With the arrival of fall comes a veritable cornucopia of brand new movies, but with so many choices it can be difficult to figure out what’s actually worth your while. You don’t want to waste good popcorn on bad movies, after all.
Now that the dust has settled and we’re closing the door on TIFF 2018, here’s a look back at some of my favourite movies I saw over the past couple weeks.
A Star is Born
No film came to TIFF with more overwhelming hype than A Star is Born. I was a sceptic until I saw it.. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut makes a strong case for his talent on both sides of the camera lens. In this remake, Bradley shows off all the directorial tricks he’s picked up from his long acting career but it’s his portrayal of a broken-down country musician looking like he hasn’t showered in a month and Lady Gaga playing aspiring singer who steal the show. And then, there is Sam Elliott , who I believe is already a serious bet for a supporting actor Oscar nod for his role as Jackson’s brother. But my most favourite part? The incredible soundtrack and the vocals by both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Bring the tissues.
Director Damien Chazelle provides an intimate and thrilling look into the life of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and his moon-landing journey. While First Man is a fascinating look at NASA and the Gemini and Apollo programs, at its heart, is about death and overcoming the pain of loss. I loved how it felt incredibly intimate. When I saw Claire Foy, who played Neils’ wife Janet, on screen, I was overwhelmed with emotions. It’s a breathtaking piece of filmmaking. See it in Imax for the full experience.
Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical drama follows a young domestic worker (Yalitza Aparicio) for a family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma in Mexico City. The film is in Spanish, it’s set in 1970s Mexico, and it’s presented in black and white delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him, Cuarón draws on his own childhood memories. Get ready for a classic. They don’t make movies like this anymore.
With a woman like Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, an early 20th-century writer best known for her erotic novels, that should have been an easy bar to clear. Keira Knightley gets a lot of room to play and seizes that opportunity big time! Much of this visually delightful and funny movie has an energetic and playful vibe and it earns Keira official status as queen of the period film. By the time she is done with Colette, you’ll be empowered and fascinated.
Based on the memoirs by David Sheff (Steve Carell) and his son Nic Sheff (Timothee Chalamet), the story explores teenager’s struggle with addiction and the inability of a dad to help his son despite his best efforts. Beautiful Boy is not just another movie about a father struggling to save his drug-addicted son, it’s a heart-rending testament to the unconditional and powerful love a parent has for a child. I was deeply moved by it…
The Front Runner
When a sex scandal is thrown our way we can’t not look. Nothing can grab attention quicker. That is how we live now but it wasn’t always that way. The Front Runner follows the rise and fall of Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman), who captured the imagination of young voters and was considered the overwhelming front runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination when his campaign was sidelined by the story of an extramarital relationship with Donna Rice. I love a good political drama and anything Hugh Jackman but the strong and sprawling supporting cast takes this movie to the next level.
This compassionate family drama with extraordinary performances from Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe tells the story of the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is ousted because of his homosexuality. He is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is quite difficult, even painful, to watch but I feel it’s also an important one, one that might save lives if enough young people find their way to it.
Green Book has won the TIFF’s People’s Choice Award and I’m not surprised. The film is adapted from the true story of an accomplished black pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian-American driver (Mortensen) navigating a tour of the racist Deep South in the early 1960s. The men are from very different worlds, but do eventually bond, and the film chronicles the birth of their actual friendship. The comedy-drama, based on a true story, delivers on so many levels- the casting of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen is spot on and the movie is charming and uplifting, something we all need these days.
Photos: Courtesy of TIFF