see is his old high school English teacher — somewhat understandable given his town of Granite Falls is grim AF. The movie is as described Lynn Shelton's best work yet.
Release date: September 8, 2017
8. 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'
Directed by: Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges)
Starring: Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage
God help those who stand in Frances McDormand's way as she tries to bring her daughter's murderer to justice. Months after the crime, no arrests have been made, so she decides to show the police exactly how pissed off she is — by taking over three huge billboards in her town of Ebbing, Missouri, and publicly shaming the local PD.
Release date: November 10, 2017
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris
From a director obsessed with making movies about obsession comes mother!, a somewhat modernized Rosemary's Baby that pits Jennifer Lawrence against the uninvited guests who've rooted themselves in her home. After discovering these guests are carrying pictures of her husband (Bardem) in their suitcase, things take a serious turn for the weird and leave her fighting for safety and sanity in what was once her sanctum.
Release date: September 15, 2017
10. 'The Disaster Artist'
Directed by: James Franco
Starring: Dave & James Franco, Seth Rogen, Vince Jolivette, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
If you've not seen The Room, Johnny Wiseau's indie rom-com that has gained a cult following based purely on the fact that it's absolutely fucking awful, you'll want to whip that stupid idea out of your pocket and place it before your eyeballs, stat, because James Franco's The Disaster Artist is about to tell you the story behind it. This beaut depicts how Wiseau "crafted" the bizarre assault on your senses, from the on-set spats to the careers that followed.
Release date: December 1, 2017
11. 'The Killing Of A Sacred Deer'
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, Dogtooth, Alps)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Alicia Silverstone
From the brilliant mind of Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos comes the twisted tale The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a bunny-boiler horror that pits our surgeon protagonist (Farrell) and his picture-perfect family — though their functioning is far from perfect — against the supernatural threats of a 16-year-old boy.
Release date: October 27, 2017
12. 'Darkest Hour'
Directed by: Joe Wright
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn
Gary Oldman is unrecognizable in his leading role as Winston Churchill, yet the power of his talent has never been more apparent. Described as outstanding, astounding, and his "best performance" — which is really saying something, given Oldman's track record — this is a movie not to be missed. The narrative tracks Churchill's early days as the Prime Minister just as Hitler closes in on Great Britain in World War II.
Release date: November 22, 2017
13. 'The Death Of Stalin '
Directed by: Armando Iannucci (Veep, The Thick of It, I'm Alan Partridge)
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Paddy Considine, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor
Could this be the funniest political comedy of the year? The reviews pouring out of the Toronto Film Festival certainly seem to think so — and it's hardly surprising given Iannucci's stellar back catalogue, and the strength of this cast. This amusing period drama chronicles the events that transpired after Stalin popped it back in '53, and pokes fun at — to borrow The Guardian's phrase — what had them tremblin' in the Kremin.
Release date: November 22, 2017
14. 'I, Tonya'
Directed by: Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl)
Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney
The story of Tonya Harding (Robbie) — a figure skating world champion — and her altercation with competitor Nancy Kerrigan gripped the States back in the early '90s for its Olympic-level scandal and gossip fodder. As the story goes, Tonya and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly hired a hit man to sabotage her opponent; ultimately they failed, but the story became global and Tonya's career was ruined. It's not really known how much of her testimony is true, but boy does it make for dramatic viewing.
Release date: 2018