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Stars, scandals and style: 12 TIFF movies with buzz

Big budgets and powerhouse teams mean these films are already getting lots of attention

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Anna Karenina: Keira Knightley reunites for a third time with director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) in this big-screen adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel. Expect lavish costumes, gorgeously styled sets and melodrama galore – as well as plenty of eye candy from male leads Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

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Cloud Atlas: The novel this film is based on is a sprawling work that was thought to be impossible to produce onscreen. It took three directors (including Lana and Andy Wachowski of the Matrix), an A-list cast (Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) and a hefty budget to get it done.


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Much Ado About Nothing: Few filmmakers have had a better year than Joss Whedon, who directed The Avengers and co-wrote The Cabin in the Woods. So this modern-day version of the William Shakespeare play – shot at Whedon’s house in California over 12 days – certainly shouldn’t lack for attention.


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Bad 25: Director Spike Lee embarks on a behind-the-scenes look at the creatively fertile and personally turbulent period that ushered in Michael Jackson’s transformation from teen pin-up to troubled icon. Featuring interviews from Kanye West, Cee Lo Green and Mariah Carey, Bad 25 promises to be an important document.


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Looper: It gets automatic buzz as the opening film of this year’s fest but unlike some previous kickoff selections this movie has “big hit” written all over it. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, it’s a twisty time-travel thriller that has blockbuster potential.

Alan Markfield/AP

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Midnight’s Children: Canada’s Deepa Mehta and author Salman Rushdie make up the dream team behind this big-screen adaptation of Rushdie’s sweeping, magical, comic-epic novel about India’s early days of independence. With Mehta’s eye for magic realism and Rushdie tapped as screenwriter, the ingredients are there for an over-the-top spectacle.

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On The Road: Walter Salles’s adaptation of the seminal Jack Kerouac book is buzzy not so much for the film itself as it is for its scandal-plagued star, Kristen Stewart. Already, journalists have been sternly warned to steer clear of personal questions.


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The Place Beyond the Pines: Star Ryan Gosling has worked with most of these producers several times now, on lauded titles including Half Nelson and Blue Valentine, which was also helmed by director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance. The A-list cast also includes Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta and Eva Mendes.


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Seven Psychopaths: This comedy sees writer-director Martin McDonagh pairing up again with Irish star Colin Farrell after the Oscar-nominated In Bruges. Farrell plays a screenwriter who gets ensnared in organized crime when his friends kidnap a gangster’s Shih Tzu. Farrell flexes his comedy chops alongside Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken.

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The Company You Keep: The Sundance Kid will talk up this political thriller about a militant Weather Underground activist on the run from a journalist. Robert Redford directs and heads up a near-blinding cast that includes Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Terrence Howard and Susan Sarandon.

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The Master: Consider this weighty drama a full-on Oscar offensive: Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a spiritual guru who develops a cult-like organization, while Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled Second World War vet who falls under his tutelage. Paul Thomas Anderson directs; Amy Adams and Laura Dern round out the cast.


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West of Memphis: Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder appear in this Amy Berg doc about the “West Memphis Three,” teens who were convicted of murdering three boys in 1994. The film presents a convincing case outlining why the teens – who were freed last year – were likely innocent.


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