TIFF

For the fifth year in a row, I’ve compiled a special edition of the CAST Awards, just based on what people saw during the Toronto International Film Festival. Here are the CAST Top 10 based on the votes of 24 submitted ballots. Voters ranked up to 10 films on their ballot from top to bottom, with first choices receiving 10 points, second choices 9, etc. The Points column lists the total score for each film, Mentions indicates how many voters included it in their Top Ten, Average is the average point score, and Firsts shows how many voters chose it as their favourite TIFF film.

In the case of points ties, the film with the higher number of first-place votes is listed first, then by highest average score. Because our sample size is quite small, these “rankings” don’t actually mean much, but I thought it would give a good idea of what this particular group of festivalgoers enjoyed this year. I’m curious to see how many of these show up in our regular year-end CAST ballot and how they do.

Moonlight - Barry Jenkins
La La Land - Damien ChazelleToni Erdmann - Maren Ade
Manchester by the Sea - Kenneth LonerganPaterson - Jim JarmuschCertain Women - Kelly Reichardt
Colossal - Nacho VigalondoNocturnal Animals - Tom FordPersonal Shopper - Olivier AssayasThe Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki - Juho Kuosmanen

FILM TITLE
POINTS
MENTIONS
AVERAGE
FIRSTS
1. Moonlight 104 12 8.67 7
2. La La Land 75 9 8.33 4
3. Toni Erdmann 72 10 7.2 2
4.Manchester By The Sea 57 8 7.1 1
5. Paterson 37 5 7.4 0
6. Certain Women 37 6 6.2 9
7. Colossal 34 4 8.5 2
8. Nocturnal Animals 33 4 8.25 1
9. Personal Shopper 32 6 5.3 0
10. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki 31 4 7.8 0

Participants:

Here is a PDF (106K) with each person’s ballot and the full collated results, with a few more interesting stats included.

And for those still reading, here is my final TIFF CAST ballot. I saw a total of 12 films this year:

My TIFF CAST Ballot

  1. Moonlight
  2. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki
  3. The Giant
  4. Blue Jay
  5. Into the Inferno
  6. Planetarium
  7. Things to Come
  8. ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail
  9. Orphan
  10. Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee

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Poster for Things to Come

I’ve made no secret of my love for the films of Mia Hansen-Løve. She’s made some amazing coming-of-age stories that explore more than just the usual one or two emotions. Although I have yet to see her previous film Eden, I was excited to hear that her new one, Things to Come, will be screening at TIFF this year. Even more exciting is that she’s working with Isabelle Huppert, who just keeps getting better and better. In fact, during this morning’s first batch of announcements, I heard Huppert’s name three times, so it’s great that she’s working so much, and that almost guarantees that she’ll be in Toronto for a good part of the festival. And just for contrast, can you think of a North American female actor who, at the age of 63, still commands as much respect as Isabelle Huppert? Ah well, that’s why I love TIFF.

Still from Things to Come

Still from Things to Come

Huppert plays Nathalie, a professor of philosophy whose life takes a huge turn when, in quick succession, her mother dies and her husband leaves her. I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t resonate with the recent course of my own life. As she struggles with her newfound “freedom,” she must essentially pass through a period of self-examination and reinvent herself. I’m excited by the prospect of seeing an intelligent film about this sort of emotional and existential turmoil. I’m including an alternate poster that I like better below. I like the idea of the picture frame and of Nathalie looking off into the distance.

Alternate poster for Things to Come

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For the fourth year in a row, I’ve compiled a special edition of the CAST Awards, just based on what people saw during the Toronto International Film Festival. Here are the CAST Top 10 based on the votes of 29 submitted ballots. Voters ranked up to 10 films on their ballot from top to bottom, with first choices receiving 10 points, second choices 9, etc. The Points column lists the total score for each film, Mentions indicates how many voters included it in their Top Ten, Average is the average point score, and Firsts shows how many voters chose it as their favourite TIFF film.

In the case of points ties, the film with the higher number of first-place votes is listed first, then by highest average score. Because our sample size is quite small, these “rankings” don’t actually mean much, but I thought it would give a good idea of what this particular group of festivalgoers enjoyed this year. I’m curious to see how many of these show up in our regular year-end CAST ballot and how they do.

Anomalisa - Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson
Green Room - Jeremy SaulnierVictoria - Sebastian Schipper
Room - Lenny AbrahamsonThe Witch - Robert EggersMen & Chicken - Anders Thomas Jensen
Beasts of No Nation - Cary FukunagaLouder Than Bombs - Joachim TrierSicario - Denis VilleneuveSpotlight - Tom McCarthy

FILM TITLE
POINTS
MENTIONS
AVERAGE
FIRSTS
1. Anomalisa 106 15 7.07 4
2. Green Room 63 10 6.3 2
3. Victoria 59 9 6.56 2
4. Room 46 8 5.75 1
5. The Witch 42 8 5.25 0
6. Men & Chicken 37 5 7.4 1
7. Beasts of No Nation 37 5 7.4 0
8. Louder Than Bombs 37 5 7.4 0
9. Sicario 37 6 6.17 0
10. Spotlight 36 5 7.2 1

Participants:

Here is a PDF (95K) with each person’s ballot and the full collated results, with a few more interesting stats included.

And for those still reading, here is my final TIFF CAST ballot. I only saw 8 films and only 6 of those would qualify for my “Top Ten”:

My TIFF CAST Ballot

  1. Chevalier
  2. Louder Than Bombs
  3. The Witch
  4. Homesick
  5. Men & Chicken
  6. Kill Your Friends

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Chevalier (Poster)

Athina Rachel Tsangari produced several of Yorgos Lanthimos’ films, notably Dogtooth (2009) and Alps (2011), both of which I’ve seen and enjoyed. I missed her last feature Attenberg (2010), but it’s clear that she and Lanthimos share a certain absurd sensibility: they create their own worlds in which very particular rules apply. These rules, in fact, are often made up by their characters as a form of game-playing or a way to control other characters. Chevalier is no different.

A group of men, connected through family, work, or friendship, are enjoying a vacation together on a yacht in the Aegean Sea when they come up with an idea. A contest to determine who is the best of them all. The winner will wear a distinctive signet ring on his pinkie, but the competition will be fierce.

Chevalier (still)

Tsangari’s film is a hilarious sendup of male insecurity, vanity, and competitiveness. We’ll see aggression but only of the passive variety, as modern masculinity is put under the microscope. And watch for an amazing scene involving the assembly of IKEA furniture. This is satire of the highest quality, poking fun at the absurdities of “manhood” while still maintaining sympathy for its characters.

It’s notable that Tsangari’s co-writer is Efthymis Filippou, who also co-wrote all of Lanthimos’ recent films, including The Lobster, which is also playing in this year’s TIFF lineup. Filippou has a rather interesting web page.

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Brooklyn (Poster)

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a TIFF preview, and I don’t know how many of these I’ll be able to squeeze in before the festival starts, but this morning’s press conference contained some exciting stuff and I’d like to stir up a little excitement (even if just for myself) ahead of September.

One unusual announcement was the appearance of John Crowley’s Brooklyn which premiered at Sundance way back at the beginning of the year. It looked familiar because, of course, I was at Sundance but I never got to see it. Lots to love in the trailer that was shown. It’s the story of an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) who arrives in New York in the 1950s, falls in love, and then goes back to Ireland for a funeral, and falls in love again. Based on a novel by Colm Tóibín, and with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, it’s sure to have a cracking script. And the casting is great, too. Ronan impresses in everything she’s in, but this also features Domhnall Gleason, Jim Broadbent, and Julie Walters.

Still from Brooklyn

I was actually fortunate enough to meet Saoirse Ronan backstage in 2013. I was working as a venue liaison at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (look for me there again this year!) and she was here with How I Live Now. She impressed me with her professionalism and low-maintenance style (no heels!), and we chatted about Ireland. I mentioned I was born in Dublin and she wanted to know in what neighbourhood. She introduced me to her father and uncle, who were traveling with her, and we had a really nice talk. Not only is she a great actor, but she has no celebrity ego at all. What I just discovered is that she was actually born in New York City to Irish parents, who took her back to Ireland when she was three years old. So this film must have a special resonance for her and her family.

I’m hopeful this will screen at my venue, so I can meet her again, but regardless, I’m going to add Brooklyn to my list of must-sees at this year’s TIFF.

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