10 Films to Watch at the Toronto Film Festival 2014

Courtesy of TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival is an early indicator for Oscar glory—and you don’t need to be a red-carpet regular to score a seat.

The natural world offers us changing colors to mark the arrival of fall; the movie world gives us the Toronto International Film Festival (tiff.net), whose fanfare marks the end of the blockbuster summer and the beginning of prestige season.

The road between Toronto and the Oscars is a well-traveled one, so it’s no surprise that filmmakers clamor to be a part of this long-standing, eleven-day event. This year the festival’s 39th incarnation showcases a dizzying array of 393 films—143 of which are world premières—from September 4–14, 2014. Despite that embarrassment of riches, Toronto’s size does not dilute its glamour quotient in the least. During the festival, Toronto’s riverfront downtown becomes a traveling parade of stars, publicists and journalists, all jockeying to launch (and cover) the next Best Picture winner.

This year, in a bid to guard its turf against the small but influential Telluride Film Festival, Toronto has also instituted a strict première policy that has split the film world: No film would get a coveted slot in the festival’s first four days if it had been screened elsewhere. (Telluride had managed to screen four of the last six Best Picture winners, despite their having world premières at Toronto.)

The best part of the Toronto Film Festival, though, may be that the organizers have taken pains to make sure that mere mortals can access even the hottest of tickets—unlike at the snootier Cannes (tickets start at $18). That said, if you’re lucky enough to be in Toronto this September, winnowing down the selection of World Premières can be a challenge.

To help you navigate the labyrinth of Toronto’s 2014 slate, Departures offers its ten most anticipated films of the festival.