TIFF 2017 Wrap-Up

After a summer that many pundits considered one of the best in years (I may disagree) and an especially strong line-up in Venice, the 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival burst onto the scene with typical flair and a host of red carpets. In line with an increasing trend away from the fall festival circuit, a number of high-profile films skipped the big 3 and will be released at the New York Film Festival (hello, Last Flag Flying from Richard Linklater and Wonder Wheel from Woody Allen) or held until the Christmas season, including Paul Thomas Anderson’s tentatively-titled Phantom Thread and The Post, Steven Spielberg’s anticipated take on the Pentagon Papers.

Even taking into account the widely-publicized 20% reduction in the number of films screening at TIFF, the scope and variety of projects available to attendees was impressive. And in contrast to last year, when Sundance breakout The Birth of a Nation was obliterated by the time it reached the eastern shores, Sundance breakouts Call Me by Your Name and Mudbound enjoyed successful expanded roll-outs, with the former landing second runner-up of TIFF’s People’s Choice Award. The winner, which bodes well for Oscars next year, was Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, which along with The Shape of Water, Lady Bird, and I, Tonya, found no shortage of passionate supporters.

It was a festival boasting so many memorable supporting turns that it was easy to get lost, with expected stalwarts (Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project, Melissa Leo in Novitiate) and surprising “newcomers” (Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird, Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) dazzling audiences and critics alike. If lead performances were somewhat thinner, there was quality to be found in out-of-the-box work from Ethan Hawke, Steve Buscemi, and Colin Farrell and standout work from Lior Ashkenazi and Maryana Spivak.

TIFF also showcased several films concentrated on religious themes (the aforementioned Novitiate and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, as well as Disobedience and Thelma), and several that truly pushed the envelope in new ways: Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin, and James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, among others.

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A & S TIFF Rankings

  1. Foxtrot (3.5/4)
  2. Loveless (3.5/4)
  3. The Rider (3.5/4)
  4. The Florida Project (3.5/4)
  5. Zama (3.5/4)
  6. Faces Places (3.5/4)
  7. The Other Side of Hope (3.5/4)
  8. First Reformed (3.5/4)
  9. The Death of Stalin (3.5/4)
  10. Sweet Country (3/4)
  11. Lady Bird (3/4)
  12. Call Me by Your Name (3/4)
  13. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (3/4)
  14. The Guardians (3/4)
  15. Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2.5/4)
  16. The Disaster Artist (2.5/4)
  17. A Fantastic Woman (2.5/4)
  18. Disobedience (2.5/4)
  19. The Shape of Water (2.5/4)
  20. Novitiate (2.5/4)
  21. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2.5/4)
  22. Stronger (2.5/4)
  23. Thelma (2.5/4)
  24. Mudbound (2.5/4)
  25. Downsizing (2/4)
  26. Darkest Hour (2/4)
  27. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2/4)

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A & S TIFF Awards

Picture: Eitan Mansuri, “Foxtrot” (runners-up: Mollye Asher, Sacha Ben Harroche & Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”; Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Duncan, Alex Saks, Francesca Silvestri & Shih-Ching Tsou, “The Florida Project”)

Director: Andrey Zvyagintsev, “Loveless” (runners-up: Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”; Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”)

Lead Male Performance: Lior Ashkenazi, “Foxtrot” (runners-up: Aleksey Rozin, “Loveless”; Sherwan Haji, “The Other Side of Hope”)

Lead Female Performance: Maryana Spivak, “Loveless (runner-up: Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”)

Supporting Performance: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project” (runners-up: Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”; Armie Hammer, “Call Me by Your Name”)

Screenplay: Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” (runners-up: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin & Peter Fellows, “The Death of Stalin”; Andrey Zvyagintsev & Oleg Negin, “Loveless”)

Breakout Performance: Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project” (runners-up: Brady Jandreau, “The Rider”; Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”)

Spotlight Award: Samuel Maos, “Foxtrot” and Chloé Zhao, “The Rider” (tie) (runners-up: Agnès Varda, “Faces Places”; Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”; Lucrecia Martel, “Zama”)

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