TIFF 2017: Best and Noteworthy Films — Julide Tanriverdi comments

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tiff logoIt’s the one question that people keep asking you after you return from a film festival: Which movie did you like best? That is obviously not always easy to answer since there is a vast selection (this year TIFF showed more than 200 films). I was able to watch only 21 of them within a week. These are my personal picks. Continue reading…

SIMPLY THE BEST

It’s a toss-up for me between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri. These movies are vastly different from each other which is why I cannot make up my mind which one I prefer:

The Shape of Water is, in a nutshell, a classic Guillermo del Toro movie. It tells the story of mute cleaning lady Eliza (Sally Hawkins) crossing paths with an amphibious creature who is being held captive by some military-type bad guys. If Hellboy and The Creature of the Blue Lagoon had a baby, it would be this movie (the creature reminds me of Abe Sapiens anyway). Richard Jerkins and Octavia Spencer play Eliza’s friends. It’s romantic, poetic, cute and also weird. Absolutely sublime, do not miss this one.

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri on the other hand is an incredibly well-written, equally moving and entertaining movie. Frances McDormand shines as a grieving, but very angry mother whose daughter has been raped and brutally killed. Since there were no arrests made in seven months, she decides to buy the three billboards outside of town and writes a message to the police – directed mainly at the local police head Chief Willoughby (Woody Harrelson). Everyone becomes outraged at her, especially police Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell). To be honest, I don’t want to tell you more since you MUST watch this movie. British-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh gives all three actors amazing stuff to play with and they deliver. This movie also won the audience award at TIFF – usually a sure sign that it will be among the Best picture nominees at the Oscars and other awards presentations.

THE MOST DELICIOUS

Call Me By Your Name. Ignore the ridiculous homophobic tweets from people about this movie. This film is based on a book by Andre Aciman and is a lovely, sensitive love story between two men. Armie Hammer plays an intern to a Professor (Michael Stuhlbarg, who was applauded by the audience for a special monologue towards the end of the movie) in Italy who has a 17 year old son (Timothee Chalamet). And the two men hook up. But really it is about first love and the movie captures that experience like a sweet summer love. Director Luca Guadagnino does a really good job of not being too sentimental or kitschy. Which is why this movie has been talked about since Sundance.

THE MOST SURPRISING

Disobedience. This movie by Chilean director Sebastián Lelio (this is his first English language film) tackles a lot of issues: Ronit (Rachel Weisz),who works as a photographer in New York, returns home to London for her father’s funeral. She has been estranged and has kept her distance from the Orthodox Jewish community she was raised in. They in return do not see her in a very favorable way, to say the least. Only her best friend Esti (Rachel McAdams), who is married to another friend of hers, seems to be welcoming. The two women have a personal past which now gets reignited. Both actresses are equally impressive in their performances and the movie gives a fascinating look at the lives of Orthodox Jews.

THE MOST ENTERTAINING

I, Tonya. Even if you do not remember or know all the details of real life story of ice skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, and their big ass tabloid scandal from the 90s, this movie will still amuse and entertain you to bits. Margot Robbie plays Tonya and Sebastian Stan plays her husband Jeff Gilooly who may or may not be part of the scheme to get rid of her ice skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan. Director Craig Gillespie opens his movie with the line “based on irony-free, wildly contradictory interviews” which is why the film also ends up being exactly like a tabloid story. Allison Janney kills it here as the mean mom. stealing every scene she is in. The dialogue is foul-mouthed and, overall. hilarious.

THE BEST SUBTITLED MOVIE

Shuttle Life. This first feature by Malaysian director Tang Seng Kiat really hits you hard. It tells the story of Zi, a young man who is caring for his mentally ill mother and his six-year-old sister. They live in poverty and Zi (Jack Tan) has no job – so he and his friends steal parts of motorcycles and sells them. After a tragic event, his life unravels even more and we get to see how desperately bleak his situation really is. Tang Seng Kiat won the Asian New Talent Award and truly deserves it.

THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT:

The Current War. Oh dear. Even film’s the stellar cast — with Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon and Nicholas Hoult in the leads — couldn’t save this mess of a production by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. It is a movie about the race to bring electricity to New York and focuses on the great battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse during the industrial age, yet there is zero spark. Sorry Cumberpeople, I know the truth is hard, but just re-watch an episode or two of Sherlock instead.

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