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TIFF 2019: Nine Movies to Pay Attention to This Awards Season

I won’t give away too many details about Knives Out, which will hit theaters this Thanksgiving; the joy of seeing it lies in witnessing the creative ways Johnson sets up his plot dominoes and knocks them down. It also manages to be both fun and trenchant, telling a caustic and modern story of haves and have-nots in the style of a Poirot novel. That same, sometimes weary touch of modernity reverberated through many of the films I’ve seen thus far (the festival, which essentially kicks off the industry’s awards season, started on September 5 and runs through September 15).

A Hidden Life / Fox Searchlight

A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s World War II drama, is being billed by its studio, Fox Searchlight, as a return to form for a director who has been making abstract, nonnarrative work for years. Like his beloved 1998 film, The Thin Red Line, A Hidden Life is a war movie that’s thoroughly anti-war, an exploration of how conflict disrupted the harmony of the natural world in the 1940s. The film follows its real-life subject, Franz Jägerstätter (played by August Diehl), a famous Austrian conscientious objector who refused to swear allegiance to Hitler, and it bears so many of Malick’s hallmarks—dreamy montages, spectacular pastoral photography, and voice-over narration. Yet it also opens with archival footage of Nazi torch rallies, and dramatizes the xenophobia and populism of the time in ways that play like a pointed comparison to contemporary politics—an unusual departure for this director.

Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach’s tremendous and intimate story of love and divorce starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, recalls colossal domestic dramas of yesteryear such as Kramer vs. Kramer and Ordinary People. A slow-motion tragedy that traces the ghastly details of courtroom battles and gutting arguments between

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