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The 20 Most Exciting World Premieres of TIFF 2019

It’s that wonderful time of year, Festival Season! We already have coverage posted of major premieres from Venice and Telluride and we are about to unleash dozens of pieces from Toronto, including full-length reviews of “Parasite,” “The Goldfinch,” “Judy,” “Pain and Glory,” and many more. We will be covering some major films that are playing multiple festivals, but we usually use our preview to focus on the TIFF World Premieres. Which films will you be hear about first out of Toronto? Let us guide the way to 20 of the most interesting options, and come back for full-length reviews, dispatches, interviews and more by yours truly, Monica Castillo, Tomris Laffly, Robert Daniels, and Vikram Murthi. All synopses courtesy of TIFF.

Bad Education

Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, and Ray Romano star in this fact-based dramedy directed by Cory Finley (“Thoroughbreds”), about an infamous school-larceny scandal that rocked Long Island in the early aughts.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neigborhood”

A jaded journalist (Matthew Rhys) reluctantly accepts an Esquire assignment to profile the children’s television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), and encounters a profoundly empathetic world view that changes his life forever.

“Color Out of Space”

In director Richard Stanley's adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's classic horror short story, a meteor falls to earth and lands on the property of a New England family — its increasingly unhinged patriarch played by the one-and-only Nicolas Cage — with insidious, delirious, and psychedelic results.

“Dolemite is My Name”

Eddie Murphy leads this hugely entertaining period piece from Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow”) with his hilarious and finely honed turn as comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who became a legend in midlife with his outlandish 1970s Blaxploitation character Dolemite.

“The Friend”

Based on the award-winning Esquire article of the same name, a man (Jason Segel) puts his own life on hold to move into the family home of his best friends (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) and support them through a terminal cancer diagnosis.

“The Goldfinch”

Theo Decker (Ansel Elgort) was only 13 when his mother died in a museum bombing, sending him on an odyssey of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption. Through it all, he holds on to one tangible piece of hope from that terrible day: a priceless painting of a bird chained to its perch, The Goldfinch. The latest from John Crowley (“Brooklyn”) is based on Donna Tartt's bestselling novel.


Festival favourite Michael Winterbottom skewers the fast-fashion industry in this scathing farce about the grotesque inequality between a retail billionaire (Steve Coogan) and the female garment workers who toil on his trendy clothing line.


Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons' inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.

“Hope Gap”

A together-forever couple (Annette Bening and Bill Nighy) unpack the many complications of splitting up, in Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson’s razor-sharp drama.

“How to Build a Girl”

A working-class teenager (Beanie Feldstein) tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic, in this unconventional coming-of-age story based on British author Caitlin Moran’s semiautobiographical novel. Also starring Chris O'Dowd, Emma Thompson, and Paddy Considine.

“Jojo Rabbit”

Taika Waititi directs a riotous cast — including Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis — in this daring, touching, and comedic satire about a young German boy who discovers a Jewish girl hiding in his home and consults with his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

“Just Mercy”

Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson star in the powerful true story of Harvard-educated lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan), who goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned — including Walter McMillian (Foxx), a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence. Bryan fights tirelessly for Walter with the system stacked against them. From director Destin Daniel Cretton, based on the book by Stevenson.

“Knives Out”

Director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Looper”) assembles an all-star cast — Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, and LaKeith Stanfield — in this intelligent whodunit about a famed southern detective (Craig) who joins forces with local police to investigate a group of eccentric suspects following the murder of a wealthy crime novelist (Christopher Plummer).

“Lucy in the Sky”

After returning to earth, an obsessive astronaut (Natalie Portman) begins to question her place in the universe — including her relationships with her gentle husband (Dan Stevens) and her alluring crewmate (Jon Hamm) — in the debut feature from accomplished television showrunner Noah Hawley (“Fargo,” “Legion”).

“Ordinary Love”

Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville star as a long-standing couple facing a potentially life-changing cancer diagnosis, in this drama scripted by Northern Irish playwright Owen McCafferty.

“The Personal History of David Copperfield

Director Armando Iannucci (“The Death of Stalin”) brings his sardonic wit — and a stellar cast that includes Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw — to Charles Dickens' classic autobiographical novel.


Based on Lauren Redniss’s award-winning graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi’s (“Persepolis”) biopic stars Rosamund Pike as two-time Nobel Prize–winning scientist Marie Curie, highlighting the groundbreaking discoveries she made with her husband, Pierre (Sam Riley).

“Sea Fever”

A bizarre creature hitches a ride on a departing trawler, in this masterful genre film from Irish filmmaker Neasa Hardiman that leverages the mysteries of the sea to amplify the potential horrors of the unknown.


New Orleans paramedics Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) stumble upon a bizarre plot involving a series of drug-related deaths, in Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's (“Spring,” “The Endless”) stylish and genre-bending new film.

“True History of the Kelly Gang”

A fictionalized re-telling of the life and crimes of infamous 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, based on Peter Carey’s Booker Prize–winning novel. Starring George Mackay, Russell Crowe and Nicholas Hoult.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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