The Most Anticipated Films at TIFF 2023

Mentioning how the ongoing strikes have hampered the film industry is beginning to feel like something of a disclaimer with anything I write these days. Yet, it is difficult to discuss certain topics without first acknowledging the way in which the strikes have affected them, and film festivals are no different as the stars are walking the picket lines instead of the red carpet. However, that hasn’t stopped this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which, as usual, is screening some hotly anticipated upcoming releases which has critics and cinephiles alike clamouring for seats. Here are some of the most notable features as the year’s awards circuit kicks off.


Dicks: The Musical

We start with this eye-catchingly titled movie, which is the first musical by production powerhouse A24, best known for genre-defining horrors like Hereditary and Talk to Me, independent-style dramas such as The Whale and Uncut Gems, and Oscar-winning all-time greats Moonlight and Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. That’s a lot, especially for a company that is only eleven-years-old, and still it’s only a fraction of the critically acclaimed, and/or commercially successful movies they have made in this relatively brief period. 

Dicks: The Musical is a twist on the famous Parent Trap story that centres on two business rivals who discover they’re long-lost twin brothers and concoct a scheme to reunite their estranged parents. It’s directed by Larry Charles, and while this is also his first musical, he has shown impressive versatility as a comedic filmmaker over the years, like the cultural event that was Borat, the biting documentary Religulous, and political satire The Dictator. Expect A24 to push one of its cast members, rapper Megan Thee Stallion, for Best Original Song at the Oscars next year.


Dream Scenario 

Given that this is yet another A24 production (go figure), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dream Scenario features an overtly intriguing premise wherein an unspectacular professor suddenly begins appearing in everyone’s dreams and becomes a worldwide celebrity. At least until the dreams take an unsettling turn. 

While this brief synopsis might come off as a horror, it is in fact a comedy starring Nicholas Cage in the lead role, so one can only begin to imagine the kind of performance the versatile, frequently unpredictable actor will deliver here, especially in the dream sequences. The premise won’t pass up the undeniable opportunity for social commentary either, as Dream Scenario is written and directed by Kristoffer Borgli, a Norwegian filmmaker who made a statement last year with his acidic satire Sick of Myself. Cage is joined by an impressive supporting cast that includes Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera, Tim Meadows, Dylan Baker and Succession’s Nicholas Braun.


Dumb Money

Dumb Money is based on the book The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich, which chronicles the grassroots short squeeze of GameStop’s in January 2021. 

Directed by Craig Gillespie, best know for I, Tonya, and more recently, Cruella, Dumb Money follows Keith Gill (played by the wonderful Paul Dano), a stock analyst who incited widespread investment in GameStop, consequently driving the stock prices up, and screwing the big-wig hedge funds that had financially bet on the video game retailer’s demise, led by Steve Cohen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Kenneth C. Griffin (Nick Offerman). The movie has already drawn positive reviews, and features a stacked cast that also includes Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, Sebastian Stan, Shailene Woodley, Dane DeHaan, and Seth Rogen. 



Perhaps the “buzziest” of the movies on this list, Nyad earliest reviews are proving that it is anything but Oscar bait. Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin – the partners in both life and filmmaking who have previously won Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards for their stellar work on Free Solo – this is their first foray into feature cinema, which depicts author and long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad’s ultimately successful attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida…without using a shark cage. Of course, this isn’t some schlockfest set around cheap thrills, and thus Nyad also delves into her personal struggles of its titular figure, depicted by the legendary Annette Benning, who some are predicting will receive numerous Best Actress nominations in the coming months, perhaps even at the Academy Awards. She is supported by fellow legend Jodie Foster, who plays Diana Nyad’s partner Bonnie and is also garnering a great deal of attention this early in the awards race.


The Boy and the Heron

The final entry in my list was unavoidable, as it may be the final film from one of the greatest and most influential animated filmmakers of all time, Hayao Miyazaki. A co-founder of Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki has written and directed many films under the banner of this institutional production house, with 1988’s My Neighbour Tortoro and 2001’s Spirited Away ranking amongst the most significant events in the history of animations, with the latter even landing him the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. 

Miyazaki has arguably the most recognisable name in animation short of Walt Disney, and Studio Ghibli proved as much by releasing release The Boy and the Heron with no marketing material whatsoever. That means no trailer, no images, no synopsis of the story prior to release, which is unheard of in the days of the internet and social media. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the movie has been released to widespread acclaim for its animation and fantastical yet emotional story, about a boy who discovers a tower in his new town that leads to an entire new world, in which he befriends a grey heron.

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