From Spielberg’s ‘Fabelmans’ to Brendan Fraser’s divisive ‘Whale’ — the best and buzziest of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

'The Whale' (A24);  'The Fablemans' (Universal);  'The Woman King' (Tristar)

‘The Whale’ (Photo: A24); ‘The Fablemans’ (Photo: Universal); ‘The Woman King’ (Photo: Tristar)

The Toronto International Film Festival just went into full effect for the first time since 2019 — meaning completely in person — and, just like old times, the spectacular 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 traveled north of the border, where reliably friendly local audiences caught high-profile world premieres from the likes of Steven Spielberg. Fablemans And Rian Johnson’s Knife out the sequel Glass onionsWhile critics emphasized the virtues of divisive films like Sam Mendes Empire of Light And Darren Aronofsky’s the whale.

It was Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical family drama Fablemans which won Toronto’s People’s Choice Award, predicting the recent best picture Nomadland And The Green Book. (Each of the last 10 winners in Toronto has been nominated for at least Best Picture, a remarkable streak.)

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

Banshee of Inshirin

British-Irish writer-director Martin McDonagh has built a cult following with his sometimes violent, darkly comedic crime narratives such as in Bruges (2008) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). So what if we told you that the banshees Is that the coolest thing he’s ever done? McDonagh misses the element of crime – unless suddenly deciding you no longer like your best friend/drinking buddy is (and should be) a crime, as is stubborn Colm (Brandon Gleeson) and in the case of poor Padraic (Colin Farrell). This charming, hilarious, moving and just bloody-enough gem features Pharrell’s best performance to date and infectious Irish dialogue that we wouldn’t be surprised to hear quoted. fargoMidwestern Jokes of. In other words, expect to hear the word “faking” a lot.

How/when you can watch it: In theaters on October 21

the causeway

Jennifer Lawrence’s second film after a short acting break from 2021’s Oscar-nominated satire is much quieter and less star-studded. Don’t look upBut it’s still going strong – not unlike 2010 winter bone, the drama that first put him on the map. Lawrence gives a startling performance as a brain-injured Afghanistan veteran who would rather face the ghosts of his past than anywhere else (or preferably, back in the Middle East) in his mother’s New Orleans home. ) must be. Brian Tyree is equally impressive as Henry the mechanic whose shared trauma creates a painful bond between the two.

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

Fablemans

Steven Spielberg, Phone Home? Starring Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as versions of his parents, and newcomer Gabrielle LeBelle as the filmmaker’s alter ego, Sammy, serious with his heavily autobiographical feature. becomes personal with And the Toronto crowd was (right) here for it. Riding a wave of critical acclaim and audience applause, Fablemans Handily won the festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award, often a harbinger of Oscar glory to come. But Spielberg was careful to focus on the film and not the awards race, commenting at a post-premiere Q&A that the film is first and foremost, “a way to bring back my mom and dad.” method.”

While Williams’ performance has already been praised, Fablemans The Fableman also features a memorable supporting turn from Seth Rogen as the 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 scenes. is And look for a hilarious cameo from David Lynch as legendary director John Ford, who offers some much-needed advice to the budding filmmaker. And no, it’s not: “The spice must flow.”

How/when you can watch it: In select theaters on November 11 before expanding nationwide on November 23

Glass onion: mystery out of a knife

Can Rian Johnson possibly top his incredible 2019 whodunit Knife out With this highly anticipated follow-up? The fact that he comes close is a victory in itself. Glass onions As star-studded (Edward Norton! Janelle Monae! Kate Hudson! Daniel Craig again, of course!) and then some brutally hilarious stabs at the rich, but it’s also a very classy affair, New England has a personal Except for Greek. An island full of technological gadgets. Most impressive, however, is how Johnson has once again crafted an impossibly complex murder mystery that has the comical fun of peeling back its layers — and maybe even making a few laugh out loud. .

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

The People’s Joker

Here is a breakout TIFF movie that will not Playing in a theater near you… at least, not yet. Vera Drew’s Batman-based confessional/experimental cinematic collage had a one-night only showing during the Midnight Madness program before the filmmaker pulled it from the festival amid pressure from DC Comics’ parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. The trance filmmaker has already made this promise The People’s Joker will screen again at future festivals, but it may not be the exact version that played at TIFF as she navigates copyright issues standing in the way of a wider release.

Make no mistake: The Joker may be in Arkham Asylum, but The People’s Joker Must be released from the prison of film. Drew’s wild vision uses the caped crusader and clown prince of crime as a jumping-off point for a highly personal exploration of gender identity and the biases of the comedy world, all filtered through a mixed-media pop-culture lens. has been done which carries the resonance. Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger and Todd Haynes. It’s the kind of boldly original vision you go to film festivals to discover, so here’s hoping other festival-goers get the same chance soon.

How/when you can watch it: We’re not sure yet, but our fingers are crossed for it The People’s Joker will come back

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

You didn’t expect a guy named “Weird Al” to make one normal Biopic will you do? What started out as a three-minute Funny or Die trailer in 2010 has become an original — and really funny — feature film in which ex-Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe takes on Al Yankovic’s collection of accordions and Hawaiian shirts. . UHF– Style Account of the Life and Times of the Composer. TIFF programmers chose wisely Weird: The Al Yankovic Story to kick off its Midnight Madness slate, and midnight audiences gave the film a hero’s welcome. Every stunt cameo, every scream from Yankovic and every music cue was greeted with cheers and applause — a clear sign that the Roku channel should seriously consider a limited theatrical release in addition to the film’s streaming premiere.

In addition to Radcliffe’s ambitious star turn, strange Evan also delivers a fall-down-funny performance from Rachel Wood as the kooky version of Material Girl. “I’ve loved Madonna since I was very young,” The Westworld The star said after the premiere of the film. “I knew it was an elevated version of Madonna and a social version, but I still wanted it to be good!” Meanwhile, his co-star described his intense accordion training regimen, overseen by Yankovic himself. “I did what I could,” Radcliffe said with typical British humility. “It’s a very difficult instrument – he makes it look so easy!”

How/when you can watch it: Streaming November 4th on Roku Channel

(Performance by Brandon Fraser) the whale

Let it never be said that Darren Aronofsky makes easily digestible films. After back-to-back premieres at Venice and Toronto, the whale It’s already one of the most buzzed about — and divisive — films of the fall. To be fair, everyone (including us) agrees that Brandon Fraser’s performance as a fat teacher who is eating himself to death in his shabby apartment , a career-best comeback performance that might very well bring. Mom The star received her first Oscar nomination and possibly a win. Apart from its leading man, the film also features excellent supporting acts stranger things Fan favorite Sadie Sink — who plays Fraser’s angsty teenage daughter — as well as Hong Chow, Samantha Morton and Ty Simpkins. But the opinions about it are very different the whale There is a sympathetic portrayal of an isolated man or an exercise in fatphobic humiliation.

You can expect the debate to continue like this the whale reaches its theatrical premiere in December – a powerful reminder of Aronofsky’s knack for pushing audience buttons. (See also: the fountain, black swan and, of course, Mother!) One thing’s for sure: You won’t be leaving the theater without a hot take of your own.

How/when you can watch it: In theaters on December 9

female king

It’s usually not a good sign when a film premieres at TIFF just days before its theatrical opening. well, female king bucked that trend. Gina Prince Blythewood’s action thriller is at once a throwback battle royale and a never-before-seen war movie, finding the Dahomey army of West African female warriors (led by an Oscar-worthy Viola Davis, we Stop if you’ve heard that before) fighting for freedom in the early 19th century slave trade. Despite generating some controversy about its historical accuracy, female king Still scored a kingly $19 million in its opening weekend in theaters to dominate last week’s box office.

How/when you can watch it: Now in theaters

Women talk

Canadian child star-turned-author Sarah Polley’s first feature film in a decade is also her fourth feature to have a TIFF premiere. Unsurprisingly, he had plenty of hometown support: Women talk It was the first runner-up for the People’s Choice award, which will be talked about as the awards conversation heats up. But there’s more to say about Polly’s nuanced and deeply moving adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 bestseller, which unfolds in a Bolivian Mennonite colony where the female population is debating whether rape and whether or not to leave after enduring a series of abuses. The male population of the community.

On the page, the narrative reads like the minutes of their extended meeting, while Polly’s deftly written script unfolds the story into a portrait of an entire community, populated by such magnetic actors as Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley. has gone As the clock ticks on their life-changing decision, Women talk It becomes a story of what one generation of women owes another—a message that resonates even more after the Supreme Court’s decision. Roe v. Wade upside down Not for nothing, but the film also boasts one of the best needle drops of the year as Polly cues “Daydream Believer” for a long sequence that offers something cheerful amidst the drama.

How/when you can watch it: December 2 in select theaters

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