TIFF 2017 Post-Festival Recommendationsby Col Needham | created - 2 months ago | updated - 2 months ago | Public
This is a repeat of last year's experiment to try and capture some of the buzz of TIFF 2017 in an IMDb list of recommendations through the lens of my tastes; I did not see everything listed here, but I have now seen 45 of the 256 features in the program (with 17 more queued up for The London Film Festival). I also talked to many people in screenings about what they liked.
I will start with The Shape of Water which is my favourite movie of 2017 and then everything else is in alphabetical order as it is too hard to rank this many excellent movies. All of these are worth taking the time to see.
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1. The Shape of Water (2017)
R | 123 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
In a 1960s research facility, a mute janitor forms a relationship with an aquatic creature.
Votes: 4,025 | Gross: $1.50M
I did something which I have never done before in my life – I watched a movie twice at the same film festival. I fell completely in love with this movie after a press screening, so much so that when I found out it was playing on closing night at The Elgin Theatre in Toronto, which is the location of a few scenes in the movie, I just had to see it again.
The second viewing is one of my best ever screening experiences, and the whole audience erupted into applause in one particular scene when they realised we were sitting in one of the locations up on the screen in front of us. I do not just love this film, I am actually in love with this film right now. It is everything – the film is dripping in references to other films and the love of cinema itself; the characters; the script; the set design; the music; the effects; the world which it creates; the performances (Sally Hawkins for best actress / Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress); everything -- it is near perfect IMHO. The film is already somewhere in my top 25 movies of all-time.
2. Beast (III) (2017)
107 min | Drama
A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.
Jessie Buckley is one to watch in this intriguing mystery / thriller which is also playing at The London Film Festival. Jessie came to our TIFF cocktail event and I did not even recognize her when I saw the film a few days later.
3. Borg McEnroe (2017)
107 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
The story of the 1980s tennis rivalry between the placid Björn Borg and the volatile John McEnroe.
The psychology of tennis (and perhaps competitive sport in general) set against the backdrop of a famous showdown. Two perfectly cast leads, including IMDb STARmeter "breakout star" award winner, Sverrir Gudnason, see also http://www.imdb.com/list/ls020486567/videoplayer/vi3070998809
4. Bodied (2017)
120 min | Comedy, Drama
A progressive graduate student finds success and sparks outrage when his interest in battle rap as a thesis subject becomes a competitive obsession.
Winner of the Midnight Madness People's Choice Award. I was not able to catch this so hoping someone buys it for distribution soon.
5. 120 battements par minute (2017)
140 min | Drama
Members of the advocacy group ACT UP Paris demand action by the government and pharmaceutical companies to combat the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s.
Votes: 2,833 | Gross: $0.09M
We first saw this at Cannes where it was my wife's favourite film of the festival. It is not always an easy watch as the audience feels the guilt of how people were so badly treated (with fatal consequences) in such recent memory.
6. Brad's Status (2017)
R | 102 min | Comedy, Drama, Music
A father takes his son to tour colleges on the East Coast and meets up with an old friend who makes him feel inferior about his life's choices.
Votes: 2,147 | Gross: $2.13M
The ultimate college visit movie and one where the kid would do much better without the parent. There's a nice charm to how Ben Stiller plays the frustratingly annoying title character.
7. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
Not Rated | 132 min | Crime, Drama
A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.
Gruesome "fun" from the writer/director behind Bone Tomahawk. You have been warned. This was also the second runner-up in the Midnight Madness People's Choice Award.
8. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
R | 132 min | Drama, Romance
In Northern Italy in 1983, seventeen year-old Elio begins a relationship with visiting Oliver, his father's research assistant, with whom he bonds over his emerging sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the beguiling Italian landscape.
Votes: 6,494 | Gross: $1.37M
This has the highest MetaCritic score of anything at the festival and it was the second runner-up to the Grolsch People's Choice Award. I have my London Film Festival tickets booked for this one.
9. Chappaquiddick (2017)
PG-13 | 107 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
Ted Kennedy's life and political career become derailed in the aftermath of a fatal car accident in 1969 that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.
10. The Children Act (2017)
105 min | Drama
As her marriage to Jack (Stanley Tucci) founders, eminent High Court judge Fiona Maye (Emma Thompson) has a life-changing decision to make at work - should she force a teenage boy, Adam (... See full summary »
11. The Current War (2017)
105 min | Biography, Drama, History
The dramatic story of the cutthroat race between electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse to determine whose electrical system would power the modern world.
Some of the things we take for granted today, such as the supply of electricity, were once fought over in more ways than you could imagine. Michael Shannon gives another stand-out performance in an already stellar cast with spectacular direction from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. This would make a great pairing with The Prestige given the presence of Nikola Tesla in both stories.
12. Dark River (2017)
89 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Following the death of her father, Alice (Ruth Wilson) returns to her home village for the first time in 15 years, to claim the tenancy to the family farm she believes is rightfully hers.
13. Darkest Hour (2017)
PG-13 | 125 min | Drama, War
During the early days of World War II, the fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler, or fight on against incredible odds.
Votes: 2,530 | Gross: $1.27M
14. The Death of Stalin (2017)
R | 106 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
Follows the Soviet dictator's last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death.
Scheduling kept me away from this one at TIFF itself, but not to worry as it opens across the UK in a few weeks. I heard crazy good things about this one.
15. The Escape (II) (2017)
105 min | Drama
An ordinary woman makes an extraordinary decision which will change her life forever.
16. Una Mujer Fantástica (2017)
R | 104 min | Drama
Marina, a waitress who moonlights as a nightclub singer, is bowled over by the death of her older boyfriend.
Another film with a high-score from MetaCritic which I have saved to watch at The London Film Festival.
17. The Disaster Artist (2017)
R | 104 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.
Votes: 10,725 | Gross: $8.55M
I had watched The Room the week before in preparation for this, but it turns out not to have been necessary. This film should work equally well whether you have seen it or not. Another too-fantastic-to-be-true movie at TIFF. Please cheer at the mention of IMDb by Dave Franco's character in the dialogue. This also has the best end credits sequence of the festival with side-by-side comparisons of scenes from the original movie vs. this one.
18. Faces Places (2017)
PG | 89 min | Documentary
Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.
Votes: 993 | Gross: $0.56M
Completely charming French documentary by Agnès Varda. << C'est très bien, ça >>
19. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)
R | 105 min | Biography, Drama, Romance
A romance sparks between a young actor and a Hollywood leading lady.
20. The Florida Project (2017)
R | 111 min | Drama
Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
Votes: 5,981 | Gross: $5.03M
21. Foxtrot (II) (2017)
R | 108 min | Drama
A troubled family face the facts when something goes terribly wrong at their son's desolate military post.
Several of my local Toronto friends recommended this one. Shortly after TIFF it was selected as the Best Foreign Film entry by Israel for the next Oscars.
22. Happy End (2017)
R | 107 min | Drama
A drama about a family set in Calais with the European refugee crisis as the backdrop.
I saw this truly mad and appropriately named (in a Haneke way) film at Cannes.
23. Hostiles (2017)
R | 133 min | Adventure, Drama, Western
In 1892, a legendary Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory.
There's a new classic western in the making here with echoes of Cheyenne Autumn and many fine performances.
24. I Kill Giants (2017)
104 min | Drama, Fantasy, Thriller
Barbara Thorson struggles through life by escaping into a fantasy life of magic and monsters.
25. I, Tonya (2017)
R | 119 min | Biography, Drama, Sport
Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but her future in the activity is thrown into doubt when her ex-husband intervenes.
Votes: 1,169 | Gross: $0.26M
You simply cannot make up this stuff. If the screenplay had been submitted as a work of fiction, people would complain that it was too fantastic to be believed. It actually happened. Special shout out to Allison Janney as LaVona Golden who could run off with more than a few supporting actress trophies come awards season.
26. Aus dem Nichts (2017)
R | 106 min | Crime, Drama
Katja's life collapses after the death of her husband and son in a bomb attack. After a time of mourning and injustice, Katja seeks revenge.
A catch-up from Cannes where Diane Kruger deservedly won the best actress award for the film. A thought-provoking drama. My first film of the festival in Toronto this year.
27. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
R | 121 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.
Votes: 12,141 | Gross: $2.25M
To say anything about the plot of this movie would be a crime, but what would be the appropriate punishment?
28. Kodachrome (2017)
Set during the final days of the admired photo development system known as Kodachrome, a father and son hit the road in order to reach the Kansas photo lab before it closes its doors for good.
Elizabeth Olsen shines, as always, in this touching drama about love, family and nostalgia.
29. Lady Bird (2017)
R | 94 min | Comedy, Drama
In the early 2000s, an artistically-inclined seventeen year-old comes of age in Sacramento, California.
Votes: 9,776 | Gross: $22.62M
30. Loveless (2017)
R | 127 min | Drama
A couple going through a divorce must team up to find their son who has disappeared during one of their bitter arguments.
Bleak and absorbing drama from Russia. Another Cannes favourite.
31. Molly's Game (2017)
R | 140 min | Biography, Drama
The true story of Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target.
32. Mudbound (2017)
R | 134 min | Drama
Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.
Another one which I saved to watch at The London Film Festival.
33. On Chesil Beach (2017)
105 min | Drama
A drama set in the early 1960s and centered on a young couple on their honeymoon.
Yet another exquisite performance by super-talented Saoirse Ronan with exceptional cinematography by Sean Bobbitt (including a shot which someone at the Q&A accurately described with "as nifty a piece of cinematography as you are ever likely to see in a movie"). This also wins my award for the best intro at a TIFF public screening this year: Cameron Bailey confessed that 10 years ago he and his wife took the novel on honeymoon without knowing its contents! There's an Ian McEwan provided bonus for fans of the book, but I am not saying what it is to avoid spoilers.
34. Outside In (2017)
109 min | Drama
An ex-con struggling to readjust to life in his small town forms an intense bond with his former high-school teacher.
35. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
R | 108 min | Biography, Drama
The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, and his polyamorous relationship with his wife and his mistress who would inspire his creation of the superheroine, Wonder Woman.
Votes: 1,966 | Gross: $1.58M
The second of three Wonder Woman movies in 2017; this one takes a look behind-the-scenes in the form of the story of her creator.
36. The Rider (2017)
R | 104 min | Drama
After suffering a near fatal head injury, a young cowboy undertakes a search for new identity and what it means to be a man in the heartland of America.
I am hoping to see this at The London Film Festival. Plenty of buzz around this as Chloé Zhao's second feature.
37. The Square (2017)
R | 142 min | Comedy, Drama
The Square is a poignant satirical drama reflecting our times - about the sense of community, moral courage and the affluent person's need for egocentricity in an increasingly uncertain world.
Votes: 9,739 | Gross: $1.05M
One of my favourites from Cannes, apparently slightly edited in a new version for TIFF. A well deserved Palme d'Or win, and a good chance of winning the Best Foreign Film Oscar next year as Sweden's entry.
38. Stronger (I) (2017)
R | 119 min | Biography, Drama
Stronger is the inspiring real life story of Jeff Bauman, an ordinary man who captured the hearts of his city and the world to become a symbol of hope after surviving the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Votes: 6,402 | Gross: $4.21M
Great buzz around this one and featuring Tatiana Maslany who also won an IMDb STARmeter "fan favourite" award at the festival, see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3881784/videoplayer/vi2383132953. I first met her five years ago when I presented to the TIFF Rising Stars, of which she was one, on using IMDb to assist their careers. I have saved this for a screening at The London Film Festival.
39. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
R | 115 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A mother personally challenges the local authorities to solve her daughter's murder when they fail to catch the culprit.
Votes: 11,114 | Gross: $18.63M
I am saving this for The London Film Festival, however, several people told me it was their favourite film of 2017, and the TIFF audience clearly loved it too since won the Grolsch People's Choice Award. It was an honour to present Sam Rockwell with an IMDb STARmeter fan favorite award at the festival too: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls020486567/videoplayer/vi2769074457
40. Unicorn Store (2017)
92 min | Comedy
A woman named Kit receives a mysterious invitation that would fulfill her childhood dreams.
There's real movie magic in this fantastic (in the true sense of the word) tale from its star and first time director, Brie Larson, who confirms she is a talent to watch both behind and in front of the camera. The Friday evening audience at The Ryerson really engaged with the film, and it's the kind of storytelling which has you grinning from ear to ear from the start to the finish. There's a lovely IMDb customer review at http://www.imdb.com/user/ur9723452/ which does it more justice than I can do here.
41. The Upside (2017)
118 min | Comedy, Drama
A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy paraplegic and an unemployed man with a criminal record who's hired to help him.
42. Victoria & Abdul (2017)
PG-13 | 111 min | Biography, Drama, History
Queen Victoria strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young Indian clerk named Abdul Karim.
Votes: 7,558 | Gross: $22.14M
We attended the UK premiere the night before I flew to Toronto and I see the reception at TIFF was just as strong as in the UK. The cast are fabulous in this well-written and entertaining drama with many both funny and touching moments. Judi Dench and Ali Fazal are excellent as the two titular characters.
43. Woman Walks Ahead (2017)
101 min | Biography, Drama, History
Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples' struggle over the rights to their land.