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Toronto Film expansion intriguing

The Toronto International Film Festival starts Sept. 10.  Wikimedia Commons

Drew Pendleton

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In late July, the Toronto Film Festival became the first major organization to release its film selection to the public. With films from directors like Tom Hooper (“The Danish Girl”), Michael Moore (“Where to Invade Next”), Ridley Scott (“The Martian”) and others set to premiere at the festival, this year’s lineup was already highly anticipated. However, on Aug. 18, the festival announced they weren’t done, revealing over 100 new titles slated to screen there, several of which could be players in the awards race later this year.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the new selections is “I Saw the Light,” directed by Marc Abraham. This biopic of country star Hank Williams is interesting not only because it is another musical biopic in a year where several like it have landed to critical acclaim (“Love & Mercy,” about the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, screened at last year’s festival and opened earlier this summer, while “Straight Outta Compton,” about rap group N.W.A., won last week’s box office with a $60.2 million haul), but also due to its casting. Tom Hiddleston, who’s become a household name for playing Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sir Thomas Sharpe in Guillermo Del Toro’s “Crimson Peak,” due to hit the silver screen later this year, takes the role of Williams here, with Elizabeth Olsen (“Avengers: Age of Ultron”) as his wife, Audrey.

If “I Saw the Light” lands big at Toronto, Hiddleston and Olsen may be looking at their first Oscar nominations with the backing of Sony Pictures Classics. However, it might face some competition in the studio’s other musician biopic “Miles Ahead,” with Don Cheadle (making his directorial debut) as jazz legend Miles Davis, which will close the New York Film Festival in October.

Although “I Saw the Light” seems to be the film that could stand out the most from this slate come Oscar time, the rest of the films have plenty of potential as well. David Gordon Green’s public relations historical drama, “Our Brand Is Crisis,” is about an American PR firm hired to help win the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. “Our Brand is Crisis” shows plenty of potential and features an impressive ensemble cast including Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan.

The festival will also premiere Dito Montiel’s “Man Down,” with Shia LaBeouf as a former Marine searching for his estranged wife and son in a post-apocalyptic America alongside Kate Mara & Gary Oldman; Gaby Dellal’s “About Ray,” starring Elle Fanning as a teenager transitioning from female to male; and James Vanderbilt’s “Truth,” a drama about the CBS News scandal with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford. The new slate also revealed the festival’s closing film: Paco Cabezas’ “Mr. Right,” a romantic comedy starring Anna Kendrick as a woman who discovers that her “Mr. Right” (Sam Rockwell) is actually a hitman.

While Toronto won’t start until Sept. 10, there’s plenty to look forward to, especially after this new slate. While some of these films won’t be out until later this year or even until 2016, this year’s festival is a perfect chance to get a sneak peek at what’s coming soon to cinemas.

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