The greatest female performance I’ve seen so far this year is Zoe Kazan in the titular Ruby Sparks, a role that she wrote for herself. Now I don’t think that I need to ‘rectify’ anything but I’m sure you’re all thinking that I need to watch more movies. Well, TIFF fixes that. In ten days, the festival gives us a dose of what will be in our theatres for the next season, and they are also a way for actresses – established, relatively obscure or upcoming ones – to show what they’ve got to the most eager and eclectic movie lovers in the world.
Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone – This seems like a quiet movie but then I watched the trailer and saw Cotillard play fifty interpretations of broken. She was always third in my mind, especially with her clunky work in American movies that can only be described as passable. But this film might just make her jump to first in my heart.
Keira Knightley in Anna Karenina – Keira Knightly is a good actress, and some people agree with me on this, ok? (Eds note – Where’s the proof?) If she pulls this off, she can complete her hat trick of overlooked awesomeness, pulling the rug out from under actors like Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender in movies like Never Let Me Go? and A Dangerous Method.
Maggie Smith in Quartet – Back up other festivals because we TIFFers get to see Quartet first. This movie, based on Ronald Harwood’s play, is Dustin Hoffman’s highly-anticipated directorial debut and he has Maggie Smith on his team playing Jean, an opera singer stirring things up in a retirement home for a musical clientele. Will she do her own singing? It doesn’t matter because she’s Maggie fricking Smith.
Zhang Ziyi in Dangerous Liaisons – Director Hur Jun-ho gives one of my favourite actresses ever, Zhang Ziyi, a great challenge in casting her in this new adaptation of Cholderos de Laclos’ epistolary novel of the same name. She plays Du Fenyu, based on the character Madame de Tourvel, a woman of 1930’s Shanghai whose innocence comes into conflict with a blossoming sexuality. The trailer already shows how she can convey desire and sorrow, marking a truly great actress.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Smashed – Mary Elizabeth Winstead is my MVP in 2010’s Scott Pilgrim because of her voice and poise, giving the love interest archetype a different colour. Winstead retells Ramona Flowers’ troubled past but in James Ponsoldt’s Smashed she makes her audience confront Kate Hannah’s present drug addiction. The buzz for her performance here has started in Sundance and it will continue to build until the whole world will get to see what her talent can offer.
Isabelle Huppert in Dormant Beauty – Huppert’s buzzier film is Amour but she’s barely mentioned in reviews of that movie, despite being Isabelle Huppert, who I would call the best French actress ever had I seen The Piano Teacher. She leads an ensemble cast who have to live amongst people with comas. I’m not trying to dissuade you from seeing Amour but that movie will come out and depress you during winter. This might not get limited distribution here in Canada.
Olivia Williams in Hyde Park on Hudson – Early reviews have not been nice to this movie and, if I take their word for it, it deserves the lack of praise. Director Roger Michell’s takes us to the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (Bill Murray) affair with his cousin (Laura Linney), but I hope that Olivia Williams will show her usual innate strength in playing FDR’s wife Eleanor, without relying on stereotypes of what we the audience think of her historically. She’s the reason I’ll be buying a ticket.
Halle Berry in Cloud Atlas – Unlike Scott Weinberg, I’m actually looking forward to Halle Berry’s comeback, and I shouldn’t be using that word because she has starred in under-watched curiosities after her Oscar win. It’s her mix of beauty and pathos that still gets her in the door. Despite being in an all-star cast to end all-star casts, she can make her two subplots stand out. I’m jealous of people seeing this and I also can’t wait to see what they will tell us about it and one of its many stars.
Rachel McAdams in Passion – McAdams mixes up her good romance movies with vampy ones, and as her career progresses it’s as if she’s trying to see what would happen if Regina George grew up. Passion is based the French movie Love Crime, where Kristin Scott Thomas cobbled the shoes McAdams has to fill. This also looks like a chance for her to dive into the inner bad girl within the heroines of director Brian de Palma’s hero, Alfred Hitchcock.
Janet McTeer in Hannah Arendt – This movie seems like the Barbara Sukowa show but being the MVP in last year’s Albert Nobbs, I can’t wait for her to steal the show as the equally tough Mary McCarthy, a writer who deserves a biopic of her own.