The Toronto International Film Festival announced more selections Tuesday for the upcoming 2014 edition of the annual awards season kick-off. The majority of the festival's program was announced last month, but this group includes intriguing world premieres from notable directors such as Todd McCarthy ("The Cobbler") and Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Beyond the Lights").
A number of the titles revealed have screened at other festivals including the underrated "Infinitely Polar Bear" and "Laggies" from Sundance as well as Cannes players "Two Days, One Night," "The Search" and "Clouds of Sils Maria." And yes, the presence of "Sils Maria," which is a favorite of this particular writer, means Kristen Stewart will likely hit one of the festival's many red carpets.
As you'd expect for Toronto, the world premieres feature some big names including Josh Hutcherson and Benicio Del Toro in "Escobar: Paradise Lost," Jean Dujardin in "The Connection (La French)," Dustin Hoffman in "Boychoir," John Travolta in "The Forger," Morgan Freeman and Dian Keaton in "Ruth & Alex," "Belle" star Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Beyond the Lights," Gemma Arterton in "Gemma Bovery," Mia Wasikowska and Paul Giamatti in "Madame Bovary," Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin in "Maggie," Ray Liotta in "Revenge of the Green Dragons," Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie in "Shelter," Kristen Wiig and James Marsden in "Welcome to Me" and the aforementioned "Cobbler" which features Adam Sandler in a rare serious role.
Here's a rundown of all the additions to this year's lineup.
François Girard, USA
An orphaned 12-year-old boy is sent to prestigious music school where he struggles to join an elite group of world-class singers. No one expects this rebellious loner to succeed, least of all the school’s relentlessly-tough conductor who wages a battle of wills to bring out the boy’s extraordinary musical gift. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale, Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger and Garrett Wareing.
"The Connection (La French)"
Cédric Jimenez, France/Belgium
Marseille, 1975. Pierre Michel, a young police magistrate with a wife and children, has just been transferred to help crack down on the city’s organized crime. He decides to take on the French Connection, a Mafia-run operation that exports heroin all over the world. Not paying heed to any warnings, he leads a one-man campaign against Mafia kingpin Gaëtan Zampa, the most untouchable godfather of all. But Pierre Michel soon discovers that to get results he will have to change his methods. Starring Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Céline Sallette and Benoît Magimel.
"Escobar: Paradise Lost"
Andrea Di Stefano, France
Young surfer Nick thinks all his dreams have come true when he visits his brother in Colombia. Against an idyllic backdrop of blue lagoons and white beaches, he falls madly in love with Maria, a beautiful Colombian girl. It all seems perfect until he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar. Starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac.
Philip Martin, USA
A former art prodigy and second generation petty thief buys his way out of prison to spend time with his ailing son. To do so, he must team up with his father for one last job to pay back the syndicate that arranged his release. Starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Jennifer Ehle, Marcus Thomas, Anson Mount, Abigail Spencer and Travis Wade.
"Infinitely Polar Bear"
Maya Forbes, USA
Set in the late ’70s, a manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by taking responsibility of their two young daughters. The spirited girls don’t make the overwhelming task any easier. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Beth Dixon and Keir Dullea.
Lynn Shelton, USA
Overeducated and underemployed, 28-year-old Megan is in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. Squarely into adulthood with no career prospects or motivation to think about her future, Megan is comfortable lagging a few steps behind while her friends check off milestones and celebrate their new grown-up status. When her high-school sweetheart proposes, Megan panics and — given an unexpected opportunity to escape for a week — hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, and her world-weary single dad Craig. A romantic coming-of-age comedy about three people who find their lives intertwined in the most unconventional of ways. Starring Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloë Grace Moretz.
"Ruth & Alex"
Richard Loncraine, USA
Based on Jill Ciment’s novel, "Heroic Measures." Ruth & Alex is set over a weekend where a couple (Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton) must decide whether or not to sell their Brooklyn walk up of 40 years. The story takes a comedic turn when the dynamic couple have to contend with eccentric open house guests, their pushy realtor niece, and the health of their beloved family dog — all while navigating a New York on edge from what turns out to be an media-generated terror threat.
"Beyond the Lights"
Gina Prince-Bythewood, USA
Noni is the music world’s latest superstar, but the pressures of fame have her on edge — until she meets Kaz Nicol, a young cop and aspiring politician. Can Kaz’s love give Noni the courage to find her own voice and become the artist she was meant to be? Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Colson “MGK” Baker and Danny Glover.
"Clouds of Sils Maria"
Olivier Assayas, France/USA
North American Premiere
At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous 20 years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she’s asked to step into the role of the older Helena. She departs with her assistant to rehearse in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood starlet with a penchant for scandal is to play the role of Sigrid, and Maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself. Starring Juliette Binoche, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Stewart and Lars Eidinger.
Thomas McCarthy, USA
Max Simkin repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way. Sometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way one can discover who they really are. Starring Adam Sandler, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, Dan Stevens, Fritz Weaver, Yul Vazquez, Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman.