Toronto: My five favorites

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Michael Fassbender in Shame

Michael Fassbender in Shame


And so another edition of the festival has ended—sprawling and hard to characterize as ever, but yielding its share of stunners. The jockeying that happens at a fest like TIFF, where hundreds of movies compete for buzz, often results in a better approximation of audience interest, broad critical appeal and market interest than at a relatively tiny, hand-picked affair like Cannes or New York. TONY slogged through its share of highs and lows. Here are five titles we'd happily see again, with a handful of honorable mentions noted as well.

RECOMMENDED: Full coverage of the Toronto Film Festival

1. Shame Michael Fassbender as a sex addict got us through the door, but Steve McQueen's psychodrama stayed in mind far longer via its more subtle achievement—it's an instant NYC classic loaded with late-night city jogs, the music of Blondie and Chic and an aching, survivalist mentality. Essential for anyone who calls this place home.

2. A Separation Never mind that the Iranian justice system may strike you as alien; this beautifully modulated procedural—about a divorcing couple hit with an accusation by their caretaker—is as recognizable as Kramer vs. Kramer in its empathy for all sides.

3. You're Next Finding decent new horror is hard enough (trust me, I try everything) but this under-the-radar entry, a mansion-invasion thriller with a high body count and plenty of savage yuks, might actually reinvigorate the genre with the humor it's been lacking for years.

4. Moneyball It's no small thing that Brad Pitt has finally eased into the Redfordian stature he's always angled for; here is the performance (devoid of a love interest, tellingly, apart from a daughter) that he should be remembered for, filled with dignity and fire.

5. Twilight Portrait Russia's post-Soviet class divide continues to inspire seriously ambitious drama; this film doesn't have U.S. distribution yet (a crime), but its plot, about a well-to-do rape victim revising her life, has been exploding in my head for days.

A few honorable mentions: Andrea Arnold's rustic Wuthering Heights, Woody Harrelson's magnificent bad cop in Rampart, the ominous morality tale Elena.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

Read David Fear's best-of-fest list


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