Powerful characters take silver screen at Toronto Film Festival

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This year’s Toronto International Film Festival closed out with its biggest event yet.

With over 390 films shown this year, the festival has come a long way in its nearly 40-year history.

Founded in 1976 under the name “The Festival of Festivals,” the Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF, has grown into one of the most prominent film showcases on the planet.

Much of the mystique of the festival revolves around the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This audience award has been a preliminary achievement of many of the Oscar winners of the past two decades including “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Twelve Years a Slave.”

This Year the honor went to “The Imitation Game,” a biopic about the homosexual British mathematician Alan Turing who managed to break the Enigma Code.

The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley and is set to release Nov. 21 in the United States.

Not far behind was another British biopic. “The Theory of Everything” which portrays how Stephen Hawking dealt with the personal, medical and astrophysical problems throughout his life. The film took inspiration from a memoir written by Jane Wilde, former wife of Hawking, and is set to hit theaters in November as well.

With two biopics paving the way, the most buzzed-about films this year were the character studies.

“Fox Catcher” is giving Steve Carell a test of his dramatic acting as he portrays the wealthy, eccentric and disturbed real-life figure John Dupont.

First time director Theodore Melfi was a runner-up for the top prize with the Bill Murray-led film, “St. Vincent.” This film centers on the offbeat friendship between two neighbors.

Jake Gyllenhaal took a turn for the sinister in “Nightcrawler,” playing a crime journalist devoid of empathy who preys on nightly stories in Los Angeles.

A big surprise was Reese Witherspoon’s turn back to the serious with two leading performances in “Wild” and “The Good Lie.”

Though the Toronto International Film Festival prides itself on being geared toward a general audience, the critics made their presence known this year.

“Mommy,” one of the most critically adored movies this year, was awarded the Palm D’or. The film was made by 24-year-old directing prodigy Xavier Bolan.

Jennifer Aniston turned heads with an unsettling leading role in “Cake.” Though many of the film’s details are kept under wraps, it is rumored to be a gritty portrayal of a mentally unstable woman.

The general consensus among attendees was that the difficult and competitive year at the Toronto Film Festival will likely result in an excellent movie-going season.

Follow Edmund on Twitter @HV_Edmund