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Breaking Down the TIFF 2012 Announcement: Any Surprises?
Over 60 big-ticket films were announced at the first TIFF press conference today, including many surprises. And what about Harvey Weinstein?

In just 44 days, the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival will take the city by storm, with 10 days of new movies, celebrity sightings and lavish parties. Over 60 big-ticket films were announced at the first TIFF press conference today, including many surprises.

Though plenty of other films will be added to the official TIFF roster as the festival nears – the festival’s Canadian slate of films will be announced on Aug. 8 – here is some speculation about this year’s stand out entries.

Cloud Atlas: The long-gestating time travel epic stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, and has The Matrix team of Lana and Andy Wachowski at the helm, for their first original film since 2008’s Speed Racer. Co-director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) optioned the movie’s film rights in 2009. Cloud Atlas remained in development hell until 2011, when the $100-million historical/sci-fi flick was finally greenlit. With years of casting rumours (Natalie Portman?), and an Oct. release date set for Russia before its North American debut, few predicted this mysterious film would make its debut at TIFF. This highly-anticipated world premiere is sure to be one of the biggest surprises of this year’s festival. 

Argo: Surprising no one, Ben Affleck’s Argo will have its world premiere at TIFF, shortly before its theatrical launch in October. Just two years ago, Affleck’s The Town made its triumphant debut at TIFF to much critical acclaim. The film later went on to gross $92.1-million at the North American box office, and earn significant Oscar buzz, culminating in a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Jeremy Renner. Warner Bros. Pictures, which produced both Argo and The Town, is hoping to use the same buzz-building strategy this time around. Argo, a film about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis,  stars Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and the always-wonderful Tate Donovan.

Imogene: Originally thought to have its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this Kristin Wiig-starrer will also be launching at TIFF. The film, which wrapped production earlier this year, features a playwright (Wiig) who stages her own suicide in an attempt to win back her ex, only to wind up in the protective custody of her mother (Annette Bening), a chronic gambler. This black comedy is sure to bring some brevity and excitement to the fest, and with the support of younger co-stars, like Darren Criss, will probably be one of this year’s hardest-to-get tickets.

Looper: Perhaps the only movie star that rivals “Channing Tatum’s meteoric rise” in 2012, is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The Inception star has the record-breaking The Dark Knight Rises in theatres now, Premium Rush coming out in August, and now Looper, a sci-fi actioner, to kick off this year’s festival. A populist choice for the opening night movie gala, Looper, which also stars Bruce Willis as a future Gordon-Levitt, is set to debut in theatres on Sept. 28, just 12 days after TIFF ends. Still, this world premiere fits in line with last year’s crowd-pleasing opening night film, From the Sky Down, a documentary chronicling the making of U2’s Achtung Baby album. This kick-off selection also marks a departure from the campier or more niche premiere-night picks of yore, including 2009’s Creation, a fictionalized biopic of Charles Darwin, and 2010’s Score! A Hockey Musical, which is exactly what it sounds like.

To The Wonder: The ever-elusive director Terrence Malick will showcase his latest, To The Wonder, in an international premiere gala at this year’s festival. Any details about the film have been kept tightly under wraps, though small details, like the release of a press still of stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams to The Hollywood Reporter last year, has built up substantial hype for this mystery project. Malick, a reclusive director who typically releases one film every 10 years, had his latest effort, 2011’s The Tree of Life, receive three Academy Award nominations.

What About Harvey? 

But, what about Harvey Weinstein? So far, Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, is the only TIFF entry for The Weinstein Company. This film is being shown at TIFF in conjunction a special spotlight program in honour of its director, David O. Russell, and also marks the return of Chris Tucker to the big screen.

The Oscar kingmaker is known to use TIFF as a catapult to kick-start his films’ award season campaigns, having previously done so with Shine, The King’s Speech, and most recently, The Artist. 

Still, with awards bait-y titles like Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and a new Brad Pitt-starrer, Killing Them Softly on this year’s TWC slate, it seems doubly unusual for Weinstein to give TIFF what looks to be a cold shoulder. Or, maybe the kooky chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper is truly something to see. Yet, with Weinstein’s proclamation that “this will be the year that Brad Pitt finally wins [an Oscar]” on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in June, it’s a safe bet that Killing Them Softly will show at TIFF before its Sept. 21 release date. With more film announcements on the way, expect this much-discussed crime drama to make a Toronto appearance, and build on its momentum from Cannes. 

As for the stars…

Though only a couple of names have been confirmed for TIFF thus far, including Downton Abbey star Maggie Smith, here are some possible TIFF returnees and first-timers:

(Possible) TIFF First Timers: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Darren Criss

(Possible) Triumphant Returnees TIFF Favourites: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Connelly, Viggo Mortensen, Ryan Gosling, Ben Affleck

For more, please see Scott MacDonald’s take on today’s TIFF announcement


Joanna Adams is the online and social media editor for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at‏ @nowstarringTO.

For more, follow us on Twitter at @TorontoStandard and subscribe to our newsletter.

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