TIFF 2013: Top 20 Films of the Festival
Over the last 2 weeks my opinions have changed towards some of the films I’ve seen. Watching up to 4 films in one day can be exhausting, and sometimes through reflection films can seem better or worse in retrospect. In other words, if there are inconsistencies between my list and the reviews/ratings I gave, deal with it.
My Top 20 Films from the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival:
#20 – The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
It’s amazing how much Cattet/Forzani’s style worked in Amer, and how much it didn’t work here. At the start I was thinking it might be the best film I saw at TIFF up to that point. At the end it felt like nails on a chalkboard.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears review
#19 – Moebius
This only gets ranked above Strange Colour purely by the fact that I could watch it without a problem.
#18 – The Green Inferno
Half of the movie is poorly acted and written drivel. The other half’s nastiness and excellent make-up by KnB make it more tolerable, but this belongs right alongside the other horror films only available on VOD.
The Green Inferno review
#17 – Like Father, Like Son
A complicated moral tale destroyed by its director making his characters spend 2 hours catching up to agree with his point of view (which is established immediately). A snooze.
Like Father, Like Son review
#16 – A Field in England
A cheap, nonsensical and mind-maddening period piece involving alchemists and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Some fun moments when things go berserk editing-wise, but that’s about the only entertainment value I got out of it.
A Field in England review
#15 – Night Moves
Kelly Reichardt is still terrific behind the camera, but she put all her eggs in the wrong basket this time. Nothing really works here on a fundamental level, leaving the visuals and cast to do their best.
Night Moves review
#14 – October November
Gotz Spielmann’s disappointing follow-up to Revanche tries to tell a dramatic story with no real drama in it. An admirable effort, but nothing more than that.
October November review
#13 – Canopy
An amazing debut on a technical level, but ultimately lacking. Still, Aaron Wilson will be a name to look out for if he makes another film.
#12 – R100
At times hilarious, but completely baffling overall. Hitoshi Matsumoto’s usual brand of off-kiler humour and self-aware jokes just don’t mix as well as his other films this time.
#11 – The Sacrament
Ti West’s attempt to document a modern-day Jonestown hasn’t been aging well with me. It’s still well-done, and has some excellent warming up in the first two acts, but it isn’t making much of an impact in the way his previous films have with me. The subject matter seems a little bit in poor taste too if you know what it’s based on, but it’s still an effective horror film.
The Sacrament review
#10 – Under the Skin
I have my issues with it, but I can’t deny Under the Skin‘s power. It’s one of the more Kubrickian films I’ve seen in years, and I still can’t shake some images from it out of my head. I wish the shift in the second half was handled better, but in time I feel like I’ll grow to appreciate Under the Skin much more than I already do.
Under the Skin review
#9 – Gravity
It’s disappointing from Cuaron, but I can’t deny how much of a technical marvel this is. Expect this to win all the technical awards at the Oscars. There won’t even be a competition.
#8 – Manakamana
One of the most fascinating films I saw at the festival, and it further establishes Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab as one of the best documentary producers today. It was a pleasant surprise when Cinema Guild picked this up for distribution, and I hope that people are willing to give it a chance.
#7 – Blind Detective
Johnnie To loses his mind, and the results are just as entertaining as many of his other films. Even when he’s switching genres between films (or within the films themselves), To proves he’s one of the more consistent filmmakers working today.
Blind Detective review
#6 – Why Don’t You Play In Hell?
Sono is back on form with his absolutely insane love letter to 35mm filmmaking and projection. It’s gloriously bonkers, simultaneously all over the place and tightly controlled, and a fun time for the most part.
Why Don’t You Play In Hell? review
#5 – The Past
Asghar Farhadi makes yet another well-done drama, with a terrific cast playing people who can’t escape the tragedies from (say it with me) their pasts. Farhadi seems to be the only filmmaker doing stories like this today, and we’re all the better for it.
The Past review
#4 – Oculus
Mike Flanagan lives up to the potential he showed in Absentia. It’s a horror film that understands the power of story, with a terrifying villain and a terrific script that uses its single location brilliantly. Hopefully audiences will discover Oculus, as the horror genre needs more people like Flanagan.
#3 – Stranger By The Lake
Gorgeous, seductive and a total nail-biter by the end. Stranger is an amazingly well-constructed film that will resonate with anyone who watches it.
Stranger By The Lake review
#2 – Only Lovers Left Alive
A film where one can live vicariously through its characters, and Jarmusch nails the carefree tone he’s clearly going for. It’s a big, long kiss to great artists throughout history, and it’s a total blast to watch.
Only Lovers Left Alive review
#1 – Stray Dogs
Tsai Ming-Liang’s swan song pushes the limits of his style (and his actors!) further than ever before. It’s a film where the weight of time on its characters are fully understood, and a showcase of just how masterful Tsai is when it comes to form. If it truly is his last film, he’ll be going out with one of his best films to date.
Stray Dogs review