What? It's Christmas already? You may celebrate on Dec. 25, but I like to unwrap my presents in September. Though carollers don't sing "Have a Holly, Jolly TIFFmas" or "Oh, Little Town of Toronto," the Toronto International Film Festival, which takes place Thursday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 16, is my closest thing to a cinematic holiday.
This year's TIFF guest list includes Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Viggo Mortensen, James Franco, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart and Johnny Depp. Filmdom's finest directors will also be on hand, including Terrence Malick, Joss Whedon, Ken Burns, David O. Russell and the Wachowski Brothers.
Choosing which films to watch over 10 days is not the easiest task, considering there are hundreds of entries with as many as 18 movies showing concurrently, but here's my to-do list (in order of my excitement):
Hyde Park on Hudson--The story of FDR (Bill Murray) hosting England's King George.
On the Road--Jack Kerouac's iconic novel finally comes to the screen from executive producer Francis Ford Coppola.
The Sessions--John Hawkes plays a man confined to an iron lung, who reaches out to a sex therapist (Helen Hunt). This sounds too intriguing to miss.
Cloud Atlas--This epic based on a bestselling novel and starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant will either be the biggest flop of the year or a masterpiece.
The Master--Speaking of masters, this is the latest from director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix.
Emperor--Tommy Lee Jones plays Douglas MacArthur.
Argo--The true story of an improbable rescue of six Americans held hostage in Iran.
The Company You Keep--Robert Redford plays a former radical fugitive wanted for murder.
Much Ado About Nothing--Director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) reportedly filmed this Shakespeare classic in 12 days at his home.
Arthur Newman--Colin Firth and Emily Blunt in the story of a down-on-his-luck golfer dubbed "The Choker."
The Iceman--The true story of a contract killer (Michael Shannon) who is also a loving husband and devoted father.
This year's list of documentaries also has great promise, including Ken Burns' Central Park Five, about five teenagers wrongly accused of sexual assault; Room 237, examining the secret messages of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining; and How to Make Money Selling Drugs, certain to be one of the most-provocative films of 2012.
You can watch trailers for many of these films and follow our reporting from TIFF at boiseweekly.com beginning Friday, Sept. 7.