It's all over at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival where for years, Time Out has gone to gorge on dozens of highly anticipated movies over the course of a single sleepless week. After seeing nearly 40 films (you do the math for how many movies a day that is), I've left the Great White North with a solid list of ten essentials that should be on every cinephile's radar. Some of these are coming to the New York Film Festival in a matter of days; others will be opening in town by the end of the year. And one of them will only be coming to Netflix, but it's a perfect film to watch at home…with all the lights turned out.
Here are our 10 TIFF favorites, roughly ranked:
1. Jackie The surprise sensation of the festival delivered a complex, fiercely committed performance by Natalie Portman (never better), plunging into Jackie Kennedy’s grief and resolve during the week after the assassination. Read our review
2. La La Land I’m cheating a little because I saw this euphoric, swirling neo-musical romance many weeks beforehand. But I needed to experience it again at Toronto, just to have an enraptured audience around me. Read our review
3. Moonlight The tricky coming of age of a poor Miami kid is the subject of Barry Jenkins finely etched indie portrait of African-American life. It’s a model of poetic riskiness—exactly where our indie film industry should be. Read our review
4. The Girl With All the Gifts Civilization is overrun by chomping death, but Colm McCarthy’s unusually thoughtful zombie movie demonstrates plenty of life. I was knocked out by the ideas in this film, as well as by young star Sennia Nanua. Read our review
5. Voyage of Time Terrence Malick’s inspiring poem-slash-prayer of a documentary (about planetary science) found its perfect expression in this tight 45-minute IMAX cut, complete with a Brad Pitt narration that emphasized the hope for future generations.
6. I Am Not Your Negro Raoul Peck’s six-years-in-the-making documentary about being black in America counterpoises Civil Rights–era footage with bruising clips from today. And Samuel L. Jackson’s decidedly nonfurious narration, beaten down with gravitas, is his finest performance, bar none.
7. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House TIFF’s most hilariously titled movie was also its most poetic: an often lovely and quiet spell of a horror film (owing much to the novels of Shirley Jackson) about an old house and its spooked caretaker. It comes exclusively to Netflix October 28.
8. Into the Inferno Much of Werner Herzog’s latest documentary beguiled me, especially the section about a married French couple of daredevil volcanologists who died doing what they love. They got too close to the fury of nature.
9. Raw An ambulance attended to a couple of Midnight Madness viewers made faint by this extremely gory Belgian export, about a teenage girl who becomes a cannibal at college. I had to close my eyes frequently, but this was incredibly effective stuff, part Ginger Snaps and part In My Skin.
10. Mascots Christopher Guest returned to the mockumentary feature a full decade after For Your Consideration and the wait was worth it, just for the sight of a gigantic fist on ice skates popping the middle finger at a mortified Jane Lynch.