SAINT MAUD – TIFF19 Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

As the only woman-directed film in TIFF’s iconic Midnight Madness program in 2019, the world premiere of Saint Maud demonstrates British director and screenwriter Rose Glass’s flair for horror with this extraordinarily powerful feature film debut.

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BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON – Review by Brandy McDonnell

Writer-director Paul Downs Colaizzo makes his feature film debut with the crowd-pleasing comedy, which won an audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. A playwright, he based the movie on his real-life best friend, which may account for the fact that it dodges easy answers and superficial uplifts in favor of a story that’s more meaningful, humorous and true-to-life.

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JUDY – TIFF19 Review by Loren King

Among the nearly 250 movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent foreign films, that screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, one of my favorites was Judy, anchored by an astonishing performance by Renee Zellweger. In her first musical performance since Chicago, Zellweger delivers a comeback role for the ages that puts her at the front of this year’s best actress Oscar race.

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DISCO – TIFF19 Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

While it’s far too easy to get swept up in the big name, red carpet glitz of a festival the scale of the Toronto International Film Festival, the real treasures are often tucked away beyond the limelight. As with last year, the Festival’s Discovery program whose mission is to identify and champion “directors to watch” as “the future of world cinema” in 2019 again provided a home for some of the festival’s most exciting movies.

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DOWNTON ABBEY – Review by Susan Granger

If you’re an avid fan of PBS’ dramatic series Downton Abbey, you’ll relish this big-screen version. Working with screenwriter James Fellowes, director Michael Engler manages to give all the characters their own mini-crisis and catharsis, involving proper manners and utmost civility, drawing on the trials and tribulations of England’s inherent class system, which exists despite anti-monarchist grumbles.

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RIOT GIRLS – Review by Sheila Roberts

Jovanka Vuckoic’s stylish direction, Kathrine Collins’ solid tale of female empowerment, Madison Iseman and Paloma Kwiatkowski’s convincing chemistry, spot-on musical selections that drive the film’s themes and action, and the strong contributions of a largely female production crew make Riot Girls a fun, cathartic and entertaining experience.

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DOWNTON ABBEY – Review by Leslie Combemale

You don’t really know the fans of Downton Abbey until you sit in a darkened theater as the first strains of the theme song start playing, to a bust of applause, and even a few gasps. Thus begins the feature film that feels like its only raison d’etre is to tie all the storylines and character arcs into big, flouncy bows, of the kind one sees on the back of a bejeweled 20s-era frock.

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