TIFF 2023 Predictions – The Most Anticipated

Lots of people in the Film World have been doing Cannes Predictions for this year’s festival and it got me thinking: Why do predictions for a measly 20 or so films in Cannes competitions when you can predict the 200 or so films that will be at TIFF? That’s impossible, of course, but I figured I give it a try. This also doubles as my most anticipated films in the second half of 2023 because a lot of these simply won’t go to TIFF but should be released before the end of the year.

World Premieres

This is where TIFF can be looked down upon when it comes to other prestige festivals like Cannes, Venice and even Sundance. Being that TIFF accepts films that have premiered outside of Canada at one or potentially multiple fests, the world premieres don’t often carry as much acclaimed auteur talent. Personally, I see this as the reason TIFF is the best in the world. (Definitely not biased at all) They bring the best of Telluride, Cannes, Venice and other buzzy indies and studio films to one place. Still, TIFF isn’t a slacker in World Premiere’s when it comes to some of the bigger budget films from beloved directors. Just last year, we had The Fabelmans, Glass Onion, Bros, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, All Quiet on the Western Front, Causeway, The Menu and The Woman King. Half of them were nominated for Oscars.

Ranked by my personal anticipation.

  1. Foe Dir. Garth Davis (Amazon) (Status: Post-Production)
  2. Next Goal Wins Dir. Taika Waititi (Searchlight) (Release Date: November 17, 2023)
  3. The Trashers Dir. Cooper Raiff  (Status: Pre-Production)
  4. Dumb Money Dir. Craig Gillespie (Sony) (Release Date: October 20, 2023)
  5. Ferrari Dir. Michael Mann (Elevation) (Status: Post-Production)
  6. Wonka Dir. Paul King (Warner Bros) (Release Date: December 15, 2023)
  7. Nyad Dir. Elizabeth Chai & Jimmy Chin (Netflix) (Status: Post-Production)
  8. Rustin Dir. George C Wolfe (Netflix) (Status: Complete)
  9. Monkey Man Dir. Dev Patel (Netflix) (Status: Post-Production)
  10. Freud’s Last Session (Sony) (Status: In Production)
  11. Shirley Dir. John Ridley (Netflix) (Status: Reshoots/Post)
  12. Lee Dir. Ellen Kuras (Elevation) (Status: Post-Production)
  13. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (Netflix) (Release Date: November 10, 2023)
  14. A Haunting in Venice Dir. Kenneth Branagh (20th Century) (Realese Date: September 15, 2023)

Not all of these will be here and I’m certainly more confident on some then others. I do anticipate Taika to return with Next Goal Wins. I’m sure Searchlight would love it to win People’s Choice to give a boost to this long-awaited film that ran into some problems (Armie Hammer). Rustin and Shirley seem like likely entries with Netflix embracing TIFF’s less strict policies, compared to Venice and Cannes. Dumb Money from Craig Gillespie premiered at TIFF in 2017 and this story of the Reddit-led effort to boost GameStop’s stock feels like a perfect populist pick for TIFF. Everything else, I don’t have a strong reason for. I really hope to see Garth Davis’ Foe here, though that could easily go to Telluride or Venice. Davis’ last Oscar film, Lion, premiered at TIFF so it gives me hope. Wonka and Ferrari are definitely both a stretch but there’s usually something unexpected and Warner Bros has three big films in the winter with Dune: Part Two and The Color Purple so I sort of expect one to be there. Wonka almost seems the most likely? Really hope to see The Trashers from Cooper Raiff because we need a good hockey movie at TIFF every year. (Last year, we got Black Ice)

North American Premieres

These are usually my favourite films of the festival. Mostly sporting the best of Cannes and Venice (with some exceptions), these are the films that often come from the most acclaimed and celebrated directors from around the world and almost always contains at least a couple of Best Picture nominees. Last year we got Triangle of Sadness and Banshees of Inisherin. The year before that, we got Drive My Car, Dune and The Power of the Dog. It will be interesting to see the continuing trend between TIFF award winners and Oscar winners. Last year was the first time in a long time for a people’s choice winner to not only win an above the line Oscar (Picture, Acting, Director, Screenplay) but The Fabelmans went home empty. The last time that happened was in 2007 when David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises only got one nomination for Viggo Mortensen and he lost to some all-time work from Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood. Venice happens from August 30 to September 9 so there is some overlap but not too much with TIFF being from September 7 to 17.

Ranked by my personal anticipation

  1. The Way of the Wind Dir. Terrence Malick (Venice) (Status: Post-Production)
  2. How do you live? Dir. Hayao Misizaki (Venice) (Release Date: July 14, 2023 in Japan)
  3. Blitz Dir. Steve McQueen (Apple) (Venice) (Status: Post-Production)
  4. Saltburn Dir. Emerald Fennell (Amazon) (Venice) (Status: Complete)
  5. Strangers Dir. Andrew Haigh (Searchlight) (Venice) (Status: Post-Production)
  6. Challengers Dir. Luca Guardingo (United Artists) (Venice) (Release Date: September 15, 2023)
  7. May/December Dir. Todd Haynes (Focus) (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  8. The Old Oak Dir. Ken Loach (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  9. Zone of Interest Dir. Johnathan Glazer (A24) (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  10. Monster Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda (Neon?) (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  11. The Bikeriders Dir. Jeff Nichols (20th Century) (Venice) (Status: Post-Production)
  12. El Conde Dir. Pablo Larrain (Netflix) (Venice) (Confirmed for 2023 Release)
  13. About Dry Grasses Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  14. Firebrand Dir. Karim Ainouz (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)
  15. Memory Dir. Michel Franco (Venice) (Status: Complete)
  16. MaXXXine Dir. Ti West (Venice) (Status: In Production)
  17. Dead Leaves Dir. Aki Kaurismaki (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes)

A lot of these won’t be at TIFF. Many may not even come out at all this year, some will skip and Monster from Kore-eda is coming out in June in Japan so it may not bother to do a fall festival run in North America. I’m most sure that Strangers, The Old Oak and About Dry Grasses will make there way to TIFF. I’m least sure that The Way of the Wind, Blitz, Saltburn or Challengers make it. This is sad considering they’re in my Top 6 but oh well. One can only hope.

International/Canadian Premieres

This is basically just everything coming from Telluride, maybe a couple Sundance films or even a Tribeca film will show up here. Last years hits from those fests were Women Talking, Empire of Light, Living and Aftersun all of which snagged Oscar nominations including a win for Canada’s own, Sarah Polley.

Ranked by my personal anticipation

  1. Flint Strong Dir. Rachel Morrison (United Artists) (Telluride) (Post-Production)
  2. The Book of Clarence Dir. Jeymes Samuel (Sony) (Telluride) (Release Date: September 22, 2023)
  3. Drive-Away Dolls Dir. Ethan Coen (Focus) (Telluride) (Release Date: September 22, 2023)
  4. Leave the World Behind Dir. Sam Esmail (Netflix) (Telluride) (Release Date: December 7, 2023)
  5. The Holdovers Dir. Alexander Payne (Telluride) (Release Date: November 22, 2023)
  6. The Actor Dir. Duke Johnson (Neon) (Telluride) (Status: Post-Production)
  7. All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt Dir. Raven Jackson (A24) (Sundance) (Screened at Sundance)
  8. The Iron Claw Dir. Sean Durkin (A24) (Status: Post-Production)
  9. Eileen Dir. William Oldroyd (Neon) (Sundance) (Screened at Sundance)
  10. Boys in the Boat Dir. George Clooney (MGM) (Telluride) (Status: Post-Production)
  11. The Persian Version Dir. Maryam Keshavarz (Sony) (Sundance) (Won Sundance Audience Prize)

Long Shots

These are the films that will be very unlikely to come to TIFF. Many are big films that probably won’t go to festivals or won’t be ready, the others are directors who usually skip TIFF in favor of other festivals like New York or Venice. I’m going to put them here anyway and hopefully at least one ends up being there.

Ranked by my personal anticipation

  1. Dune: Part Two Dir. Denis Villeneuve (Warner Bros) (VFX not ready, Nov 3 2023)
  2. Killers of the Flower Moon Dir. Martin Scorsese (Apple) (Scorsese usually skips TIFF, Oct 20 2023)
  3. The Killer Dir. David Fincher (Netflix) (Fincher usually skips but Netflix might make him, Nov 10 2023)
  4. Bottoms Dir. Emma Seligman (MGM) (Will probably release before but the director’s previous film was at TIFF (Shiva Baby) so who knows
  5. Napoleon Dir. Ridley Scott (Apple) (One of these Apple projects will be at TIFF, Nov 22, 2023)
  6. The Color Purple Dir. Blitz Bazawule (Warner Bros) (Probably focused on Christmas Theater run)
  7. Maestro Dir. Bradley Cooper (Netflix) (There’s a lot of Netflix but there was last year too)
  8. Hunger Games: Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds (Lionsgate) (There’s usually a blockbuster, maybe a sleeper critical hit, Nov 17, 2023)

The Ten Films most likely to go to TIFF

Based on director’s history, TIFF’s relationship with the distributor, release date and status of production these are the film’s that I feel are most likely to show up TIFF 2023.

  1. Next Goal Wins Dir. Taika Waititi (Searchlight) (Release Date: Nov 17, 2023) Waititi has promised Next Goal Wins will be one where nothing goes wrong and everyone is happy, making it a prime TIFF contender. It’s recent push from a September 22 to a November 17 release date makes me think Searchlight has decided this should have a fall festival run and given that Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit nabbed the People’s Choice win over hits like Parasite, Marriage Story, Joker and Knives Out, it seems a TIFF appearance is inevitable.
  2. About Dry Grasses Dir. Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes) Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has had almost all of his acclaimed films like Winter Sleep and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia screen at Toronto so unless its North American distributors push it for a summer release (which rarely happens to Cannes films) then expect to see this at TIFF.
  3. Dumb Money Dir. Craig Gillespie (Sony) Gillespie’s other Oscar contender I, Tonya had a TIFF world premiere and given its October 20 release date and true-to-life nature, I think this will be at TIFF. It seems like the kind of film tackling subject matter too internet and populist for Venice and maybe Telluride so I expect a world premiere. Sony has always had a couple films at TIFF (The Woman King, Living, The Son, Jockey) I expect to see this be one of them.
  4. The Old Oak Dir. Ken Loach (Cannes) (In Comp at Cannes) Like Ceylan, Loach’s films have had a trend to start at Cannes and screen at TIFF. His films have stayed in a niche of being festival favorites especially at Cannes where Loach has grabbed two Palm d’Or wins but never break into the Oscar race and usually are low-key releases. His realistic looks at the British working class isn’t a very marketable approach but like I, Daniel Blake and Sorry we Missed You, I expect Loach’s latest to screen at TIFF.
  5. Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Dir. Sam Fell (Netflix) I picked this because it would follow Netflix’s push for Wendell and Wild as a more artistic animated film that it hopes will be nominated for an Oscar. Ironically, the other two Netflix animated films got nominated last year Pinocchio and The Sea Beast so maybe Netflix will be worried that Chicken Run gets lost in the noise of TIFF but I think this makes sense as a TIFF premiere.
  6. Flint Strong Dir. Rachel Morrison (MGM) The main reason for choosing this is Barry Jenkins being the writer and producer of this. A lot of his directorial and producer efforts have shown up at past TIFF’s (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk, Aftersun) He and TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey have a good relationship, the film was shot in Canada and it could follow Women Talking in being a Canadian-shot, American-funded film from MGM. It could end up being a Amazon film which could be good for its TIFF chances. I would assume Michael De Luca could move this away from TIFF as he has with The Social Network and Captain Phillips but those are more likely to be the directors doing since Moneyball went to TIFF in 2011 (Another film he produced). His films are Oscar contenders and for a sports film like this I think TIFF is a likely stop.
  7. Zone of Interest Dir. Johnathan Glazer (A24) (In Comp at Cannes) Like a lot of Cannes films, the arthouse director behind it may be known among critics but not as much with the general movie going public. I have to assume a full festival run for Zone is likely to try to spread the acclaim of Glazer’s latest (Assuming it does well with critics, it probably will) He came to TIFF with his most notable films in Sexy Beast and Under the Skin so I don’t foresee why this would be an exception. A24 already has Past Lives, You Hurt My Feelings and Talk to Me slated for the summer so I doubt this would be released then.
  8. One of Netflix’s based on a true story/person pieces. (Shirley, Rustin, Maestro) I have to think of these will show up at TIFF with how much Netflix has been sending recently. None of these films seem to have the critical acclaim or names that would avoid TIFF. Most likely they would do well with a boost from the TIFF crowd. Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born went to TIFF and he could follow up with Maestro. John Ridely’s 12 Years a Slave went to TIFF, and he could follow up with Shirley.
  9. Memory Dir. Michel Franco Michel Franco’s films have constantly shown up at TIFF from 2021’s Sundown, 2020’s New Order and 2017 April’s Daughter. The film stars Jessica Chastain and Peter Sarsgard, the former of which has had her last two films at TIFF (Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) , The Good Nurse (2022)) So this seems like a likely screening.
  10. Nyad Dir. Elizabeth Chai & Jimmy Chin (Netflix) (Status: Post-Production) Netflix is bound to show up and honestly this seems more likely than anything. It’s a inspiring true story based on a 64-year old woman who attempted to become the first person to swim from Flordia to Cuba. It has some star power with Jodie Foster, Rhys Ifans (House of the Dragon) and Annette Benning (American Beauty) starring. These are the directors behind the documentaries Free Solo and The Rescue both of which nabbed People’s Choice for Documentary. They are clearly welcome at TIFF and I’m sure Netflix and Cameron Bailey are looking to make this film show up at TIFF. The only question is its completion but production started in March 2022 so a fall 2023 release seems likely.

The Toronto International Film Festival returns from September 7th-17th, 2023.

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