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Ten Must-See Films at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

There are so many films I want to see at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year that it is difficult to choose. Fortunately our RogerEbert.com team of reviewers are submitting daily reports so I hope you join me in eagerly reading each dispatch penned by Brian Tallerico, Robert Daniels, Marya Gates, Monica Castillo and Nick Allen as well as the end-of-festival wrap-ups from Jason Gorber and Barbara Scharres. 

Sony Pictures Classics is presenting four films in the festival and I am looking forward to seeing them all: "Shayda", "Strange Way of Life", "The Teachers' Lounge" and "They Shot the Piano Player."

Part of my summer was spent in England at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and in France at the Aix en Provence Musical Festival with the board of the LA Opera. While in England, I ventured to Sussex to visit the country house of Roger Penrose and Lee Miller, two artists who were contemporaries of the Bloomsbury Group of artists and free thinkers. There I was surprised and delighted to meet their son, Antony Penrose, who is carrying on the legacy of his parents. During a visit to the kitchen where Lee cooked dinners for guests such as Pablo Picasso, I saw a tile Picasso painted that still sits above her stove. Lee Miller was one of only a few women who were allowed to serve as war correspondents. Her entire life seemed like a movie, and at TIFF this year, a film about her life is set to premiere...

TEN FILMS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO AT THE TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL: 

1. LEE

Among my most anticipated selections at this year's Toronto International Film Festival (running from Thursday September 7th through Sunday, September 17th), is "Lee," starring Oscar-winner Kate Winslet as the titular photographer, Elizabeth "Lee" Miller, who lived a fascinating life. After gaining attention as a fashion model, she became a war correspondent for Vogue Magazine, enabling her to experience World War II from the frontlines. But there is so much more to learn about her life as I discovered during the visit to Sussex. 

"Lee" marks the first narrative feature effort from filmmaker Ellen Kuras, who earned a Best Documentary Oscar nomination for her 2009 directorial debut, "The Betrayal." She has also received acclaimed for her work as a cinematographer, and has lensed such films as "I Shot Andy Warhol," "4 Little Girls" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (also featuring Winslet). It is said that the director chose to use women in all of the main jobs when making and editing the film. The film's ensemble also includes Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough, Josh O'Connor, Noémie Merlant, Andy Samberg and another Oscar-winner, Marion Cotillard

2. THE BURIAL

I am also excited to see Maggie Betts' "The Burial," based on Jonathan Harr's extraordinary 1999 New Yorker article about funeral home owner Jeremiah O'Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) whose business is rescued by Willie Gary (Jamie Foxx). When I was a litigator long ago, Willie Gary was well-known as a successful and unconventional lawyer. He was flashy and confident and I am looking forward to seeing him portrayed on the screen by Jamie Foxx in his almost Shakespearean fight against a corrupt funeral company. The cast also includes Alan Ruck, Jurnee Smollett and Bill Camp.

3. RUSTIN 

After commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the March on Washington on our site, I could not be more excited for George C. Wolfe's new biopic "Rustin", about Bayard Rustin, the Civil Rights activist who organized it, played here by Emmy-winner Colman Domingo. Domingo's performance was widely praised at the Venice Film Festival. The film will debut on Netflix on November 17th. 

Read Sarah Knight Adamson's coverage of the film from Telluride here.

4. ORIGIN

Receiving a Gala Presentation at TIFF this year is "Origin," the latest eagerly awaited work from TIFF Ebert Director Award winner Ava DuVernay. Oscar-nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor stars as author Isabel Wilkerson, whose journey the film chronicles as she writes her essential book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The film's impressive ensemble includes Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Niece Nadh-Betts, Nick Offerman and Blair Underwood

5. THE HOLDOVERS

Actor Paul Giamatti re-teams with his "Sideways" director Alexander Payne in "The Holdovers," about the unlikely bond that forms between a hated teacher, a stranded student (Dominic Sessa) and a cook (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) who recently lost her son in Vietnam. The film will premiere in U.S. theaters on Friday, October 27th.

Read Sarah Knight Adamson's coverage of the film from Telluride here.

6. HIS THREE DAUGHTERS

One of our recent Ebertfest guests, Azazel Jacobs, will premiere his latest film as a writer/director, "His Three Daughters," starring the formidable trio of Natasha Lyonne, Elizabeth Olsen and Steppenwolf's Carrie Coon, who portray sisters who come together as a result of their ailing father's health.

7. THE CRITIC

Based on Anthony Quinn's novel, "The Critic" revolves around its titular antihero who schemes to survive by keeping his foes at perpetual odds with one another. It is directed by Anand Tucker ("Hilary and Jackie") and features a cast that includes Ian McKellen, Gemma Arterton, Mark Strong and Lesley Manville

8. FINESTKIND

Rising star Jenna Ortega joins screen veterans Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Foster in "Finestkind," the latest directorial effort from Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential"), about debt-ridden fishermen attempting to keep their heads above water. 

9. REPTILE

I am hearing about Grant Singer's "Reptile" starring Benicio Del Toro and it sounds intriguing. It centers on a detective in New England who finds his life becoming consumed by his latest case. The cast includes Alicia Silverstone, Michael Pitt, Frances Fisher, Justin Timberlake and Lee Perkins (who was also among the excellent ensemble in Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher," discussed here). "Reptile" is set to debut in U.S. theaters on Friday, October 6th.

10. STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING

Oscar-winner Roger Ross Williams ("Music by Prudence," "Life, Animated,") presents his latest documentary, "Stamped from the Beginning," which may serve as a fitting companion piece to Ava DuVernay's "Origin" in how it traces the ways in which the racism that has been woven into the fabric of our country has led to the society in which we live in today. It debuts on Netflix on Wednesday, November 15th.

Chaz Ebert

Chaz is the CEO of several Ebert enterprises, including the President of The Ebert Company Ltd, and of Ebert Digital LLC, Publisher of RogerEbert.com, President of Ebert Productions and Chairman of the Board of The Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and Co-Founder and Producer of Ebertfest, the film festival now in its 24th year.

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