When a few hundred films stop by the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s certainly impossible to cover everything, but we were able to catch around 100 features — and, with that, it’s time to conclude our experience, following the festival’s own award winners. We’ve rounded up our favorite films seen during the festival, followed by a list of the complete coverage.

Stay tuned over the next months (or years) as we bring updates on films as they make their way to screens.  One can also click here for a link to all of our coverage, including news, trailers, reviews, and much more. As always, thanks for reading, and let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below.

The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey)


In the Taliban-controlled Afghan city of Kabul, Nora Twomey’s debut film as sole director (she co-helmed Oscar nominee The Secret of Kells) depicts an eleven-year old girl facing the futility her future inevitably holds. Adapted by Anita Doron from the award-winning novel by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner delivers a heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale within a nation that’s lost its way. The shift was virtually overnight once the Taliban took over: women forced under hoods and trapped in houses, photographs and books outlawed, and men turned cruel as “protectors” of an extremist interpretation of a peaceful religion. The city’s former glory is immortalized only through stories of those who still remember. And as they perish to be replaced with new generations raised in hate, the past risks being forgotten forever. – Jared M. (full review)

Cardinals (Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley)


The big story surrounding Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley’s feature debut Cardinals playing the Toronto International Film Festival stems from the fact that both men graduated from the city’s own Ryerson University. As a longtime festival venue/partner, this premiere will inevitably be treated as a homecoming. But don’t let that fool you into screaming “favoritism!” while dismissing it as a “homer” pick: it’s the real deal. Stripping away the college they graduated from, the knowledge that both are TIFF alumni after screening their short Boxing, and their Canadian nationalities still leaves you with a singular work of devastating emotional psychology and infectiously biting wit. So remove the local fanfare and judge it on its own merits because it earns that right and deserves any accolade bestowed upon it. – Jared M. (full review)

C’est la vie! (Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano)


I went into Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s latest film C’est la vie! knowing nothing about it. My assumption from their two previous works, Intouchables and Samba, was that it would prove a charmingly funny dramedy tinged with relevant politics and racial complexity. Well, I was wrong. Whereas the latter film honed in on the former’s politics, this one strips them away completely to focus solely on the comedy. The result is an uproarious contemporary riff on Robert Altman’s underrated classic A Wedding. While it doesn’t spread out quite so large a net—focusing almost exclusively on wedding planner Max (Jean-Pierre Bacri) and his eccentric crew—it still wonderfully distills the fiscal and logistical absurdity of such formally traditional celebrations with biting satire, broad pratfalls, and expertly rendered caricature to its essence. – Jared M. (full review)

The Crescent (Seth A. Smith)


It starts by enveloping us in marbleizing paint — overlapping colors raked to warp dots into abstract patterns — and the loud aural pulses of a musical soundscape as heavy and permanent as those oils are fluidly malleable. We assume it’s merely a sensory aesthetic Seth A. Smith constructs to provide the tone for the subtle horrors still on the horizon, but don’t be surprised if you begin to interpret each new artwork as a self-portrait of characters we’ve yet to meet. Treat them as mood rings simultaneously displaying the strength of will and love to keep each hue from merging into muddy brown and the vulnerability of time folding in on itself like each layer of curved lines. They’re products of Beth’s (Danika Vandersteen) turmoil, a fight intentionally misconstrued. – Jared M. (full review)

Custody (Xavier Legrand)


It didn’t win the Oscar for best live action short in 2014, but Xavier Legrand’s Just Before Losing Everything was by far my favorite nominee. Discovering his debut feature Custody was constructed as an expansion of that story therefore made it a must-see. The short is soon revealed as a prequel, its look at the fallout of domestic abuse hopefully in the rearview considering Miriam Besson (Léa Drucker) readies to plead her case as to why her now ex-husband (Denis Ménochet’s Antoine) shouldn’t retain custody of their son Julien (Thomas Gioria)—his sister Joséphine (Mathilde Auneveux) recently turned eighteen and is free regardless. But while the evidence seems to prove Miriam’s case, a father’s love trumps a lack of concrete proof of his terror. The threat he poses, however, remains very real. – Jared M. (full review)

Disappearance (Boudewijn Koole)


Vignettes depicting a young girl playing the piano on a darkened concert stage come and go throughout Boudewijn Koole’s Disappearance. They provide bookends to the whole, his film seemingly a visual representation of the melody—both as this single chapter in Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen) life and its entire duration from birth to death. It’s only during the end credits that we’re finally told who this girl is: Young Louise (Eva Garet). The mystery lay in the fact that Roos played piano as a child too, giving it up at the same age (eight) her mother (Elsie de Brauw’s elder Louise) continued onto an illustrious, decades-spanning career. And while Louise beautifully breathed life into so many concertos, the composition that proved most difficult was always her daughter. – Jared M. (full review)

The Disaster Artist (James Franco)


The Room, a film produced, directed, written, and led by “entrepreneur” Tommy Wiseau, was supposed to be his grand artistic statement. What turned out instead was what many consider to one of the very worst movies of all time. In the years since 2003, however, the result was so bad that it has transcended genres to become a cult disaster comedy. The film was so fascinatingly inept that it seemed too good to be true. Were Wiseau’s intentions genuine? Did he really set out to make a good movie? The answer, we found out, was, quite certainly, yes. And that added to the allure and charm of the picture. In depicting its creation with The Disaster Artist, a love letter to bad cinema, James Franco has now created Ed Wood for the 21st century. – Jordan R. (full review)

Disobedience (Sebastían Lelio)


It starts with a London-based rabbi speaking from his heart about the complexities of life. He stammers through — obviously ailing — until collapse. Suddenly we’re in New York City watching a photographer in-session with tattooed seniors. The phone rings and we know. She (Rachel Weisz’s Ronit Krushka) is the daughter of that rabbi and he has passed away. The assumption is that both these worlds will subsequently collide in reunion. Tears will be shed and hugs had. But that’s not quite the case with Sebastían Lelio’s Disobedience. Ronit has been gone for some time and the leaving wasn’t under good terms. Her arrival is thus met with shock, bewilderment, and perhaps some anger. We sense the old wounds shared by all and ready to witness as they’re ripped open. – Jared M. (full review)

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman)


Frederick Wiseman’s films are often filled with moments that subtly and unexpectedly jolt viewers who think they know what they’re in for. In Ex Libris, in which he focuses on The New York Public Library, such a moment comes when Francine Houben, creative director of the firm selected to renovate the institution’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman building in midtown Manhattan, explains that libraries are not about books, or their storage, but about people. With this simple statement Houben encompasses the spirit of Wiseman’s generous, enlightening look at one of the most important organizations in the city, and as the film suggests, perhaps also an essential tool in preserving the American ideal of freedom and equality. – Jose S. (full review)

First Reformed (Paul Schrader)


Made with a kind of formal rigor that one would’ve assumed was long past Schrader after the “post-cinema” experimentations of The Canyons and Dog Eat DogFirst Reformed is first and foremost most admirable for its sustained mood. Shot in The Academy aspect ratio and maintaining a stillness and greyness that manages to seem utterly alien to the slow cinema standards of contemporary art films, one gets the sense of the director really having a genuine stake in the making of this picture. It seems the religious content is not so much an affect as a genuine late-in-life plea. – Ethan V. (full review)

Foxtrot (Samuel Maoz)


After an unexplained opening shot looking out from inside an anonymous moving vehicle, we soon meet Daphna Feldmann (Sarah Adler), whose son Jonathan (Yonathan Shiray) with husband Michael (Lior Ashkenazi) serves in the military. Meeting might be overstating it in this instance, as Daphna only looks into the camera for a split second and, without even hearing a word from her unseen visitors, faints. Her reaction is one of such utterly debilitating grief, it tells you right away who she finds at her doorstep and what they’re about to say. Indeed, it’s the worst nightmare of any soldier’s mom incarnated: grim-faced men in uniform have come to inform the Feldmanns that Jonathan has fallen in the line of duty. – Zhuo-Ning Su (full review)

Kissing Candice (Aoife McArdle)


With a first scene as stylish as that from Kissing Candice, the words “music video chic” come to mind before you can even discover writer/director Aoife McArdle is a James Vincent McMorrow regular who also released a short in collaboration with U2’s 2014 release Songs of Innocence. Between the oppressive reds and aural manipulation (I thought the volume wasn’t working until the score finally kicks in to augment the titular kiss), you can’t help admiring the sensory craftsmanship onscreen despite having no contextual basis for anything occurring. What begins as a romantic interlude shared between Candice (Ann Skelly) and Jacob (Ryan Lincoln) soon shifts to the latter randomly and silently strolling down the street (through fire) until finally arriving at a bar where the former is inexplicably waiting. – Jared M. (full review)

I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie)


Eclipsed by the subsequent notorious O.J. Simpson murder fiasco, one can’t really blame Margot Robbie for initially believing Tonya Harding to be a fictitious character. What was months prior an inescapable media frenzy, the Kerrigan-Harding incident was erased from prevalence almost instantaneously. Configured as a mockumentary, Craig Gillespie revives the case against Harding in a darkly comedic and surprisingly affecting study of an athlete shunned from the public eye for what might have been nothing more than the result of a teenager who followed her heart. – Joseph F. (full review)

Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)


It’s easy to imagine the “old-school” Bruno Dumont Joan of Arc film; faith, martyrdom, and the landscape of the French countryside intermingling to a wrenching finale, with Bresson and Dreyer certainly paid their transcendental cinema due. Though perhaps realizing their films weren’t the be-all, end-all in terms of representing the French icon, even if Preminger, Rivette and uh, Besson, had also offered their own takes that showed a portrait beyond the trial and subsequent burning at the stake, he finally set about making it, but as a new artist. – Ethan V. (full review)

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)


Lady Bird is one of the year’s great joys. Greta Gerwig’s debut as a solo writer-director is so wise, so funny, and so remarkably assured that it seems to have flown in out of nowhere. Where did this nearly perfect coming-of-age comedy and emotionally affecting study of youth, social status, and financial malaise come from? The answer has been hiding in plain sight. As an actress, Gerwig has shown inimitable intelligence in films such as Frances Ha and 20th Century Women. She has now moved behind the camera for a 2002-set study of a Sacramento teen’s final year of high school, starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, and Timothée Chalamet, with music by Jon Brion. – Christopher S. (full review)

Manhunt (John Woo)


Something must have happened to John Woo in the last decade or so. It’s been well over a decade since his last full-blown, modern-day action film, having made the historical epics Red Cliff and The Crossing after leaving Hollywood, and Manhunt — his return to the genre that launched his career — feels like a new kind of John Woo. Now in his 70s, Woo has become fully self-aware, and in doing so seems to have challenged himself to create the most John Woo movie ever made. With Manhunt, he has indeed made the most John Woo movie possible, while also making a film that could just be described as “the most.” It’s a deliriously entertaining thrill ride from start to end, and sure to go down as one of the most enjoyable films of 2017. – C.J. P. (full review)

On Chesil Beach (Dominic Cooke)


It’s 1962. Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) have just been married. She’s from a wealthy family and he a provincial one; her desire to be active in world affairs beyond her status’ ambivalence and his hope to be accepted as an intellectual with the potential of outgrowing a brawler reputation placing them at odds with the environments that raised them to seek escape. And they are in love: a true, deep, and unstoppable love that allowed their differences to take a backseat as far as community and parentage was concerned. It’s propelled them towards a hotel honeymoon suite on the water, an isolating venue affording them the privacy such auspicious occasions crave and the stifling quiet able to intensify their utter lack of sexual experience and wealth of insecure awkwardness. – Jared M. (full review)

Princesita (Marialy Rivas)


Miguel (Marcelo Alonso) compares God to a fire when explaining how the ones our religions’ sacred books describe aren’t quite right. Our creator is simpler than those iterations. He has the power to turn wood into ash and water into steam. He has the power to transform. But just as fire forges from its flames, it also destroys. It’s this duality that director Marialy Rivas and co-writer Camila Gutiérrez gives form to in their film Princesita. As cultist Miguel’s young disciple Tamara (Sara Caballero) reaches puberty and her transformation into womanhood, he explains the purpose of this event in context to his motives. What should be a joyous occasion becomes clouded over by predatory imperative. And while she initially embraces them, she soon recognizes the danger they represent. – Jared M. (full review)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Angela Robinson)


Many probably don’t know about the man who created Wonder Woman. It’s not a surprise considering the decades it took to finally bring the character to the big screen despite a popularity that rivals her male Justice League counterparts. He wasn’t just some writer cashing in on the superhero craze spawned by neither a successful run of Superman nor a rags-to-riches story of an unknown. No, Dr. William Moulton Marston was a psychologist, Harvard PhD, professor, and inventor of the lie detector. He was a feminist who married his childhood sweetheart and equal both privately and professionally and developed the concept of DISC Theory—a behavioral assessment tool breaking down human behavior into the four categories of dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. It’s upon this theory that Wonder Woman stands. – Jared M. (full review)

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Tony Gilroy)


Roman J. Israel, Esq. defies expectations at every turn. It stars Denzel Washington, but this is not the suave, in-control character the actor’s known for. Instead, the title character is a socially awkward, anachronistically dressed misfit. It’s a legal drama, but eschews the epic courtroom scenes and shocking turns that are the genre’s hallmarks. Israel is the anti-Michael Clayton. It is writer-director Dan Gilroy’s follow-up to the deliciously nasty Nightcrawler, but no thriller. Even the poster misleads: released the morning of the film’s world premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, its central image — the back of Washington’s head and upper body, decked out in a 1970s suit and wearing dated headphones — implies that the film takes place decades earlier. In fact, it is set in 2017. – Christopher S. (full review)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)


As cumbersome titles go, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is right up there with the Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Whatevers of this world. Coming from Martin McDonagh–a London bred writer-director of Irish extraction–there are perhaps even notes of pretension in its derivative Americana. Of course, whoever said that books are not to be read by their covers should have perhaps said something about titles, too. Indeed, McDonagh’s latest work is simply exceptional; a film so rich with narrative fluidity, profane laughs, standout performances and complex character studies that its tremendous emotional hits–often arriving when you least expect them–might just leave you agog. – Rory O. (full review)

The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro)


It is not outside the realm of fair judgment to suggest that Guillermo del Toro has been a little off the boil in recent years. Over-scheduling can do that, even to the best of us, but The Shape of Water, an unconventional love story — with a generous dash of the supernatural — set in a dreamy 1950s United States and featuring knockout performances from Michael Shannon and Sally Hawkins, does represent a clear return to form. This is bolstered to no small degree by the fact that it is, in essence, a fairytale and the singular Mexican director — along with his physically-gifted performer Doug Jones — has always been at his most punky and creatively audacious when working in the confines (or lack thereof) of that particular genre. As his enchanting, imaginative latest film proves, it’s great to have him back. – Rory O. (full review)

Valley of Shadows (Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen)


Six year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives a quiet life with his single mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland) in a rural town adjacent to farmland and a mountaintop forest. He’s too young to understand all that’s happening around him — especially considering he’s generally told to keep away from the adults when they’re speaking — but he knows enough to gauge the strained atmosphere and heavy emotion growing. So he looks through keyholes and gazes out windows, everything he sees simultaneously meaningful and yet without meaning. When things get too intense he hides in his closest. When he begins to feel alone he finds his dog Rapp. And as tension mounts at home (police chatter about his estranged brother puts Astrid on edge), a monster begins lurking in the distant trees. – Jared M. (full review)

The Rest

The Other Side of Hope (A)

Call Me By Your Name (A-)
Mrs. Fang (A-)
The Square (A-)
Western (A-)

Ana, mon amour (B+)
(BPM) Beats Per Minute (B+)
The Day After (B+)
A Fantastic Woman (B+)
Félicité (B+)
Good Luck (B+)
The Rider (B+)
Suburbicon (B+)
The Wife (B+)

A Ciambra (B)
April’s Daughter (B)
Battle of the Sexes (B)
Beyond Words (B)
Bodied (B)
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (B)
Chappaquiddick (B)
Downsizing (B)
Five Fingers for Marseilles (B)
Gutland (B)
Happy End (B)
The Insult (B)
Mademoiselle Paradis (B)
Molly’s Game (B)
Mudbound (B)
On Body and Soul (B)
Papillon (B)
Redoubtable (B)
Scott and the Secret History of Hollywood (B)
Sheikh Jackson (B)
A Skin So Soft (B)
Stronger (B)
The Swan (B)
What Will People Say (B)
Winter Brothers (B)
A Worthy Companion (B)

Black Kite (B-)
Borg/McEnroe (B-)
Cocaine Prison (B-)
The Current War (B-)
The Death of Stalin (B-)
Dunkirk (B-)
The Florida Project (B-)
In the Fade (B-)
Lean on Pete (B-)
Let the Corpses Tan (B-)
Of Sheep and Men (B-)
The Nothing Factory (B-)
Novitiate (B-)
Verónica (B-)

Caniba (C+)
Downrage (C+)
Loveless (C+)
The Mountain Between Us (C+)
Porcupine Lake (C+)
Thelma (C+)
Soldiers. Story from Ferentari (C+)
Zama (C+)

The Lodger (C)
Mary Shelley (C)
mother! (C)
Outside In (C)
Unicorn Store (C)
You Disappear (C)

Brad’s Status (C-)
Dark River (C-)
Euphoria (C-)
I Love You, Daddy (C-)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (C-)
Kings (C-)
Les Affamés (C-)
Motorrad (C-)

Darkest Hour (D+)
Kodachrome (D+)

Marrowbone (D)
Submergence (D)

See our complete TIFF 2017 coverage.

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