On Tuesday, TIFF revealed the full list of this year’s lineup. I picked up the Programme Book (which smells amazing by the way) as well as the schedule booklet. I’ve been going to the film festival for years, and I still find this world tricky to navigate. I’ve taken the liberty of going through all 366 titles to some capacity (read plot descriptions, viewed image stills, went through the director’s filmography, etc.). Included below are the ten movies I’m most excited for TIFF14 (in alphabetical order).

99 Homes
’99 Homes’ is the story about a father (Andrew Garfield) who struggles to get back the home that his family was evicted from by working for the greedy real estate broker (Michael Shannon) who bankrupted him. The film is directed by Ramin Bahrani; his films include ‘Goodbye Solo’ and ‘Chop Shop’, two overlooked films that I really responded to.

‘Cake’ is about a woman (Jennifer Aniston) who begins to investigate the suicide of a member of her chronic pain support group (Anna Kendrick). I’ve pretty much hated everything director Daniel Barnz has done in the past. So why am I excited for this? The hopeful film fan in me believes that this picture will represent a step in the right direction for Mr. Barnz. I’m very happy to see Ms. Aniston step outside of her comfort zone and take on a dramatic role. No distributor yet.

Based on the novel by Klas Ostergren, ‘Gentlemen’ tells the story of a beaten up, bruised, and scared young writer who hides in a Stockholm apartment, writing the story of its disappeared inhabitants. I haven’t seen the director’s previous lone film ‘Call Girl’, nor am I familiar with any of the cast members involved. I think I am allured by this film’s still images of jazz nightclubs and cigarette smoke.

The Imitation Game
TIFF13 was the year of Benedict Cumberbatch and he still appears to be in just about everything. ‘The Imitation Game’ is the true WWII story about Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), the man who built the machine to crack Germany’s Enigma codes. My field of study is Mathematics, and I’m pretty close to this material; I was taught by students of William Tutte (a WWII codebreaker) and my interests were in Graph Theory, Coding Theory, and Cryptography in particular. What adds icing to an already tasty cake: ‘The Imitation Game’ is directed by Morten Tyldum, whose previous film ‘Headhunters’ made my Top 10 List of 2012.

The Best Screenplay prize went to ‘Leviathan’ at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and it is already picked up for distribution by Sony Classics. The film tells the story of a man who struggles against a corrupt mayor who wants his piece of land. A good friend of mine (with unusually high standards) was at Cannes earlier this year and wrote a rave review for it, which has me really excited about the picture.

Sorry Comic Book fans, this has nothing to do with the X-Men universe. Jake Gyllenhaal stumbles upon the underground world of Los Angeles freelance crime journalism in spectacularly loony fashion. The trailer alone demonstrates how great an actor he has become.

Pawn Sacrifice
I loved some of Edward Zwick’s previous films (‘About Last Night’, ‘Glory’, ‘Courage Under Fire’, ‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Blood Diamond’). The film stars Tobey Maguire as famed chess player Bobby Fischer. Steve Knight wrote the script (he wrote the screenplay for ‘Eastern Promises’). No distributor as of yet but it might just get picked up at TIFF this year.

‘Rosewater’ is directed by Jon Stewart (yes, that Jon Stewart) and based on the memoir ‘Then They Came for Me’ by Mazair Bahari. Mr. Bahari was imprisoned in connection with an interview he conducted on ‘The Daily Show’ in 2009, which presented evidence of him being in communication with an American Spy. So, if anyone has any idea of what Mr. Bahari was going through, it’s probably Jon Stewart.

The Theory of Everything
James Marsh (who made the Oscar-winning documentary ‘Man on Wire’) directs this love story of Stephen Hawking and Jane (played by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones). Hawking is a world-renowned theoretical physicist whose progressive motor neuron disease has only worsened over the years. I really like the film’s trailer.

Winter Sleep
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan examines the significant divide between social classes in Turkey. This movie is 196 minutes long. His previous film ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’ was a butt-numbingly 157 minutes long and tested both my patience and my bladder. Why does this movie make the list then? Simple. It won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and that is enough to make it required viewing.

5 More: ‘Foxcatcher’, ‘Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet’, ‘Men, Women & Children’, ‘St. Vincent’, ‘Wild

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