The Best Of TIFF 2019: Whodunits, Divorces, Lighthouses, and Hitler
Posted on Friday, September 13th, 2019 by Chris Evangelista
Another Toronto International Film Festival is drawing to a close, and what a wonderful year it was. This was my fourth year attending the festival, and I have to say, there wasn’t a single movie I saw this year that I outright disliked. There were titles I loved more than others, but out of the many movies I caught at the fest, I’d honestly say all are worth seeing. Below, I’ve put together a best of TIFF 2019 round-up to highlight some specific films you’re not going to want to miss whenever they find their way to theaters.
Two films deserve to earn this title. The first is Rian Johnson‘s utterly wonderful Knives Out, the most entertaining movie of the festival. Johnson’s whodunit boasts a cast that includes Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer, all of whom get their own moments to shine – while also bouncing off each other brilliantly.
The Atlantic: TIFF 2019: Nine Movies to Pay Attention to This Awards Season
First impressions of some of the festival’s buzziest films so far, including Knives Out, A Hidden Life, and Marriage Story
TORONTO—“Who’s ready for an old-school whodunit?” That was Rian Johnson’s question as the director took the stage at the Princess of Wales Theatre this past weekend to introduce his new thriller, Knives Out, one of the centerpiece premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival. Johnson had spent the past few years of his career on the blockbuster treadmill, making Star Wars: The Last Jedi and then enduring waves of hype, online trolling, praise, and backlash for the inimitable sequel. Johnson’s exhortation about Knives Out had a note of relief to it; no longer tangled up in franchise concerns, the filmmaker had created a classic mystery, the likes of which Hollywood used to produce with aplomb.
Knives Out, a clear highlight of the festival so far, turns out to be anything but simple. It’s a dazzlingly confident and self-aware parlor game of a film, one that gleefully undermines its own murder-mystery premise and takes a worn subgenre in strange new directions. I suspect Johnson was using old-school rather wryly. Like so many of the biggest hits at TIFF this year, Knives Out is being positioned by its studio, Lionsgate, as the kind of inviting throwback the industry has been starved of in 2019: films that are devoid of CGI, unconcerned with shared universes, and stacked with movie stars such as Daniel Craig and Chris Evans. But Johnson’s movie doesn’t rely only on the nostalgia factor, instead standing out by finding a fresh way to tell a familiar story.
I won’t give away too many details about Knives Out, which will hit theaters this Thanksgiving; the joy of seeing it lies in witnessing the creative ways Johnson sets up his plot dominoes and knocks them down. It also manages to be both fun and trenchant, telling a caustic and modern story of haves and have-nots in the style of a Poirot novel. That same, sometimes weary touch of modernity reverberated through many of the films I’ve seen thus far (the festival, which essentially kicks off the industry’s awards season, started on September 5 and runs through September 15).
Vanity Fair: Oscars 2020: The State of the Race After Fall Festival Season
Three V.F. staffers discuss what they saw at Toronto, Telluride, and Venice—and try to figure out which of this fall’s big films might go all the way to the Academy Awards.
The other film getting near-universal praise was Knives Out, which also happens to be a movie we should discuss with as little plot detail as possible. Nearly two years after The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson has returned with a much more compact and satisfyingly twisty whodunit mystery that puts all the clever filmmaking skill he’s shown in the past to excellent use. Daniel Craig is a surprise comic MVP, as is relative newcomer Ana de Armas in a consistently surprising lead role. It’s hard to know how much Oscar buzz to predict for a snappy crime thriller, but Knives Out stands a decent shot at the TIFF audience award, a well-known harbinger for best-picture success. After screening at Fantastic Fest later this month, the film will likely go quiet before its late-November release in order to keep its surprises intact; that’s probably when we’ll really know if this hugely enjoyable movie will get the audience it deserves.
From Joker to Mister Rogers: These 10 Movies Drew Cheers at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival
By Mara Reinstein
You want glamour? A slew of A-list celebrities? Legit important movies? Unusually friendly volunteers in bright orange T-shirts? Spend a Saturday night at the Toronto International Film Festival. For the 2019 edition, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Tom Hanks, Eddie Murphy and Chris Evans all walked the red carpet for their respective new films within a matter of hours and then partied inside posh restaurants until the bustling downtown streets quieted. (Alas, exes Stewart and Pattinson didn’t interact.) At some point along the way, I guarantee these stars also tuned in to the post-premiere buzz. After all, it’s just a quick ride from Canada to the Oscars. So, which movies came out on top? Here’s the rundown on my 10 faves, with a special shout-out to the fabulous, just-released Hustlers. Fall Preview 2019: 20 Must-See Flicks of the Season
A wealthy family patriarch is found dead after his 85th birthday party. Whodunnit? Who cares! The pure enjoyment in this devilishly fun murder-mystery derives from watching clever super-sleuth Daniel Craig investigate the conniving suspects. Original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter with a philandering husband (Don Johnson); Chris Evans is the greedy and entitled grandson. You’ll never untwist it all before the closing credits. (In theaters November 27)
Hollywood Reporter Critics' 20 Favorite Films From the Fall Festivals
by Jon Frosch
A geriatric sex epic, a career high for Noah Baumbach, first-rate star vehicles for J. Lo and Riz Ahmed and a shocking Golden Lion winner are among the best movies from Venice, Telluride and Toronto. 'Knives Out'
Daniel Craig plays the wily detective trying to untangle the truth when a best-selling mystery writer is found with his throat slit the morning after his 85th birthday party in Rian Johnson’s ingeniously plotted, gloriously irreverent old-fashioned whodunit. Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Toni Collette are standouts in the utterly delicious ensemble. — D.R