Toronto International Film Festival 2014

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson plays an American president chased through the Scandinavian wilderness in “Big Game”.

Ever since its founding in 1976, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) invites mega celebs and filmmakers to show off their latest indie movies and personally crafted flicks in Toronto, Canada. As far as star power and early Oscar-worthy buzz, TIFF is second only to the Cannes International Film Festival in Cannes, France. This year’s TIFF, which runs from September 4 to September 14, is already glittering with red carpet magic and silver screen debuts that are dazzling both Hollywood insiders and public attendees.

In the Big Game, which debuted at TIFF, Samuel L. Jackson plays an American president chased through the Scandinavian wilderness by bad guys after his Air Force One plane is attacked. His only chance of surviving? A helpful 13-year-old boy! The movie comes from Finland’s Jalmari Helander, a writer and director who made waves in 2010 with Rare Exports, about a huge Santa Claus monster. Whoa.

Then, everyone’s favorite Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., is starring in The Judge, which explores a father-son relationship drama. Who’s the dad? Actor Robert Duvall, who’s played all kinds of tough guys in flicks like The Godfather and Deep Impact. Audience members cried during the premiere of The Judge, which is a 2.5 hour movie about a top-notch Chicago lawyer (RDJ’s character) returning to his hometown to defend his dad (Duvall) in court.

From serious debuts to a romantic one, The Last 5 Years is a film adaptation of a very popular Off-Broadway musical, and is sure to be a song-filled hit when it releases on Valentine’s Day in 2015. It stars Smash’s Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick (of Pitch Perfect and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fame), where Kendrick plays Cathy, a struggling actress in a relationship with young novelist Jamie (played by Jordan). The catch? Cathy’s story moves backwards in time from the end of their marriage to the beginning, while Jamie’s moves forward as their marriage falls apart. Their timelines meet in the middle, when Jamie proposes. Dramatic! Then, Captain America star Chris Evans has taken to the director’s chair, with his romantic tale of a man (Evans) who helps a woman (played by Alice Eve from Star Trek Into Darkness) that’s robbed and stranded in New York City.

Theory of Everything
“The Theory of Everything”, about real-life physicist Stephen Hawking, is drawing major Oscar buzz.

On the more humorous side of the fence, comedian Bill Murray (known for Groundhog Day and Ghostbusters, among dozens of movies) was honored with an official Bill Murray Day at TIFF! He even wore a crown and a sash to mark the occasion, and the debut of his new movie St. Vincent resulted in a long standing ovation. The comedy-drama film centers around a rough-around-the-edges war veteran (Murray) who befriends the boy next door.

For Oscar-worthy entries, The Theory of Everything looks positively golden. It explores the real-life story of physicist Stephen Hawking (played by Les Miserables actor Eddie Redmayne) and his loving wife Jane (portrayed by Like Crazy‘s Felicity Jones). The movie follows Hawking’s rise from Cambridge to become a legendary physicist, and his battle with motor-neurone disease, which has left him crippled in a wheelchair and barely able to communicate. His mind, though, is sharp as ever.

Images courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival.