From Spielberg’s ‘Fabelmans’ to Brendan Fraser’s ‘Whale’ – the best and most enduring of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

From Spielberg’s ‘Fabelmans’ to Brendan Fraser’s ‘Whale’ – the best and most enduring of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

'The Great Whale' (A24);  'The Fabelmans' (Universal);  'The Woman King' (TriStar)

‘The Great Whale’ (Photo: A24); ‘The Fabelmans’ (Photo: Universal); ‘The Woman King’ (Photo: TriStar)

The Toronto International Film Festival just returned in full swing – which means fully in person – for the first time since 2019. And, just like before, the sad event helped kick off Oscar season. with A-list stars, award-winning films and a bit of controversy

The likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Harry Styles and even “Weird Al” Yankovic have traveled north of the border, where high-profile world premieres by Steven Spielberg have been embraced by reliably friendly local audiences. The Fabelmans and Rian Johnson Knives Out sequence Glass Onionand the critics were insisting on the merits of divisive films such as those of Sam Mendes Empire of Light and Darren Aronofsky’s The Great Whale.

It was Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical family drama The Fabelmans which won the Toronto People’s Choice Award, which was recently predicted for Best Picture Nomadland and Green Book. (Each of the last 10 winners at Toronto has been nominated for at least Best Picture, an impressive streak.)

Here are our favorites from the 2022 edition of TIFF (in alphabetical order):

Banshees Inisherin

British-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh has made quite a following with dark, violent crime legends such as In Bruges (2008) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). So what if we told you that Banshees is it the most glorious thing he has done yet? McDonagh loses the element of crime – if he doesn’t suddenly decide you don’t like your best friend/drinking buddy it’s a crime (and it should be), as with Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and poor Pádraic (Colin Farrell). . Farrell’s best performance to date and this infectious Irish dialogue is found in this delightful, funny, moving and quoted as often as possible. Fargoand Midwestern quips. In other words, expect to hear the word “fecking” a lot.

How/when you see it: In theaters October 21


Jennifer Lawrence’s second film back after a brief acting hiatus is much quieter and less star-studded than the 2021 Oscar-nominated satire Don’t Look Upbut there is still plenty — unlike the 2010s Winter’s Bone, the play that first put her on the map. Lawrence gives a stirring performance as a brain-injured Afghan soldier who would rather be anywhere (or, preferably, back in the Middle East) than face the demons of his past at his mother’s house in New Orleans. Brian Tyree Henry is equally impressive as the mechanic and their shared trauma creates a poignant bond between the two.

How/when you see it: In theaters and on Apple TV+ November 4

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg, phone home? Hollywood’s most successful filmmaker gets very personal with his autobiographical feature, with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as versions of his parents, and newcomer Gabriel LaBelle as the filmmaker’s alter ego, Sammy. And the Toronto crowds (right) were here for it. There was a wave of critical raves and applause from the audience, The Fabelmans It won the festival’s People’s Choice award, an award that often heralds an upcoming Oscar. But Spielberg was careful to keep the focus on the film and not the awards race, saying at a post-premier Q&A that the film was, first and foremost, “a way to bring my mom and dad to back.”

Although Williams’ performance has already been praised, The Fabelmans there’s also a memorable supporting turn from Seth Rogen as the Fabelman children’s surrogate uncle, who is carrying on a secret romance with their mother that Sammy eventually discovers in one of the film’s best and most dramatic sequences. And look for a comedic cameo from David Lynch as legendary director John Ford, who gives the young filmmaker some much-needed advice. And no, it’s not: “The spice must flow.”

How/when you see it: In selected theaters November 11 before expanding nationwide November 23

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Could Rian Johnson be at the top of his game, maybe, his amazing 2019 win Knives Out with this highly anticipated follow-up? That he comes close is a victory in itself. Glass Onion just as star-studded (Edward Norton! Janelle Monae! Kate Hudson! Daniel Craig again, no doubt!) and once again he’s screwing over the rich, but it’s also a grittier story, leaving New England for a private Greek . an island overflowing with technological gadgets. Most impressive, however, is the way Johnson recreates an extremely detailed murder mystery that has the absurd fun of peeling away its layers – and maybe even making some of them cry with laughter.

How/when you see it: In select theaters in November (date TBA) before streaming on Netflix December 23

The People’s Joker

This is a special TIFF film will not be play in a theater near you… at least, not yet. Vera Drew’s subversive/experimental cinema collage based on Batman had a one-night only screening during Midnight Madness, before the filmmaker pulled it from the festival amid pressure from DC Comics parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. The trans filmmaker has already promised that The People’s Joker It will be screened again at future festivals, but perhaps not the exact version that TIFF had as it grappled with copyright issues in the way of a wider release.

Make no mistake: the Joker may belong in Arkham Asylum, but The People’s Joker Movies should be free from prison. Drew’s wild vision of the Caped Crusader and Cloistered Prince of Crime serves as a vantage point for a deeply personal exploration of gender identity and the prejudices of the comedy world, all filtered through a mixed-media pop culture lens that carries echoes of it. Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger and Todd Haynes. This is the kind of bold, original vision you’ll go to film festivals to discover, so hopefully other festival-goers will soon have the same chance.

How/when you see it: We’re not sure yet, but our fingers are crossed for that The People’s Joker Will return.

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

You didn’t expect a guy named “Weird Al” to do a normal would you do a biopic? It’s a real – and really funny – feature film that started in 2010 as a three-minute Funny or Die trailer with ex-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe picking up an Al Yankovic accordion and Hawaiian shirt for his UHF– a stylized account of the musician’s life and career. TIFF programmers were chosen wisely Weird: The Al Yankovic Story to kick off its Midnight Madness slate, and the midnight audience welcomed the film. Every stunt cameo, every shout-out to Yankovic’s antics and every musical cue was greeted with thunderous cheers and applause — a clear sign that the Roku Channel should seriously consider a limited theatrical release as well as a streaming premiere of the film.

Apart from Radcliffe’s spirit spell, Strange plus there’s a hilarious performance from Evan Rachel Wood as a grim version of the Material Girl. “I’ve loved Madonna since I was very little,” on the Western world star said after the premiere of the film. “I knew it was a heightened and sociopathic version of Madonna, but I still wanted it to be good!” Meanwhile, her co-star described her rigorous accordion training regime, supervised by Yankovic himself. “I did what I could,” Radcliffe said with typical British humility. “It’s a very hard tool – he makes it look so easy!”

How/when you see it: Stream November 4 on the Roku Channel

(produced by Brendan Fraser) The Great Whale

Don’t let me tell you that Darren Aronofsky makes movies that are easy to digest. After back-to-back premieres at Venice and Toronto, The Great Whale already one of the most buzzed about – and divisive – films of the fall. To be fair, everyone (including ourselves) agrees that Brendan Fraser’s performance as a morbidly obese teacher eating himself to death in his squalid apartment is the best comeback performance of his career that could very well give. The Grandma star of his first ever Oscar nomination and possibly victory. In addition to its leading man, the film also features excellent supporting work Stranger Things Fan favorite Sadie Sink – who plays Fraser’s angsty teenage daughter – as well as Hong Chau, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins. But opinions differ widely as to which The Great Whale it’s a caring portrayal of a detached man or an exercise in fat-phobic humiliation.

You can expect that debate to continue as The Great Whale approaching its theatrical premiere in December – a stark reminder of Aronofsky’s skill at pushing audiences’ buttons. (See also: The Fountain, Black Swan and of course, Mother!) One thing is certain: you will not come out of the theater without a warm welcome.

How/when you see it: In theaters December 9

The Lady King

It’s usually not a great sign when a film is at TIFF a few days before a theatrical opening. well, The Lady King bucked that trend. Gina Prince Blythewood’s thrilling action film is at once a reverse battle royal and a never-before-seen kind of war movie, a film that finds the West African heroine Dahomey’s Dahomey army (led by the Oscar-worthy Viola Davis, stop us if so.’ he had heard that before) fighting for freedom in the middle of the slave trade in the early 19th century. Despite fueling controversy over its historical accuracy, The Lady King still scored a royal $19 million over its opening weekend in theaters to influence last weekend’s box office.

How/when you see it: Now in theaters

Women Talking

The first feature film by the Canadian child turned Sarah Polley in the past decade is her fourth feature to have a TIFF premiere. Not surprisingly, she had plenty of hometown support: Women Talking It was the first place to win the People’s Choice award, and after that the talk of it and the conversation of the awards will intensify. But there is much more to be said about Polley’s nuanced and highly positive adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 bestseller, which unfolds in a Bolivian Mennonite colony where the female population is debating whether or not to leave after a series of rapes and suffer abuses. the male population of the community.

On the page, the story looks like the minutes of their extended meeting, but Polley’s well-written script opens the story into a portrait of the entire community, populated by magnetic performers such as Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley. With the clock ticking down on their literally life-changing decision, Women Talking which becomes a story about what one generation of women owes to another — a message that becomes more prominent after the Supreme Court. Rua v. Wade reversed. Not for nothing, but the film also boasts one of the best needle-drops of the year as Polley combs “Daydream Believer” for a long sequence that provides glee amid the drama.

How/when you see it: In select theaters December 2

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