Toronto lineup previews Oscar races


The Brave One
(Special Presentation)
Jodie Foster is one of those rare talents who seems physically incapable of delivering anything less than a perfect performance. Here, she faces a singular challenge in portraying New York radio host Erica Bain, a woman whose life is forever altered when she and her fiance (Naveen Andrews) are brutally attacked. Director Neil Jordan guides Foster through a descent into madness, fueled by rage and an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. Warner Bros. Pictures will open the Joel Silver-produced film Sept. 14.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
(Special Presentation)
Julian Schnabel won the Festival de Cannes' top prize for directing this portrait of the last days of Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former French fashion editor who was left paralyzed after suffering a stroke at the age of 43. After emerging from a coma, Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) has control only of his left eye and must blink to his caregivers to communicate with them. Schnabel relies on his talent as a visual artist to depict Bauby's point of view. Miramax will open "Diving Bell" in limited release Dec. 19.

Eastern Promises
(Gala Presentation)
Toronto adores its native sons, and there are few who are as accomplished as David Cronenberg. The director reteams with "History of Violence" star Viggo Mortensen for this thriller about a Russian mobster living in London who encounters a midwife (Naomi Watts) with information that threatens to expose his family. Focus Features will release "Promises" Sept. 14.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
(Gala Presentation)
Director Shekhar Kapur reteams with the always regal Cate Blanchett for this follow-up to their 1998 Academy Award-nominated feature, "Elizabeth." Here, England's queen must deny her feelings for Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) and concentrate instead on sealing her nation's destiny as the most powerful political and military force in the Western world. In other words, less bodice-ripping, more battles against the Spanish Armada. Universal Pictures will release the film Oct. 12.

(Gala Presentation)
Subject matter as timely as today's headlines. South African filmmaker Gavin Hood's latest political thriller explores the ramifications of the U.S. policy of "extraordinary rendition" and stars Reese Witherspoon as a young mother whose Egypt-born husband is wrongly identified as a suspected terrorist and taken to a secret facility in the Middle East for interrogation. Jake Gyllenhaal is the CIA analyst who has little stomach for the inhumane tactics and must decide where his loyalties lie. New Line will release the film Oct. 12.

(Gala Presentation)
In 2004's "Alfie," Jude Law reprised Michael Caine's starmaking role as an English dandy with a way with the ladies. Now, he's tackling another of Caine's famous turns, as a younger man who seduces the wife of an aging writer, in director Kenneth Branagh's remake of 1972's "Sleuth." The twist? Caine stars as the writer. Sony Pictures Classics will open the film Oct. 12 in limited release.