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Originally published Sunday, August 31, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Toronto Film Festival 2014: A first look

A look ahead to the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off the prestige-picture season Sept. 4.

Seattle Times movie critic

Local release dates for TIFF movies mentioned (other titles are TBA)

‘The Imitation Game’: Late November

Foxcatcher’: Dec. 19

Laggies’: Oct. 24

The Judge’: Oct. 10

The Equalizer’: Sept. 26

Wild’: Dec. 5

Rosewater’: Nov. 7

The Theory of Everything’: Nov. 7

Whiplash’: Oct. 31

The Drop’: Sept. 12

St. Vincent’: Oct. 24


It’s that time again: The air’s getting a little cooler, the last of the summer blockbusters are fading at the box office, and the movie world turns its attention to eastern Canada. The Toronto International Film Festival, a 10-day celebration of some of the biggest and most interesting films of the fall season, kicks off Thursday. I’ll be there, keeping an eye out for the odd celebrity sighting (I once shared an elevator with Anthony Hopkins) and looking for some fabulous movies.

High on my must-see list: “The Imitation Game,” with Benedict Cumberbatch as real-life World War II codebreaker Alan Turing; “Mr. Turner,” Mike Leigh’s biopic of eccentric British artist J.M.W. Turner; “Foxcatcher,” a true-life tale of a tragic connection between a wrestler (Channing Tatum) and a multimillionaire (Steve Carell); and “National Gallery,” legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s look at the great London museum.

All these films will make their way to Seattle later in the fall/holiday season, but TIFF gives a chance to get an early peek. It’s also a chance to see some films that don’t have a U.S. distributor yet, but look thoroughly intriguing — such as the musical “The Last Five Years,” with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan taking us through their relationship in song, or “Madame Bovary,” a period drama starring Mia Wasikowska as Flaubert’s heroine, or “The New Girlfriend,” the latest film from French master François Ozon (“Swimming Pool,” “In the House”).

Seattle will be at TIFF, in the form of “Laggies” — the new comedy from Northwest filmmaker Lynn Shelton, who shot the movie here (with Keira Knightley and Chloe Grace Moretz) last summer. And numerous A-listers will be there, with their latest works. Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall will be on hand for the father/son drama “The Judge,” which opens the festival. Denzel Washington will attend with the action drama “The Equalizer,” as will Al Pacino for “The Humbling” (based on a Philip Roth novel) and Julianne Moore for “Maps to the Stars.” Reese Witherspoon will walk the red carpet (likely in heels, rather than hiking boots) for “Wild,” based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail.

Chris Rock’s latest directing project “Top Five” will be there, as will James Franco’s Faulkner adaptation “The Sound and the Fury” and Jon Stewart’s directing debut, the from-the-headlines drama “Rosewater.” Eddie Redmayne plays physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”; J.K. Simmons is a tough music teacher to Miles Teller in the Sundance hit “Whiplash”; and the late James Gandolfini makes his final screen appearance in the Dennis Lehane-scripted crime drama “The Drop.”

I’m looking forward to Bill Murray Day at the festival Sept. 5, featuring free public screenings of Murray films, the world premiere of his new comedy “St. Vincent” and quite possibly an unscripted appearance by the man himself. But mostly I’m looking forward to seeing a few films I haven’t even heard about yet, and that just might be among the best of the year. I’ll be reporting daily from Toronto on my blog; come follow TIFF with me there, starting Thursday.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or Macdonald blogs about movies at

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