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Films to see (and avoid) from TIFF18


Courtesy of TIFF


For me, the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival has come to a close. For those still racing to screenings and striving to catch glimpses of stars, it runs through September 16. There is plenty still to be screened, and some biggies I simply could not catch, including Neil Armstrong biopic First Man and Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix-bound Roma.


Even so, I’m quite pleased with the films I was able to catch. Here’s my ranking of the twenty films I saw at #TIFF18.


20. Her Smell: The worst entry I saw at the festival was this howlingly unpersuasive story of a female rock star (Elisabeth Moss).


19. Tell It to the Bees: Fine performances from Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger can’t keep the fifties-set Bees from being a melodramatic disappointment.


18. Mouthpiece: A writer must plan for her mother’s funeral in this small-scale, so-so Canadian feature.


17. Teen Spirit: Actor Max Minghella directed this enjoyable, rather dorky tale of a teeanger (Elle Fanning) on a quest for pop music stardom.


16. Freaks: This sci-fi flick with Emile Hirsch and Bruce Dern was one of TIFF18’s most pleasant surprises.


15. The Front Runner: The Gary Hart story is brought to the screen in entertaining if unexceptional fashion by Jason Reitman and a cast led by Hugh Jackman.


14. Halloween: John Carpenter’s classic gets a fun sequel – just forget the others – and a return from Jamie Lee Curtis.


13. Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy: Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern shine as the body and mind, respectively, of nonexistent author JT LeRoy.


12. Museo: Two friends plan a daring museum heist; Gael García Bernal stars in this gripping Mexican entry.


11. Vox Lux: Natalie Portman stars in an overwrought but ever-watchable pop music film. The first half outshines the second.


10. Destroyer: Nicole Kidman is bruised and bruising in Karyn Kusama’s dour crime drama.


9. Nonfiction: Olivier Assayas explores the affairs and careers of a group of acquaintances with his usual wit and charm.


8. In Fabric: Oh my. Peter Strickland follows up The Duke of Burgundy with a haunted dress and some unforgettable, horrific imagery.


7. Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant should net Oscar nominations as an author turned forger and her accomplice.


6. Mid90s: Jonah Hill, director! The Superbad star has crafted a hilarious, warm-hearted tale of a 1990s teenager and his skateboarding friends.


5. Burning: This blistering Tom Ripley-esque thriller is directed by Poetry’s Lee Chang-dong and based on a story by Haruki Murakami.


4. Widows: Steve McQueen follows up 12 Years a Slave with a pulse-pounding crime drama starring Viola Davis and Liam Neeson.


3. Shoplifters: Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Cannes-winning drama about a family of shoplifters is his best film to date.


2. A Star is Born: Write it down: Your Oscar winner for Best Picture will be Star, and this remake could also earn wins for Bradley Cooper (as a director and an actor) and Lady Gaga. It’s that strong.


1. If Beale Street Could Talk: Barry Jenkins’s James Baldwin adaptation is tender, painful love story that equals his great Moonlight. It was the best film at TIFF, and will go down as one of the year’s finest.


Watch for more from me on TIFF18 in the November Spree.


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