TIFF 2019 Recap: My Birby Thoughts

With over 300 films showing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival spanning eleven days, it’s nearly impossible to get a chance to see every single film that sounds interesting. I was fortunate enough to get to twenty films over the nine days I was in Toronto, so here are my thoughts on the hits, the misses, and films that are carrying the most buzz heading into Oscar season

Films I missed

Here are a few notable films that are creating great word-of-mouth coming out of Toronto.
Marriage Story
Directed by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale), Marriage Story stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a divorced couple trying to navigate their new lives. Look for this film to be a major player for acting, directing, screenplay, and potentially best picture.
Pain and Glory
Heralded as the crowning achievement of Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar’s career, Pain and Glory stars Antonio Banderas as a film director who reflects on his life choices.
Renee Zellweger in Judy
Portraying Judy Garland in the last year of her career as a performer in London, Zellweger is garnering massive acclaim in a better than average film.
Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems
Another actor garnering plenty of hype is Adam Sandler’s turn as a New York jeweler in the latest film directed by the Safdie brothers (Good Time).

My Top 5

Honorable Mentions: All of these films I rated a 4/5 or higher but did not crack my top five: Abominable, Proxima, Waves, The Lighthouse, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Ford v Ferrari
5. Joker: Coming out of Venice with a massive hype machine and a golden lion statue under its belt, Joker was elevated by an interesting take on the source material and an amazing performance by Joaquin Phoenix (4.5/5).
4. Weathering with You: The follow-up feature to Your Name. for director Makoto Shinkai, Weathering with You may not be as great as Your Name., but it’s an amazing and visually stunning effort (4.6/5).
3. Knives Out: Rian Johnson has scrubbed of all the troll venom from The Last Jedi and created a funny, well-acted, and smartly written who-done-it crime film that avoids many of the tropes that typically sink a film in this subgenre (4.75/5).
2. Jojo Rabbit: The People’s Choice Award winner is a hilarious farce that also packs a strong emotional wallop. Roman Griffin Thomas’ performance as young Jojo is one of the best I’ve seen out of any child actor in years. Taiki Waititi, if he wasn’t already, has cemented his spot as one of the best filmmakers of this generation (4.9/5).
1. Parasite: The Palme D’Or winner at this Cannes film festival is as close to cinematic perfection as you probably can get. The strength of the direction, cinematography, screenplay, and performances from all involved will make this a front-runner for many major awards (5/5).

The Misfires

Not everything was as great as anticipated, so here are a few that I had higher expectations for that missed the mark.
The Goldfinch: The critic community skewered it, and audiences didn’t care to see it, this adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was 2.5 hours of time that eventually went nowhere.
Lucy in the Sky: After seeing the first trailer for this film I was all in. Natalie Portman as an astronaut who returns to space and is slowly loing her grip on reality sounds great, and Portman saved this from being a complete failure. The film took risks when they shouldn’t have and didn’t take risks when they should have.
Color Out of Space: I know there is an audience out there who are die-hards for both Crazy Nicolas Cage and H.P. Lovecraft. The marriage should have been there, but the story was aimless and the Nic Cage schtick wore brutally thin well before the third act began.

For all my thoughts on all things TIFF 2019, check out my previous reviews on this page or head to instagram.com/moviebirb for more. Feel free to comment below with the TIFF films you’re most excited to see, and as always, be civil đŸ™‚

Author: Sean Blanford

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