A brief interlude... Top picks from TIFF18
In a brief tangent from the more personal, and occasionally heavy, blogposts to date, I thought I’d skip back a few weeks to the Toronto International Film Festival and highlight my top picks from TIFF18. Partly, to break things up a bit; partly, because TIFF ended nearly a month ago and I haven’t talked about it at all; and partly, because it’s pretty late on the night I should post this and I’m very aware that I have to be up in six-odd hours to head to set for the day.
Reading that paragraph back, I’m taken by how surreal my life is these days. But, that’s a post for another day.
So, in no particular order…
Let’s start with the obvious first. If you’re outside of the film circuit, the chances are you haven’t heard of Green Book yet – but, trust me, you’re about to hear about it constantly. Green Book is this year’s Three Billboards, the year before’s Moonlight, a visually stunning recounting of the true story of an Italian-American hired to drive an African American pianist on a tour through the deep south in the 1960s. Striking that perfect balance between comedic and heart-wrenching, with spot-on performances all round, and a soundtrack that’ll have the nostalgic (like myself) within the first ten minutes, Green Book was the unexpected stand-out for TIFF18, winning the People’s Choice Award. It was not a film that was on my radar at all pre-festival and slowly during the festival, I began to hear more and more about it – everyone who saw it seemed to love it, seemed to be unable even to describe it. From the description and what I’d heard, what I actually saw on screen was not what I expected, and I was continuously surprised and delighted throughout the film. No matter your tastes, this is a must-see.
The Hummingbird Project
Another film I’d heard nothing about prior to the festival and one I found entirely by chance, in a what film can I fit in this morning? kind of way. Two cousins working on Wall Street hatch up a plan to build a pipeline from Kansas to New York to transfer stock prices faster than anyone else. It’s The Big Short that tackles the number-side a little better and also holds a human aspect that the predecessor lacked. Jesse Eisenberg is, as usual, Jesse Eisenberg (but he does it so well) while Alexander Skårsgard gives, arguably, the best performance of his career so far.
The Hate U Give
Another obvious choice although this was an eagerly anticipated film adaption of the incredible YA novel by Angie Thomas. With any adaptation, the worry is whether it will live up to the book and The Hate U Give does and more – having read the book before, I think the film is, in fact, even more powerful. Amandla Stenberg gives a breathtaking performance in the lead role that deftly tackles issues such as police brutality in America today and cultural appropriation among teens. This film pulls no punches, nor should it. Forget the YA stamp, this film (and its original book) are a must for all audiences.
I’ll also give an honourable mention to Destroyer which was a highlight of the festival for me, if not entirely for the film, but for the opportunity to listen to one of my absolute favourite actors, Sebastian Stan, talk about the film and a little of his career. (I also walked past him in a hallway and then proceeded to text my friends back home in very inarticulate capital letters but that’s not a story for here).
And, as for those I missed?
First Man – wasn’t a priority for me at TIFF, as I knew a wide release was imminent within a month, but Ryan Gosling plus space? It’s already a winner for me.
Hotel Mumbai – for various reasons, I saw about twenty minutes from near the start of this film and no more but what I saw was fantastic, and I eagerly anticipate the day I can get around to the other eighty-odd. I had a vague plan to rush line it nearer the end of the festival but then I ended up on a patio on the west side drinking wine, so… That was that.
Beautiful Boy – I did attempt to rush line this, but so did a few dozen Timothée Chalamet fans. Go figure.
A Million Little Pieces – had every intention to go but woke up at 7am and couldn’t face a film about a drug addict so early in the day
Papi Chulo – again, early morning, day after aforementioned wine… Oops.
For reference, a complete list of the films I saw:
Woman at War
The Hummingbird Project
The Hate U Give
The Wedding Guest