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Toronto International Film Festival Rankings

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

  1. 1. Belfast- Kenneth Branaghs' love for film is abundantly clearly throughout Belfast. The joy everytime Jude Hills' character Buddy was watching any films was radiant and something that any of us that fell in love with film in our childhoods can relate too. The black and white visuals are absolutely stunning, and the focal point being from the eyes of a child and his unending love for his home despite the tumultous backdrop of the time is something beautiful in its own way, as children we are blind towards the negative because of the love of family and friends that bonds us to our homes. It's for this reason that the crowd pleaser at TIFF is the rightful king of my 2021/2022 Toronto International Film Festival rankings. 97%

  2. The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain- What an unexpected surprise this was in all of the best ways. Having known not a single thing about the eccentric artist, I had not the slightest idea of what I was turning on that morning. What I did get was a tragic and heart string pulling story of a man that had so much go wrong in his own personal life, and was not understood by many at that time period- a time where mental health and illnesses weren't exactly fully understood. Director Will Sharpe is capable of navigating the audiences through this sadness and taking us on an emotional rollercoaster with moments of joy through Wains famous paintings of cats. The creative decisions won't work for everyone, but if you get locked into the story- you will appreciate the direction Sharpe is going for. 88%

  3. Silent Night- Camille Griffin takes us on the most bleak and depressing holiday season movie in a very long time, and you know what? It is bloody hilarious. Fans of dark comedies are in for a treat with this film about a group of friends celebrating the Christmas season while the impending doom of the end of the world crawls closer and closer to them. Its a delicious cocktail of dread and laughs as our characters unravel deep held secrets from one another and spiral minute by minute knowing their end is coming closer by the minute. Keira Knightley, Roman Griffin Davis, Matthew Goode, Sope Dirisu and Lily-Rose Depp all do heavy lifting and left me in a pile of emotions for their different characters and decisions. Important to note that the film was originally going to come out at an earlier point in the pandemic, so that the anti-vaxxers don't hop onto this one thinking the messaging is for them. 87%

  4. The Power of the Dog- It's been well over a week, going on two weeks, when I got the privilege of checking out Netflix's next awards contender. I stated in my Letterboxd review that this was a movie that with time I would likely get more appreciative of Jane Campions newest film. That guess turned out to be super accurate, because this dark and depressing story that focuses on toxic masculinity has grown on me more and more. Benedict Cumberbatch is transformative as this intense and almost terrifying representative of all things manly and rugged that were a symbolism of the time period. It's the intensity of the script, the beautiful cinematography, and the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Kodi McPhee-Smith which becomes stronger and stronger as the story is told that makes The Power of the Dog such a must see. 86%

  5. Montana Story- I've said it a handful of times even before I watched Montana Story.. Haley Lu Richardson deserves to be given roles to succeed and thrive. She is just as talented as her peers, yet the filmography is less award race-y- if i'm a filmmaker with an awards contender cooking up, she's the next darling actress I give my lead role to. Montana Story gives HLU her moment in the sun and she does not dabble it, her chemistry with Owen Teague playing siblings that return home in heartbreaking time is so good and both push each other to give some of their best performances. The story is familiar, but between it's beautiful Montana setting and the performances there is enough there to be locked in for the entire film. 82%

  6. The Eyes of Tammy Faye- What an absolute insane adventure that Michael Showalter and team takes us on. Having known very little about the insane personas that were Christian Televangelists- and more so huge personality eccentrics, I was going in blind in knowing what type of story would unfold in front of me. What it was, was the most insane story of conmen profiting using the television and donations under the guise of the lord to make their profits- the two most entertaining personalities being that of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker. Thats where this movie was at its strongest, letting Jessica Chastain unleash the battiest personality of all time as Tammy Faye- she disappears in the role and becomes the naive and often misused by her husband and peers Faye. Andrew Garfield should be in the Oscar Talk as of this moment as well, he's brilliant as the conman husband of Fayes, and, could easily rival for the biggest scumbag in cinema award for this year. Its a bit on the long side, and could've used some time shedding but overall its well worth that trip to the theatre. 78%

Belfast (2021)
Belfast (2021)

7. The Hill Where Lionesses Roar- One of the few foreign films I was able to catch digitally, its directed by the incredibly gifted Luana Bajrami, who some may recognize as Sophie from Portrait of a Lady on Fire, who makes her directorial debut. This movie out of the tiny country of Kosovo was once again something I had very few ideas what I was walking into when I decided for tickets to it- but what I did get was a brilliant telling of how friendship can help one another through the issues of ones life, hope, perseverance, and enjoyment of life while young. The movie takes a sharp turn into something straight out of the 2013 Sofia Coppola movie The Bling Ring, yet I loved Bajrami's story more- the characters reasons for justifying what they do is far more grounded, and each of our main three are far more likeable than the other. I wish the ending could've hit more as the character decisions their dampened my final thoughts on the film a bit. 76%

The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

8. The Humans- A play turned movie that I had a general understanding of the original source material, this for the big screen adaptation by its playwright Stephen Karam has a jam packed cast. Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, Jayne Houdyshell, and Amy Schumer, someone I know plenty on the internet have been tough on, all show up and dive into their characters each representing different members of a family who spend Thanksgiving at Feldstein and Yeun's apartment as the weather is miserable outside, and the tensions inside grow more and more with the time the family spends together. They're all unlikable for one reason or another, but these reasons are human they're human errors that they make and human behaviours that they display- so its okay for these characters to be unlikable. The apartment is creepy, things go bump around, but its the tension and the way they talk down to one another that feels like the true horror of their situation. I wanted to love this so much more, but between having a hard time with some of the echo's namely from Feldsteins character and the pacing I just couldn't find myself in the majority that enjoyed it- maybe on a second watch there will be as much love, as there is appreciation for Karams craft. 73%

9. Titane- admittedly I have yet to see Julia Ducournau's Raw but that is because I am not one for body horror, I've watched plenty of movies in my life- yet body horror to this day still gets me. So when I decided to brave my own internal fears to check out what everyone had hyped to this point as insane and must see- it took three pep talks and a shot to get myself to sit and do it. I am so glad I did, because this one is as insane as everyone has said. It juggles the bodily horror in a way that even I am able to stomach, while telling one of the craziest screenplays that I think I will ever see. Agathe Rousselle isn't going to have much awards hype, but she should because the character of Alexia did not need to say much of anything to be effective and hold the viewers attention on screen. 67%

10. Violet- The first movie I got to see for this years festival, Violet stars Olivia Munn and features Justin Theroux as the asshole voice inside her head. Justine Batemans feature length had one of the more important messages of the entire festival- what would happen if we stopped listening to that voice in our head that held us back for pursuing what we wanted, ironically in a way I can credit Bateman with this blog and attempt to join the film critic world because in a way it was inspirational in getting myself out of my comfort zone. So its kind of heartbreaking to have it so low, the ending just didn't work for me- the movie runs out of runway as it sprints through its storytelling within the final act at record breaking speed leaving the ending to always be disappointing regardless of what they chose to do. 64%

11. You Are Not My Mother- An Irish horror movie that is one part Irish folktale, and other part a look into mental illness, Theres so much to like here, the story itself is well written and it doesn't need to rely on jump scares to be effective. Though that's the thing I would've loved more scares, it focuses so much on its story that we don't consistently get enough moments of horror to digest and enjoy. The folktale isn't fully explained either, but if you're looking for a movie with a good original script, that doesn't rely on only jump scares- there is fun to be had with You Are Not My Mother. 53%

12. All My Puny Sorrows- The lone movie of the festival where I will have a tough time finding something to compliment it in regards too. Maybe its my own fault for lofting unrealistic expectations at it. They make a joke early on about melodrama, which ends up being ironic- because this movie is all melodrama from the moment we meet our characters to the moment the credits roll- we never get a moment to breathe, and never a quiet moment where the story is more hushed and tamed. The characters are essentially yelling monologues at one another throughout the run time, and the messaging is so on the nose that there's to nuance to the screenplay. 39%

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