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25 Must-See Films At Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2019

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TIFF is a great pit-stop for a movie lover. It doesn’t just feature amazing lineups every year but also has certain films that eventually head away to the Oscars becoming the ultimate winners. Big films from Cannes and Berlin definitely find a place in the lineup but some new and exciting voices are also heard on TIFF’s special sections. This year, the must-see films at TIFF 2019 list feature a mix of films that I find to be the most exciting titles. Make sure you bookmark the list if the festival is holy to you:




1. A Hidden Life
Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Maria Simon, Tobias Moretti, Bruno Ganz

A searing exploration of the consequences of upholding one’s convictions in a time of terrifying upheaval, this latest work from Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) mines the themes of spirituality and engagement with the natural world that has permeated so much of the American auteur’s late-period renaissance. Set in Austria during the rise of the Third Reich, A Hidden Life relays a little-known true story of quiet heroism.




A hardworking farmer, pious Christian, and devoted husband and father, Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) is a respected member of his alpine village, St. Radegund. Franz’s Edenic existence begins to wither, however, as war breaks out across Europe, Nazi ideology spreads, and both the church and St. Radegund’s mayor start spouting antisemitic dogma. Franz undergoes military training but refuses to swear allegiance to Hitler. When called up for conscription, he becomes a conscientious objector — a decision that will test the limits of his beliefs.

Similar to Must-See Films At TIFF 2019 –  [Watch] A Hidden Life [2019] Trailer and read the synopsis

2. About Endlessness
Director: Roy Andersson
Cast: Martin Serner, Jessica Louthander, Tatiana Delaunay, Anders Hellström

Must See TIFF 2019

One of cinema’s most revered artists, Roy Andersson has created a peerless and influential body of work with films like Songs from the Second FloorYou, the Living, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. Utilizing a trompe-l’oeil technique and constructing his films as a series of eerie vignettes, Andersson makes films with a singular, haunting atmosphere. His somnambulant characters float ghostlike through the detailed landscapes he and his teams construct — afraid to engage with one another or lost in grief, confusion, and metaphysical angst — with scenes often culminating in absurdist, awkward humor.




These vignettes document our lack of awareness. We reduce the monumental to the quotidian or elevate the quotidian to the monumental: a pastor who has lost his faith shows up to a psychiatrist demanding a session, only to be told the office is closing and the doctor has to catch a train, while a woman’s broken shoe takes on near-tragic significance. This effect is underscored in the film by an imperious narrator who habitually states the obvious yet manages to sound as portentous and apocalyptic as the narrator of The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Also Related to Must-See Film At TIFF 2019 – [WATCH] VIDEO ESSAY DRAWS PARALLEL BETWEEN THE WORKS OF WES ANDERSON & ROY ANDERSSON

3. Ema
Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Mariana di Girolamo

Venice Film Festival 2019

Set in the scenic seaport city of Valparaíso, the latest from Pablo Larraín — whose Oscar-nominated Jackie won the Festival’s Platform Prize in 2016 — reunites the visionary Chilean auteur with Mexican superstar Gael García Bernal (who last appeared in the festival with the Mexican crime drama ‘Museo’) for an incendiary drama about art, desire, and family.




Ema (Mariana di Girolamo) is a talented young dancer whose roots lie in the carnal reggaetón grooves she and her friends perform to in the city streets, but she’s forged a career as part of a more cerebral modern-dance ensemble helmed by her husband, choreographer Gastón (García Bernal, also at the Festival as director of Chicuarotes).

Also, Read – 15 Must-See Films at the Venice Film Festival 2019

4. Ford v Ferrari
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Catriona Balfe

Must See TIFF 2019

Racing cars for a living may be a noble pursuit or absolute folly but it sure as hell is exciting. In this follow-up to his superb Marvel reinvention, Logan, director James Mangold tells the tale of real-life superheroes Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. Mavericks of the first order, Shelby and Miles commandeered the resources of the mighty Ford Motor Company in the 1960s to go head-to-head with the gods of Italian auto racing. With standout performances from Matt Damon and Christian Bale, this story makes for one of the most electrifying films of the year.




Shelby (Damon) wins France’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1959, a rare feat for an American. But a weak heart valve stops his career cold, pushing him out of the driver’s seat. Miles (Bale) is terrible at running an auto shop but he’s a brilliant driver. When Lee Iacocca (Jon Bernthal) comes looking to burnish Ford’s family brand with some fast-car sizzle, Shelby and Miles stand as the perfect team to build and race a true competitor to Enzo Ferrari (Remo Girone), who seems to win as easily as he downs an espresso. But can two hot-headed startup guys work with a corporate titan to grab road racing’s ultimate prize?

Related to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – [Watch] Ford v Ferrari: Christian Bale and Matt Damon Teams Up In This Exciting New Trailer

5. Frankie
Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, Jérémie Renier

Must See TIFF 2019

With its idyllic setting and glorious ensemble of international stars — among them Oscar nominees Isabelle Huppert and Greg Kinnear, Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (also at the Festival in Human Capital), and three-time Golden Globe nominee Brendan Gleeson — the latest from director Ira Sachs (Little Men) beguiles from the onset. But just below its veneer of charming characters navigating romantic entanglements and quaint village pathways is a somber musing about family, mortality, and the myriad ways we come to know ourselves by reaching out to others.




Frankie (Huppert), a famous film and television actress, has summoned a league of loved ones to join her for a holiday in Sintra, Portugal, renowned for its sprawling gardens, handsome villas, and healing waters. The attendees include her current and former husbands (Gleeson and Pascal Greggory, respectively), her chronically single son Paul (Jérémie Renier), her unhappily married daughter Sylvia (Vinette Robinson), and Sylvia’s adolescent daughter Maya (Sennia Nanua), who wants as little to do with the occasion as possible. The family is joined by Frankie’s old friend Irene (Tomei), a film-set hairstylist who Frankie hopes to set up with Paul — through Irene’s current beau, Hollywood cinematographer Gary (Kinnear), might have something to say about that.

Also, Read – LITTLE MEN [2016]: OF LOST INNOCENCE AMIDST MATURE FOLKS

6. Guest of Honour
Director: Atom Egoyan
Cast: David Thewlis, Laysla De Oliveira, Luke Wilson, Rossif Sutherland

For many years, Atom Egoyan has been read (or misread) as a primarily cerebral filmmaker, when the fact is that all of his films are propelled by deeply felt emotional traumas, and his characters’ corresponding inability to work through them. His new film, Guest of Honour— which is driven by a memorable and moving turn by David Thewlis — shares many significant tropes with his breakthrough early films, most notably a protagonist who, while professionally charged with protecting society, is undergoing personal turmoil that prevents him from fulfilling his duty.




Thewlis plays Jim, a health inspector whose daughter, Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira), has recently been convicted of a crime. Although Jim is certain that she isn’t guilty, his efforts to reduce her sentence are hampered by her intransigent refusal to cooperate with him. Despairing, Jim lashes out through his work, pursuing neglectful restaurateurs with a vigor we first assume to be dedication, but soon realize is far more than professional zeal.

7. Honey Boy
Director: Alma Har’el
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, FKA twigs

Must See TIFF 2019

A heart-piercing portrait of childhood trauma and adult self-renewal, Honey Boy marks the auspicious screenwriting debut of Shia LaBeouf. Sensitively directed by Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach), who makes her fiction feature debut, the film, while not explicitly autobiographical, mirrors the life of its author in a myriad of ways, as it follows an actor’s struggle to come to terms with his experiences growing up with an abusive father. In a clever casting move, LeBeouf himself — last at TIFF with 2017’s Borg vs. McEnroe— plays that father, with both menace and empathy.




Honey Boy opens with twenty-something Otis (Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges, also at TIFF ’19 with Waves) suffering a car crash while shooting a blockbuster spectacle. During recovery, a counselor (Laura San Giacomo) suggests Otis may be experiencing PTSD. Then we flashback to a 12-year-old Otis (A Quiet Place‘s Noah Jupe), living in a seedy motel with his father, James (LaBeouf), a war veteran, ex-rodeo clown, and recovering alcoholic currently working as a roadside trash collector. Envious of Otis’ acting success and resentful that his son has become the family breadwinner, James subjects Otis to insults, cruelty, and violence.

8. I was at Home, But
Director: Angela Schanelec
Cast: Maren Eggert, Franz Rogowski, Clara Möller, Jakob Lassalle

Winner of the Best Director prize at this year’s Berlinale, the latest feature by Angela Schanelec confirms the German auteur’s status as one of today’s most singular cinematic voices. Its title a nod to Yasujiro Ozu’s 1932 classic I Was Born, But…, Schanelec’s film sets its puzzle-piece narrative in motion with the return of 13-year-old Phillip (Jakob Lassalle), whose unaccountable week-long disappearance in the wilderness has rattled his mother Astrid (played with quiet intensity by Schanelec regular Maren Eggert).




As with Schanelec’s previous films, including the Wavelengths 2016 standout The Dreamed Path, I Was at Home, But… oscillates between precision and enigma, headiness and sensuality as it chronicles Astrid’s newly triggered anxieties through an episodic narrative that includes a school production of Hamlet(with Phillip as the lead), a moonlit visit to a graveyard set to a haunting rendition of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” and a borderline absurd subplot related to the purchase of a used bicycle.

Similar to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – I Was at Home, But [2019] – ‘Berlin’ Review

9. Jojo Rabbit
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

In a series of deft, groundbreaking comedies, Taika Waititi took sharp left turns into coming-of-age stories (Boy), vampire movies (What We Do in the Shadows), and even our sacred superheroes (Thor: Ragnarok). Now he brings his half-Maori, half-Jewish, fully skewed sensibilities to his most daring film yet. A dazzling takedown of fascist thinking and the violence it fuels, Jojo Rabbitbegins in biting satire but delivers surprising emotional impact.




Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a precocious kid in World War II Germany with an egregious blind spot. Socially awkward, but a proud member of the Hitler Youth, Jojo passes much of his time with his imaginary friend Adolf (Waititi), a cuddly, energetic, pep-talking version of the Führer. Having completely bought into Nazi hate, Jojo is incensed when he discovers that his mother (Scarlett Johansson, also at the Festival in Marriage Story) has been working for the resistance, helping to keep safe the Jewish people he’s been taught to hate. With Germany on the brink of collapse, he is faced with the choice of clinging to his hateful beliefs or embracing his humanity.

10. Joker
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

New Images From Joker

Shocking in its originality and intensity, Joker is a game-changer for so-called comic book movies. Showcasing a fully-immersed performance from Joaquin Phoenix and a new vision of world-building, Todd Phillips’ latest is an unsettling, exciting portrait of the villain we thought we knew.




Phillips and Scott Silver’s original screenplay isn’t an adaptation of any previous part of the DC Comics canon, though its reference points will reward fans. The setting is 1981 Gotham City, inspired by New York of the same era, so mythologized on film for its color, crime, and corruption.

Related to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – New Images from Todd Phillips’s Joker

11. Lucy in the Sky
Director: Noah Hawley
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Colman Domingo

As astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) gazes at Earth from afar while on a mission, her view of the pale blue dot profoundly shifts her entire perspective. When she returns, all Lucy wants is to go back to space — no matter what. Her modest family life loses its allure and the comforting support of her gentle husband Drew (Dan Stevens) is suddenly less appealing than the masculine charisma of a fellow astronaut, Mark (Jon Hamm), a divorcee disconcertingly eager to encourage an affair. As she determinedly trains for her next mission, her growing dissociation threatens to dismantle both her personal and professional lives.




Portman brings a fiery energy to a remarkably complex protagonist, whose existential crisis feels as likely to be headed towards a potential meltdown as self-liberation. Stevens and Hamm are perfect as a pair of contrastively passive and assertive men — one whose feet are firmly on the ground and the other with his head in the clouds. Ellen Burstyn (also at the Festival in American Woman), Zazie Beetz (at the Festival in Joker and Seberg), Nick Offerman, and Tig Notaro round out an incredible supporting cast.

12. Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda

Venice Film Festival

Revisiting some of the themes that made his Oscar-nominated TIFF 2005 selection The Squid and the Whale so resonant, writer-director Noah Baumbach digs deep into a divorce with Marriage StoryAdam Driver and Scarlett Johansson — the former also at TIFF this year with The Reportthe latter with Jojo Rabbit — deliver some of their richest work as a couple whose once enviable union crumbles under the weight of mounting resentments and divergent needs.




Charlie (Driver) is a playwright who wants to stay in New York. Nicole (Johansson) is an actor who’s landed a coveted television role that requires her to relocate to Los Angeles. Their geographical dispute tests an already strained relationship. As Marriage Story begins, the couple’s divorce is already underway, with each enlisting legal squads deploying various tactics.

Similar to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – Every Noah Baumbach Film Ranked

13. Motherless Brooklyn
Director: Edward Norton
Cast: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale

Must See TIFF 2019

Widely acclaimed as one of his generation’s finest actors, Edward Norton proves his skill behind the camera in this inventive crime saga. Marked by a deep sense of place and compelling performances from a cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Willem Dafoe (also at the Festival in The Lighthouse), Motherless Brooklyn is an offbeat detective story in which the hero seeks both to solve a murder and illuminate his own origins.




As young orphans, Lionel Essrog (Norton) and his three closest friends were taken under the wing of Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Minna would send the boys on enigmatic errands, imbuing them with street smarts, attitude, and a sense of purpose. Those four boys became the Minna Men, an ersatz detective agency and limo service. When Minna is shot and left for dead, Lionel determines to solve this crime, plunging him into a Brooklyn underworld riddled with colorful characters, some possibly enemies passing as old friends. As his quest for truth leads him further up New York’s ladder of power, Lionel’s investigation is complicated by his Tourette syndrome, which leaves him prone to compulsive behavioral tics and inappropriate verbal outbursts.

14. My Zoe
Director: Julie Delpy
Cast: Julie Delpy, Daniel Brühl, Gemma Arterton, Richard Armitage

Must See TIFF 2019

The seventh feature by writer-director-actor Julie Delpy, My Zoe is unlike anything she has done before. Far from the garrulous relationship comedies for which she is known, this mother-daughter suspense drama is an impressive feat of storytelling, with genuinely surprising yet convincing thriller twists.




The film begins rather benignly, though not without bitterness, sadness, and some discombobulation, as Isabelle (Delpy), recently divorced, struggles to co-parent her daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally) with her ex, James (Richard Armitage), while still reeling from the aftershocks of their toxic marriage. Judging by their accents, she’s French and he’s British, though they live — and juggle Zoe — in Berlin, because of James’ career. Isabelle is an accomplished scientist on the verge of landing a major job when tragedy strikes and she takes matters into her own hands in a near-unfathomable way.

15. Pain and Glory
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Cast: Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano, Antonio Banderas

Must See TIFF 2019 - Pain and Glory

A deeply personal work from one of the world’s foremost filmmakersPain and Glory is pure Almodóvar: inventive and irreverent, poignant and exhilarating. Chronicling the existential odyssey of a filmmaker confronting the autumn of his life, the Spanish auteur’s 21st feature immerses us in the thrall of memory (and the fleeting bliss of narcotics) while celebrating art as a balm for the burdens of mortality.




Afflicted with creative stagnancy and a cluster of physical ailments, Salvador (Antonio Banderas, who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes and who is also at the Festival in The Laundromat) finds himself drifting into uncharted waters when a revival screening of his controversial classic Sabor reunites him with that film’s star, Alberto (Asier Etxeandia).

Similar to Must-See Films At TIFF 2019 – 10 Must-See Films At the Cannes Film Festival 2019

16. Parasite
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam

A glorious success and smashing box office hit for Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho — who returns home after his foreign adventures in Snowpiercer and Okja — the Palme d’Or– winning Parasite is a politically charged cinematic wonder.




Described by Bong himself as “a comedy without clowns and a tragedy without villains,” the film moves quickly from one tone to another, mixing pathos and satire with thrills and drama, in a perfectly controlled blend of many different genres. The film has left the internet baffled – which is currently rigged with spoilers (in spite of the director’s plea) with its intense narrative turns and audacity to entertain and enlighten.

Related to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 –  Every Joon-Ho Bong Film Ranked

17. Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami, Valeria Golino

Must See TIFF 2019

Winner of both the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay awards at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the fourth feature from French writer-director Céline Sciamma (TIFF ’14’s Girlhood) is an exquisite portrait of hidden love, art, eros… and the gaze.




Set in 18th-century Brittany, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows Marianne (Noémie Merlant), an artist commissioned by an Italian noblewoman (Valeria Golino) to paint a portrait of her reclusive daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel, also at the Festival in Deerskin), who is soon to be married.

Related to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – Interview with Celine Sciamma – Director of “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

18. Synchronic
Director: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan

When New Orleans paramedics and close friends Steve (Anthony Mackie, also at the Festival with Seberg) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan, also at the Festival with Endings, Beginnings) arrive on the scene for what seems like a typical overdose, they end up stumbling upon a bizarre plot that will take them down a most unexpected path.




The common denominator in a series of grisly, drug-related deaths is a synthetic narcotic known as synchronic, which has some extreme side effects that don’t just alter consciousness. When Dennis’ teenage daughter (Ally Ioannides) tries synchronic and goes missing, Steve, who was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, aims to discover the truth behind the killer drug and inadvertently sets off on a journey to find her — one that leaves him reckoning with his own identity. In what is either a bad trip or a breakthrough, Steve dives deeper and deeper, coming face to face with his place in history as well as the present.

19. Sorry We Missed You
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Kris Hitchen, Debbie Honeywood, Rhys Stone, Katie Proctor

Must See TIFF 2019

Now in his sixth decade of filmmaking, Ken Loach has become something of a cinematic institution even as his films continue to boldly criticize institutions, often depicting how working-class people can be caught in the gears of systemic exploitation. His latest is a captivating and compassionate portrait of a family who sacrifices nearly all they have for the uncertain promise of independence. Ricky (Kris Hitchen) is a former construction worker who lost his job and home in the 2008 financial crash. Eager to make a go at being his own boss, he takes a quasi-freelance delivery gig, though it means punishing hours, working under a ruthless manager, and making a substantial investment upfront.




Ricky convinces his wife, Abbie (Debbie Honeywood), a home-care nurse, to sell her car in order to buy the van he needs for the job. Complications mount as Ricky starts to discover the harsh realities of supposedly autonomous labor, his son Seb (Rhys Stone) courts trouble in his new-found, semi-politicized vocation as a graffiti artist, and the family’s hopes of getting ahead seem only to drag them further behind.

Similar to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – [Watch] Sorry We Missed You Trailer: Ken Loach Returns with another hard-hitting drama

20. The Laundromat
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Melissa Rauch

Steven Soderbergh’s kinetic dramatization of the Panama Papers exposé is part network narrative, part faux-entrepreneurial infomercial, part true-crime epic. Adapted from Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jake Bernstein’s Secrecy World by frequent Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns — also at the Festival with his own directorial effort, The Report— The Laundromat stars Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Jeffrey Wright, and Antonio Banderas as key players in an intricate worldwide web of greed and injustice, corruption and comeuppance.




Having been denied compensation after losing her husband in a ferry accident, middle-class retiree Ellen Martin (Streep) embarks on a personal investigation into the chain of insurance companies inexplicably dodging her claim. As a virtual paper trail leads Ellen to various far-flung locales, we are introduced to a rogue’s gallery of supporting players — money launderers, organ traffickers, baffled bureaucrats, imploding families, and deadly narcotraficantes— each navigating micro-dramas of their own.

21. The Lighthouse
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson

After having spooked audiences into a delicious frenzy with his much-lauded feature debut The Witch (TIFF ’15), director Robert Eggers returns to the Festival with this chillingly intimate tale of two men sequestered on a tiny — and perhaps enchanted — Atlantic isle.




Charged with tending to a lighthouse for a four-week term, the taciturn Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) spends his days toiling away with backbreaking upkeep, while during the nights it is only his elder cohort Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe, also at the Festival in Motherless Brooklyn) who is allowed to keep the beacon in operation. Growing weary of menial tasks, Ephraim’s curiosity regarding Thomas’ hours alone with the big light burgeons. But is it just fatigue and envy that cause Ephraim to become increasingly paranoid about the loitering seagulls, to the point where he’s visited by strange apparitions?

Related to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 –  The Lighthouse First Look

22. The Truth
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, Ethan Hawke

The Truth Venice

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s follow-up to his Palme d’Or–winning Shoplifters transports the Japanese auteur’s ongoing engagement with the machinations of the family to Paris, where a tempestuous mother-daughter reunion becomes an opportunity to explore questions of love, art, and responsibility. Kore-eda’s first film made outside his native Japan also provides an opportunity to bring together two acclaimed French actors, Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, who, along with Ethan Hawke, lead an exquisite ensemble through a story that feels at once absolutely French and absolutely Kore-eda.




Septuagenarian screen legend Fabienne (Deneuve) is charismatic and fiercely talented. She has always prioritized her work above all else. The publication of Fabienne’s memoir precipitates a visit from her long-estranged daughter Lumir (Binoche), a screenwriter, along with Lumir’s actor husband, Hank (Hawke), and their daughter. When Fabienne’s assistant suddenly resigns, Lumir agrees to take over his position just as Fabienne begins work on a science-fiction film. As the women struggle through confrontations on and off set, the contents of Fabienne’s memoir, along with peculiar parallels between the new film and Fabienne’s life, trigger the re-emergence of long-buried resentments.

Similar to Must-See Films at TIFF 2019 – The Truth (2019) ‘Venice’ Review – Film Lives and Endless Lies

23. Uncut Gems
Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Cast: Adam Sandler, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett

Must See TIFF 2019

Returning to the screen with a pulse-pounding crime comedy, directing duo brothers Josh and Benny Safdie (Good TimeHeaven Knows What) tell the story of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a charismatic and slippery jeweller. Howard is determined to prove himself a champion in his day-to-day life, and he idolizes his client list of famous athletes procured for him by his middleman, Demany (LaKeith Stanfield, also at the Festival in Knives Out). Ever scheming, Howard intends to sell a mined chunk of rock full of embedded gems at auction — after it’s shipped to him from Ethiopia inside a fish carcass. If he can navigate his way through marital problems, girlfriend problems, imaginatively vicious debt collectors, and his unquenchable desire to be close to success, he might just have a clear shot at winning.




Sandler commands the screen with such a nuanced performance that it’s like Howard has been sewn into his skin. He juggles the film’s uneasy comedy with a sense of imbued optimism, one that keeps him in trouble but also keeps everyone around Howard — including the audience — rooting for him.

24. Waves
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Kelvin Harrison Jr, Lucas Hedges, Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Neal Huff

The future is bright for Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who seems to have everything he needs: a wealthy family to support him, a spot on the high-school wrestling team, and a girlfriend (Alexa Demie) he’s head over heels in love with. Committed to greatness and under intense scrutiny from his father (Sterling K. Brown), Tyler spends his mornings and nights training. But when pushed to the limit, cracks in the perfect façade of Tyler’s existence start to show, and the stage is set for a true American tragedy.




While from a macro view, the story might seem simple, Waves is anything but. Structurally ambitious and thoughtfully bold, director Trey Edward Shults’ (Krisha, It Comes at Night) third feature is so carefully populated with relatable details that you get immersed in the world, hanging on for the ride as it takes you to unexpected storytelling places. Featuring an ensemble of searingly spot-on performances and full of evocative imagery, the film grabs you tight and never let’s go. Conceived in collaboration with his lead actor, this deeply personal film is tough on the outside, tender when it needs to be, and never anything less than completely audacious. Ever the experiential filmmaker, Shults bathes the film in lush visuals and a moody, pulsating soundtrack from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, placing the audience inside the characters’ perspectives in a lurid manner that echoes Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, while employing that sense of palpable filmmaking in a very different milieu. Vibrant and conductive, Waves is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

25. Weathering With You
Director: Makoto Shinkai
Cast: Kotaro Daigo, Nana Mori

Hailed as the new Miyazaki, talented writer-director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) returns to the screen with a daring, visually stunning story of two teenagers taking on an ultra-modern world on their own terms.




An old tale taken from Japan’s ancient Shinto myths and projected onto a bleak near-future of floods, pollution, and global warming, Weathering With You follows the difficult lives of a runaway and a lonely girl who has recently lost her mother.

Similar to Must-See Films At TIFF 2019 – Weathering With You (2019) Review: Love and the Outcome

The TIFF 2019 boosts an interesting lineup and the entire schedule can be found here. It can be done by both having a TIFF membership or just buying tickets for the 2019 edition. The TIFF Bell Lightbox events also feature a few restored version including a special screening of Bresson’s masterpiece ‘Pickpocket.’

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