With over 200 titles navigating the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is daunting at the best of times, and trying to find the true gems among the vast selection is never an easy trick.
I’ve already talked about the big titles including People’s Choice Winners The Fabelmans, Women Talking and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, as well as several of the Cannes and Sundance titles that finally made a splash here at home.
Beyond the titles getting all the (justifiable) attention there are a slew that are definitely worth your time, and I encourage you to keep these as a kind of “playlist” for the next weeks and months as your chance to see them post-fest occurs.
Here are some of the best films to play TIFF 2022 that you may have missed.
This rumination on brotherhood, claustrophobia and the Jurassic Park-ethos of nature “finding a way” was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the high-concept hijinks, as well as the committed performances by Mark Duplass and the ever sterling Sterling K. Brown, along with fine direction by Mel Eslyn.
Albert Shim’s Platform Jury Award-Winning film is a well told story of the Korean-Canadian experience, filled with subtle details, emotional richness and powerful performances. Comparisons to the sublime Minari will be inevitable, but this piece very much sets its own ground rules and speaks to the emergence of a significant Canadian talent.
All Quiet on the Western Front
Recently announced as Germany’s contender for this year’s Best International Oscar film, this violent, visceral, emotionally raw telling of the classic novel is most certainly the definitive cinematic iteration. Edward Berger makes the most of his canvas and performers, and from its explosive soundmix to the subtle performances there’s much to love.
How to Blow Up a Pipeline
Daniel Goldhaber’s thrilling eco-terrorist drama was one of the boldest screenings at the festival, and it’s no surprise the likes of Neon picked it up mid-fest. I called it a kind of “Oil Reservoir Dogs”, echoing structurally Tarantino’s heist classic but forming an engaging, action-packed character piece with a fierce political message.
Maya and the Wave
Sports docs often devolve into pretty rote story lines, so it’s rare that something as esoteric as big-wave surfing can make as big a splash as Stephanie Johnes’ remarkable non-fiction feat. The no-holds-barred telling never devolves into mythmaking, making the achievements, defeats and tenacity of the subject all the more riveting.
The Banshees of Inisherin
This isn’t exactly obscure, but Martin McDonagh’s film has now screened at both Venice and TIFF without substantial awards recognition, and I think that’s a shame. It’s a beautiful fable about uncivil war and the breaking down of friendships, and while most that saw it loved it, it’ll require lots speaking to its quality to get noticed.
Reginald Hudlin’s look at the legendary actor Sidney Poitier is highly celebratory, but the story is so compelling, his journey so powerful and rich that it’s hard not to fall for its charms. With insightful interviews from the actor himself, close collaborators and family members willing to be open and honest, it’s a fine tribute to the recently passed icon.
Louis Armstrong: Black & Blue
Another important examination of an iconic African-American, this film makes even more overt the argument to young people about how to see past the stereotypes and poorly-aged moments to a pioneering talent that helped define almost all music of the 20th century and beyond.
Project Wolf Hunting
Admittedly the film is pretty dumb, mixing Speed 2: Cruise Control, Con-Air and Predator in a soup of arterial spray and organ meat. But, for real, what the heck else do you really crave from a rambunctious Korean carnage film like this? Kim Hongsun delivers the punches with aplomb, and if you turn off your brain it’s a sheer delight.
I had missed this at Cannes, so along with Aftersun this was one of those fine catch-ups in the “festival-of-festivals” role for my TIFF. Vicky Krieps is luminous as the Empress of Austria, and Marie Kreutzer’s telling of the tale mixes history with whimsy, providing deep character moments without losing one in the trivium of names and places. Stellar.