TIFF 17: The 10 best opening night films in Toronto’s film fest history
A riveting moment in tennis history kicks off the Toronto International Film Festival this year — Borg/McEnroe is the opening night movie.
The Janus Metz-directed sport drama stars Shia LaBeouf as American tennis star John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Swedish champion Borg; the ferocious rivalry between the two tennis legends came to a head at Wimbledon, and the film recreates all the manic physical and emotional competitive energy of the 1980 Men’s Singles final.
Borg/McEnroe is the perfect opening night movie for TIFF. The first night of the festival is always electric, as enthusiastic audiences get ready to celebrate the best movies from Canada and around the world.
From across its 42 year history, here are 10 of the best Opening Night movies at TIFF:
THE BILL CHILL (1983)
In year eight of its existence, the ‘Festival of Festivals’ got a big studio picture with an even bigger cast for its opening movie — and people noticed. Glenn Close, William Hurt, Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Kline were among the actors who turned up to support The Big Chill. OMG! Movie stars in Toronto!
The festival had arrived.
I’VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING (1987)
Patricia Rozema’s wonderful first feature established her place in the filmmaker’s firmament even as it made Sheila McCarthy an instant star. Sweet film about a ditzy artist and her awakening won an award at Cannes and a slew of Genies.
DEAD RINGERS (1988)
David Cronenberg’s fantastically creepy thriller about identical twin gynaecologists stars Jeremy Irons (in a double role) and Genevieve Bujold. The drama, loosely based on the real-life Marcus brothers, is one of Cronenberg’s best films — and it created a sensation at TIFF.
BLACK ROBE (1991)
In the wilds of 17th century Quebec, Jesuit priests from France interact with the Algonquin people in hopes of converting them. This dark drama of warring cultures is based on Brian Moore’s novel; Bruce Beresford directs Lothaire Bluteau, Aden Young and August Schellenberg.
THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997)
A tragedy decimates a small town in British Columbia. Afterward, a lawyer (Ian Holm) attempts to organize people and events into a neat package for the purposes of a lawsuit, but the truth is elusive. Atom Egoyan’s stunning film won the Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes, and the movie launched the second part of Sarah Polley’s career.
THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS (2003)
Denys Arcand directs Remy Girard, Marie-Josee Croze and Stephane Rousseau in this tale of a dying man who attempts to tie up all the emotional loose threads in his life before departing. A moving sequel of sorts to The Decline of the American Empire, and a festival favourite.
Paul Bettany stars as Charles Darwin in a film about the naturalist struggling to finish The Origin of Species — all the while dealing with family tragedy and his own turmoil over religion vs. science. Biopic about the man, not just his achievements, co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Ryan Johnson wrote and directed this muscular sci-fi thriller set in the near future. Mobsters send their victims into the past to be dispatched by an assassin waiting for them there, but a day of reckoning is coming. The assassin’s future self will one day come for him, so he’ll have to be ready. Intrigue and action, with Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Paul Dano and Emily Blunt.
Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallee directs this drama about a banker unhinged after his wife’s death. Jake Gyllenhaal is the grieving man intent upon dismantling his whole life, with Naomi Watts as the woman who helps him rebuild it.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)
Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke star in this remake about gunmen banding together to protect villagers from a pack of villains. Rousing western with spills, thrills and a few good laughs from director Antoine Fuqua.
TIFF runs from Sept. 7-17, for tickets and info visit TIFF.net.