Our 10 Favorite movies from TIFF 2019

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

2019 marked my eleventh year covering TIFF for JoBlo.com. It’s humbling to think how much has changed over the last decade plus, both in the industry and in the festival itself. I remember that some of the movies still used to be shown on 35mm back in the day, and when one of the big premieres, UP IN THE AIR was shown digitally, there were “oooohs” and “ahhhs” in the audience. I also remember many more theaters being open, several of which have, sadly closed down.

Back then, streaming meant virtually nothing, and many mini-majors that were active back then have shuttered. Yet, one thing that’s remained consistent has been the amazing selection of movies, and 2019 proved to be one heck of a year. Again, as in previous years, the good far outweighed the bad, and some of the ones I saw could go all the way during awards season. Check out my top 10 list and for all my reviews, click the link below!

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“Every film festival, there’s one movie that just gets all up in your guts and won’t let go. I remember once it was WHIPLASH, another time it was DRIVE and this year, by the end of its bravura opening shot, I knew WAVES was gonna be the one.”

Marriage Story

“One of the good things about MARRIAGE STORY being a Netflix film is that it’ll play to a potentially huge audience, meaning more people than will have come out to see it in theatres will give it a chance on streaming, helping its chances of becoming a real benchmark film about divorce. I can only imagine how many people will be able to relate deeply to its depiction of a marriage going down the tubes, and surely it’s one of the best films I’ve seen at TIFF so far this year.”

Uncut Gems

“Like GOOD TIME, UNCUT GEMS feels like the work of totally uncompromising artists, with crazy shifts in tone, ranging from near slapstick comedy to brutal explosions of violence, that add to the chaos. It shouldn’t work – but it does and brilliantly. This is another kickass piece of work from A24, who further their reputation as the coolest studio in the biz, and utterly revitalizes Sandler’s career – who I hope pursues more roles like this.”


“It’s edgy and thoroughly unpredictable, with Song Kang-ho delivering another towering performance that’s a sharp contrast from the lovable dolt he seems to initially be playing. We’re encouraged to laugh at their poverty early on, making the audience, in a way, culpable for what comes next, as to Bong Joon-ho, it’s obvious there’s nothing funny about poverty or elitism. This is a parable for our time, but beyond that, it’s also just a tremendously entertaining film.”


“People are not ready for JOKER. Everyone’s talking about this as a supervillain origin story, but that doesn’t do it justice, with this as unsettling a portrait of madness as any I’ve seen. It’s an ugly uncompromising R-rated psychological thriller that will leave many rattled and prove to be among the most provocative movies of the year. Of course, it’s a must-see.”

Knives Out

“KNIVES OUT is a blast right from the first frame, giving Craig what could be the next great franchise character for him to play in a whole series of movies, were this to make enough money to warrant it. Hopefully, it does, because the world needs more Benoit Blancs.”

The Friend

“A good tear-jerker is tough to pull off. For every ABOUT TIME or MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, there’s a half-dozen bad examples like LIFE ITSELF, as the tendency in these movies is to get mawkish and overly sentimental. At the same time, you don’t want to be strident about situations that real people deal with every day, such as terminal illness, so it takes a good balance. Add THE FRIEND to that preciously short list of good, solid tear-jerkers, with this a delicately crafted tale of love and loss that, at times, is like a masterclass in how to do these movies just right.”

Dolemite is My Name

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME marks Eddie Murphy’s first film since the largely unseen MR. CHURCH in 2016, and easily his most prominent film in almost a decade. Since at least the mid-nineties, he’s mostly focused on family films, but this is his long-awaited return to the kind of edgy, R-rated humor that made him a star, and it’s a welcome one at that.”

Ford V Ferrari

“FORD V FERRARI is an old fashioned star vehicle/ two-hander for Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Arguably the most purely entertaining film either has done in years, this lavish, character-driven tentpole should quickly become a favorite of racing fans, although a love of the sport certainly isn’t a prerequisite for maximum enjoyment here.|


“In some ways reminiscent of the work of Shane Carruth, SYNCHRONIC is a character-based genre flick that assumes a certain degree of sophistication from its audience. The first act will be make or break for some, as it’s not the type of film one can immediately get a handle on, but the pay-off is spectacular, with it carrying some legitimate emotional weight which left a lump in my throat at more than a few points along the way.”

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.