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Originally published Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 5:09 AM

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Toronto International Film Festival kick-starts the fall movie season

Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald looks ahead to the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off the prestige-picture season.

Seattle Times movie critic

Festival preview

Toronto International Film Festival

Sept. 5-15, Toronto, Ontario (tiff.net).

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The Toronto International Film Festival, where I’ll be headed next week (it begins Sept. 6), is a tantalizing array of big screens, big stars and movies that get away from you. From dawn (well, 8-ish) to darkness, some of the season’s top movies screen — unfortunately, often on top of each other, and choosing a festival strategy means that you go home pondering not just the movies you see, but the ones you didn’t.

I’m certain that I’ll get to Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” which opens the festival (and opens in Seattle in October), and Ralph Fiennes’ tale of Charles Dickens, “The Invisible Woman.” “Lucky Them,” Megan Griffiths’ made-in-Seattle comedy starring Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church, will be a priority; as will “August: Osage County,” the screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. I’m intrigued to see Matthew McConaughey’s performance as a 1980s HIV-positive patient in “Dallas Buyers Club,” and James Gandolfini’s last major screen role in the romantic comedy “Enough Said,” and Matthew “Mad Men” Weiner’s feature directing debut, “You Are Here.”

Alfonso Cuaron’s space odyssey “Gravity,” featuring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock (the latter, apparently, lost in space) will be there, as will Steve McQueen’s historical drama “12 Years a Slave,” with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt. Alec Gibney’s much-buzzed documentary “The Armstrong Lie,” a potentially searing examination of cyclist Lance Armstrong, will premiere in Toronto, as will “Tim’s Vermeer,” an examination of how Dutch master Johannes Vermeer was able to paint in such a photo-realistic style, from Penn & Teller. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directing debut, “Don Jon,” will premiere there, as will Jason Reitman’s latest, “Labor Day,” starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

Daniel Radcliffe, having left Harry Potter behind, will be at TIFF in three films: the historical drama “Kill Your Darlings,” in which he plays the young Allen Ginsberg; the horror film “Horns”; and a rom-com called “The F Word.” Colin Firth pops up twice: in “Devil’s Knot,” a feature film about the West Memphis Three, and “The Railway Man,” a World War II-era drama co-starring Nicole Kidman. And Benedict Cumberbatch makes TIFF a triple play, with roles in “The Fifth Estate,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “August: Osage County.”

It’s a crowded, bustling festival that transforms a city; freshly vacuumed red carpets are everywhere, and you find yourself chatting about movies with cabdrivers and hot-dog vendors (all of whom seem to know somebody who’s got a new movie out or who have a recommendation for a must-see), and wondering if that gentleman who just walked by who looked like Geoffrey Rush really was Geoffrey Rush. (Probably.) I’ll be in Toronto for the first half of the festival, (which is when the big movies cluster) blogging all the way. Follow along with me at Popcorn & Prejudice (). Who knows? I just might catch — or miss — the best movie of the year.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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