Bring on the eye-drops and B-12 shots.

With the whiff of fall, so comes a new movie season, and with it, all knobs ALL the way up at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The biggest spectacle of its kind in the world, this year it’s not only rolling out the carpet for an all-out enclave of code-red celebs (everyone from Emma Stone to Emma Thompson!)...but here, too, come critics with pitchforks, spin doctors with latex gloves, stylists with tricks, Awards Season gazers carting crystal balls, and, well, assorted “hanger-oners” of infinite variety. 

For me, being on the party beat, and a veteran at that, also requires a windstorm of chatter. These shindigs, for better or for worse, run on small talk. It’s the one way to survive! And, now, so you can you. Want to flub your way through TIFF (even if you’re not doing the parties, per se)? Make it sound like you’re an “insider”? Well, allow me to give you some 2017-specific talking-points and conversation-starters. Some suggestions:

Throw yourself into some Best Actress Oscar-talk by saying, “I have a feeling that Annette Bening might Still Alice it this year.” This, a reference to Bening, who’s a four-time Oscar nominee (and loser), but who’s back at it with a juicy role at TIFF in a film called Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. As it happens, Sony Pictures is the distributor behind the film, and is the same backer that locked up Julianne Moore’s inaugural Oscar victory, back in 2014, up until which Moore had, too, been a perennial nominee-but-never-the-bride.

Give off a world-weary, not-my-first-rodeo vibe at TIFF, by throwing out a line like this: “I’m not sure if the photo booth at Soho House can ever live up to the time when Julia Roberts and Taylor Swift squeezed into it.” In the history-books of the many, many film festival parties held at the private members club, on Adelaide Street, one vignette that sticks out for anyone who was there that night is the moment when the Pretty Woman starlet set off for the third floor booth with the “Shake It Off” singer. Presto: inter-generational wattage!

Strut your celeb-relationships knowledge by tossing out something like this: “There’s a 21-year-old difference between Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aronofsky, but she’s lived enough to be 37, so it’s more like” This, while discussing the romance that the mega-star actress has struck up with the director of her film, mother!, making its world premiere, as it happens, in Toronto. (For added fun, you might want to also note that Lawrence has had a history of being paired with older guys, even on-screen: There was, after all, a 15-year age-diff between her and Bradley Cooper in Silver Livings Playbook.)

Get your doc talk on by remarking, “André Leon Talley worked, early on, as Andy Warhol’s assistant, if I recall.” This, in reference to a fabulous film making its bow at the Fest about the larger-than-life former Vogue editor-at-large, The Gospel According to Andre. (In the sweepstakes of fierce, the only person that ALT, as he’s known, has competition with at TIFF, is Grace Jones–also expected in town for a whole other documentary devoted to her.)

Fill any dead air by blurting out, “I can’t believe this is the first time Aaron Sorkin has directed a movie!” This, in relation to the Jessica Chastain-starring Molly’s Game, which is on the film fest sked and, indeed, marks the first time that Sorkin–the celebrated screenwriter behind TV’s West Wing, and movies like Moneyball and Social Network–is behind the director’s chair. (Pssst...for added insider’s cred, you might want to mention that Sorkin shot the movie in Toronto last year–so a homecoming of sorts.)

Rinse. Repeat. And happy TIFF!

Shinan Govani
Shinan Govani

Coined as the “godfather of gossip” and a “celebrity anthropologist,” Govani spent over a decade writing for some of the world’s leading publications including Vanity Fair, National Post, and HELLO!, as well authoring a novel Boldface Names. Govani is an authority on the social scene and celebrity connections, with a knack for sparking thought-provoking and meaningful dialogue.