The Top 7 Films From the Toronto International Film Festival

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tiff-top-7-bannerAll photos courtesy of TIFF

As the Toronto International International Film Festival comes to a close and the last film gets screened for the exhausted festival goer, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite films. Out of the 296 films at the festival, I managed to see 22 of them – just a dent in the grand scheme of things, but impressive enough given the five days I was there. From charming musical homages to an insane 90-minute shootout, here are my top seven — a lot of which will definitely be contenders come awards season.


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7. FREE FIRE

Wild and Absurd Free Fire Shoots From the Hip with Crazy Wit

When it comes down to it, everyone in this movie is an idiot — which is why the film is bitingly fun and crackling with incendiary wit. What starts off as a seemingly run-of-the-mill illegal gun sale turns into a war, with each minute getting progressively crazier and more moronic than the next because of the inane people involved.


Amy Adams (right) as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures

6. ARRIVAL

Amy Adams Commands Compelling Sci-Fi Drama Arrival

The five-time Academy Award nominee knocks it out of the park in a nuanced performance of a woman, confident in her skills, thrown into an intense situation in which the country is relying on her to decipher the language of a pair of calamari-looking aliens whose language sounds like a mix between humpback whale songs and the freaky noises the Predator makes before he kills.


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5. JACKIE

Natalie Portman is Phenomenal in Pablo Larrain’s Finely Crafted Biopic Jackie

The Academy Award-winning actress is set for a wave of nominations with this astonishingly nuanced portrayal of the former First Lady. There have been many “Jackies” in and film, but none like Natalie Portman’s.


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4. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

Nocturnal Animals is a Painfully Gorgeous Masterpiece

Fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford’s sophomore effort immediately silenced all my doubts about his directing skills and made me yearn for a third helping of Ford cinema. Nocturnal Animals fires on all cylinders when it comes to style, storytelling, and Ford’s vision – one that is becoming increasingly inimitable.

 


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3. LOVING

Loving Relies on Hope and Love, Not Hate, to Tell a Beautiful Story

The real-life story of interracial couple Richard and Mildred Loving is a beautiful story of commitment that is as relevant today as it was in 1958. Director/writer Jeff Nichols, along with his stellar cast, exceeded expectations by crafting an emotionally triumphant and beautiful story that speaks volumes in today’s social climate.


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2. MOONLIGHT

Stunning Drama Moonlight Shines Light on the Journey of a Gay Black Man

Riding a wave of positive buzz, Moonlight, the visual marvel written and directed by Barry Jenkins, landed at the Toronto International Film Festival where it continued to wow audiences with its brutally honest portrayal of a gay black man’s journey. But don’t allow the hype attached to the festival hit influence your experience. Rather, Jenkins’ heartbreaking masterpiece is best viewed with a clear, open mind in order to fully absorb it’s emotional gut punch.


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1. LA LA LAND

Awards Bait Musical La La Land is an Enchanting Instant Classic

Damien Chazelle’s movie musical La La Land is the remedy for that, balancing levity and humor with auteur-grade filmmaking for an incredibly enchanting movie-going experience that will put a twinkle in your eye and a spring in your step.


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Honorable mentions: THE BELKO EXPERIMENT and HEADSHOT

If The Running Man, The Hunger Games, and Office Space had a three-way marriage and birthed a child, it would be The Belko Experiment. Helmed by Wolf Creek director Greg McLean and written by Guardians of the Galaxy maestro James Gunn, the blood spattering thriller is violent kill or be killed mayhem at its best. In Headshot, starring underrated and underused martial arts star, Iwo Uwais plays an amnesiac man who slowly puts the pieces together from his past only to become hellbent on revenge. Bone-cracking, hyper-violent, and crackling with jaw-dropping, fist-to-face action, Headshot is like The Raid dialed up to 20.

 | Staff Writer

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