Adios summer, the fall festival season has begun! On the heels of Venice and Telluride, the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this week with tons of films we can’t wait to see. The fall festivals are a time when we can finally put the ugly remnants of summer movie season behind us (especially this year), and get a look at the movies that may redeem the year in cinema.

A handful of highly anticipated Toronto premieres already made our Fall movie preview, from Blair Witch to The Birth of a Nation to Mascots. For our Toronto preview, we looked at movies making their world premieres, ones that have been on our radars for months, and one of the most anticipated TV shows of the year. Here’s a look at the stuff we can’t wait to see and the ones you’re bound to hear about over the next week.

American Pastoral


American Pastoral finds Ewan McGregor in front of and behind the camera. Making his directorial debut, McGregor stars as Jewish-American businessman Seymour Levov whose life takes a turn when his daughter (Dakota Fanning) becomes an anti-war activist. Based Philip Roth’s novel, American Pastoral follows Levov’s family against the backdrop of the social and political turmoil of the Lyndon B. Johnson administration. It will be interesting to see how McGregor handles such dramatic material as a director, but mostly the film looks to offer some promising supporting performances from Fanning, Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black), and Jennifer Connelly. – Erin Whitney



No man or woman is climbing faster on my personal list of favorite working directors than Denis Villeneuve, the guy behind Prisoners, Enemy, last year’s terrific cartel thriller Sicario, and now Arrival, a heady sci-fi film about a linguist (Amy Adams) recruited to translate the language of the first aliens to arrive on Earth. That’s about all you need to know (and all I want to know; I’ve personally avoided Arrival spoilers like the bird flu for the last couple weeks). Nobody makes better high-brow genre fare than Villeneuve right now. Hopefully that trend continues with Arrival, and with his next big directing assignment: The long-awaited Blade Runner sequel. – Matt Singer

Black Mirror Season 3

David Dettmann/Netflix

You may have noticed television has gotten pretty good in the last couple years, and the rise of serious television has coincided with the rise of TV at film festivals. TIFF 2016 features the world premiere of two episodes from the latest season of Black Mirror, a Twilight Zone-style anthology horror series for the age of the iPhone. Created by Charlie Brooker, each episode of this dark and twisty show imagines a world dominated by — and occasionally decimated by — technology. (In other words, our own.) The episodes on display at Toronto include a curious romance between Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and a riff on customer review culture written by Rashida Jones and directed by Joe Wright. Hopefully, in a few days we’ll be giving these new episodes a 10/10 (and if you haven’t checked out Black Mirror yet, you can catch up with past seasons on Netflix). – MS

Deepwater Horizon


Once he fully made the transition from actor to director, Peter Berg settled into a very specific groove: He likes to make movies about real-life stories of survival and heroism. In 2013, he directed Mark Wahlberg in Lone Survivor, a docudrama about a group of SEALs struggling to stay alive in Afghanistan after a mission goes awry. Later this fall, he and Wahlberg have Patriots Day, the film about the Boston Marathon Bombing. At TIFF, Berg’s debuting Deepwater Horizon, also with Wahlberg, about the infamous disaster aboard the BP oil rig. With huge action, character drama, and life-or-death stakes, it should be right in Berg’s wheelhouse. – MS



The new film from Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín (No, The Club) is also his first on American soil. For his English-language debut, he’s teamed with Natalie Portman to tell the story of Jackie Kennedy’s life in the immediate aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963. That’s an amazing combination of director, actor, and subject, and the supporting cast is terrific too (Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and John Hurt.) Even better, Jackie drew rave reviews at its premiere just a few days ago at the Venice Film Festival. – MS

La La Land


If you’re going to fall in love with a movie this fall, I’ll put my money on La La Land. Based on the mesmerizing first trailers for Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash and the near unanimous praise the film got earlier this week at its Venice debut, La La Land seems destined to steal the hearts of movie fans. The film draws inspiration from Hollywood musicals of the 1930s and ’40s to find Ryan Gosling’s jazz musician Sebastian and Emma Stone’s aspiring actress Mia singing and dancing and falling in love across Los Angeles. These two had great chemistry in Crazy, Stupid, Love and now we get to see them in enchanting dream-like sequences and serenading each other in piano bars. Plus, the music from the trailers is so good (just try to stop whistling to that Gosling song). Chazelle has already proven his musical talents with Whiplash, so it’s safe to say we’re in for a treat. – EW


The Weinstein Company/TIFF

Lion is one of those true-story dramas that’s almost too crazy to believe. It’s based on the life of Saroo Brierley who was separated from his family as a boy and managed to track them down 25 years later with the help of the internet. Dev Patel plays the adult Saroo, who with the help of Google Earth is able to find the train station in India where he lost his mother and brother as a boy. Lion, from first time feature director Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) has an emotional and inspiring story, it’s got some wild uses of technology, and the hopes of promising performances from Patel, Rooney Mara, and Nicole Kidman.  – EW

A Monster Calls

Focus Features

This tale of a young boy befriended by a strange tree monster recently got moved from its original release date in October to late December, suggesting the new film from director J.A. Bayona could have awards potential. It already has our curiosity, thanks to some good trailers and a cast that includes Oscar winner Felicity Jones as the boy’s mother, Sigourney Weaver as his grandmother, and Liam Neeson as the voice of the tree monster. Will Bayona deliver another spooky story about childhood like his great horror film The Orphanage? We’ve got all our fingers, toes, and tree limbs crossed. – MS

A United Kingdom


There’s a handful of movies telling true stories about racial politics at Toronto this year, from The Birth of a Nation to Loving, but I have a feeling A United Kingdom could be one of the festival’s breakouts. The film, which makes its world premiere at the fest, tells the life story of Seretse Khama (David Oyewlow), the first president of Bostwana who faced enormous controversy over his interracial marriage to the English woman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). With great leading actors in a powerful story, A United Kingdom might also get director Amma Asante, who was praised for Belle in 2013, more mainstream acclaim. – EW

Voyage of Time


As a Terrence Malick fan, Voyage of Time is easily one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. Not only are audiences finally getting to see a project that’s been in the works since the 1970s, but we’re getting two versions of it! Voyage of Time is Malick’s first documentary and, in the most Malicky way, it explores the origins of the universe. The 45-minute IMAX cut narrated by Brad Pitt is more of a scientific approach to the cosmos. Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey is a 90-minute feature version narrated by Cate Blanchett as she ponders the existence of the soul. Sure, the subject matter and Malick’s whispery, meditational approach to filmmaking may not be for everyone, but you can’t deny Voyage of Time is going to be one hell of a stunning visual experience. – EW