2013 Toronto International Film Festival Wrap-Up and Top 10!
Itís hard to believe but the Toronto International Film Festival has already come and gone. This year marked my fifth trip in a row to TIFF, and I gotta say this may well have been the best year ever for the festival. The first half of it was literally packed with gem after gem, and if you read my reviews, youíll notice I was giving out tons of 8ís, and 9ís, with even a 10 for good measure.
About halfway through, the flow of amazing movies started to finally give way, but while I caught a few dogs like THIRD PERSON and DEVILíS KNOT, they were the exceptions, not the rule. Overall it was an incredible year, and just possibly the best edition of any film festival Iíve ever attended.
As such, Iíve compiled a top 10 list of my favorite films, but even besides those, there were still plenty of good to great films. Below Iíve posted links to all thirty-one of my reviews (some of which were horror films posted on Arrow in the head, btw). Hopefully youíll discover some gems in here. And hereís hoping I get to attend year six next year! PS: Once in the gallery, click on the titles if you want to read my full review.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY,
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY,
HOW I LIVE NOW,
UNDER THE SKIN,
CAN A SONG SAVE YOUR LIFE?,
THE F- WORD,
MAN OF TAI CHI,
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB,
12 YEARS A SLAVE,
THE FIFTH ESTATE,
THE GREEN INFERNO,
LIFE OF CRIME
For me, the prison pic STARRED UP was the big surprise of the festival. I wasn't expecting anything from this other than maybe a solid melodrama, but what I got instead was the best prison movie since A PROPHET. Jack O'Connell really establishes himself as the next big-time tough guy actor, with an iconic performance as a nineteen-year-old prisoner, thrown to the wolves when he's transferred to a super-max prison, which just happens to be ruled by his inmate father (Ben Mendelsohn).
Jason Bateman both directed and stars in BAD WORDS, which not surprisingly is the best big-screen vehicle of his career. If you're more of an ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fan than an IDENTITY THEFT one, this should be right up your alley. It's a nasty little R-rated romp, and absolutely hilarious. Focus Features spent a pretty penny on this, so you can be sure it'll get a good mainstream release.
Ron Howard delivers his best film in years with RUSH, his thrilling F1 saga detailing the rivalry between drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt. Chris Hemsworth is great, but the real standout is Daniel Bruhl as the complicated Lauda, who ends up paying a high price for his ego, and emerges a hero. This is one hell of a fun film, and another one that's just about to come out.
John Carney's follow-up to ONCE is like the polished, A-List upgrade of that formerly humble film. While I still prefer ONCE, CAN A SONG is still a lovely, heart-warming film, with superb acting from Keira Knightley (who sings! well!) and Mark Ruffalo. The Weinstein Co spent a ton of money acquiring this, so expect it to get a major release sometime this spring or summer.
Nicolas Cage comes back with a vengeance in the title role in JOE, David Gordon Green's latest film, and his best since SNOW ANGELS. I'd wager that this is Cage's best performance since at least
BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS, or maybe THE WEATHER MAN. It's the kind of acting job we all hoped he still had in him, and it proves the Oscar-winner from LEAVING LAS VEGAS hasn't gone anywhere.
Richard Shepard's DOM HEMINGWAY is a kind-of spiritual sequel to his underrated classic THE MATADOR. Jude Law gets the part of his life as the titular gangster. Like Pierce Brosnan in THE MATADOR, he gets to take the piss out of his own posh image, and seems to have a blast doing so. I really can't wait until people get a chance to check this out for themselves. I think it could become a cult classic.
By now we all know about Matthew McConaughey's astounding weight loss to play an AIDS patient in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. Granted, his transformation is startling, but his performance goes beyond being merely physical. To me, it completes his transition from Hollywood hunk, to legit acting heavyweight, and it's maybe the best acting he's ever done. I'd be shocked if McConaughey and scene-stealer Jared Leto don't get Oscar nominations.
More than anything else that played this year's TIFF, GRAVITY was a "movie-movie". By this I mean it's a visceral cinematic experience unlike any other, that's probably as close as 99.9% of us will ever get to going in space. Make sure to see this one on IMAX and in 3D. It absolutely needs to be seen that way, and it's without a doubt the roller coaster-ride tent-pole of the year.
Steve McQueen's follow-up to HUNGER and SHAME deservedly won the People's Choice Award at TIFF this year, and given that this award typically anoints future Oscar hopefuls, I think it's safe to say 12 YEARS is a movie that will stay on our radars for months to come. It's pretty much a masterpiece, and arguably the finest film ever made about slavery. I'd be shocked it this doesn't end up winning Best Picture.
I was all over Denis Villeneuve's PRISONERS at this year's edition of TIFF. Not only was I lucky enough to catch it as my first movie, but I also got to participate in the junket, which was a thrill. This one opens tomorrow, so you can finally see for yourselves whether or not my 10/10 score was right-on. I stand by it, as PRISONERS really shook me up in a way no other TIFF film managed (although plenty came close).