Quality awards bait is the rule on day 3 of the festival.
Wondering how to navigate the torrent of films? Our growing list of TIFF reviews is right here.
TIFF enters its first weekend with a spate of anticipated American titles, a number of which are miraculously still on sale as of this writing. Since the premiere of American Beauty in 1999 (commemorated with a live table-read by Jason Reitman and friends on Thursday) the festival has been a launching pad for Oscar hopefuls, and though Telluride and Venice have beaten TIFF to the punch this time in terms of screening them earlier, today sees at least three major new entries in that tradition—all of which look to be pretty good, or at least solidly crafted.
First up is Argo, Ben Affleck’s political drama about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, which we hear is stocked with terrific period mustaches to rival the director’s own wise man’s beard from the end of The Town. Affleck has already knocked out two solid mid-level studio pictures, so we’re curious to see what he can do with more traditional awards bait with political import. A bit lighter and no doubt rougher around the edges but no less anticipated is Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, co-written with Greta Gerwig, who stars as a twenty-something Manhattanite apprentice in a dance company. Baumbach is a particular taste, but this one looks more accessible than his more off-putting films like Margot at the Wedding. Gerwig, who so nicely grounded Baumbach’s Greenberg, has been warily circling the mainstream for a few years now, and this seems as good a breakthrough as any, especially if it keeps her out of dreck like No Strings Attached in the future. And of course there’s also Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology movie, The Master, surely the most sought after ticket in the festival, despite its impending release. Love him or hate him, Anderson tends to know what he’s doing.