Back to IndieWire

TIFF 2016: 33 Films From The Festival We’ve Already Seen

Not every film at TIFF is an unknown, here are 33 we've already caught elsewhere.

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this week, and with it, the rest of a very busy fall festival season. In preparation for the Canadian festival, we’ll be rolling out a series of previews to point you in the direction of all the movies you have to see (or at least, all the movies you have to start anticipating right now). Next up, a batch of features we’ve already seen — and can heartily recommend to an eager TIFF audience.

“Loving”

Loving

“Loving”

Focus Features

This year’s Cannes Film festival featured director Jeff Nichols’ latest historical drama “Loving.” Our own Eric Kohn’s review of the film highlights the performances and Nichols’ screenplay: “Nichols sets the stage for a soft-spoken narrative in which his actors’ faces tell the story. As Richard, Edgerton’s ideally cast to play a low key character less invested in grand statements than maintaining his private life. It’s Negga, however, who truly comes into her own as the movie’s agent of change. Her darting eyes speak volumes about a mounting drive to rectify the situation as their family expands to three children, even though she can’t fully put the process into words. That’s to the credit of Nichols’ elegant screenplay, which pares down the events so that the emphasis is taken off the legal proceedings and avoids any overdone speechifying. The movie belongs to the Lovings’ personal needs rather than the sweeping reform that emerged from it.”

“American Honey”

American Honey

“American Honey”

A24

Also at Cannes, Kohn praised Andrea Arnold’s skill as a director: “Arnold’s command of the movie’s meandering structure makes ‘American Honey’ continually fascinating, no matter how much it lingers on ephemeral exchanges and aimless feuds. It’s a magisterial achievement that builds on her previous accomplishments while stretching beyond the constraints of their cleaner narratives. The movie unfolds as a cyclical meditation on the search for meaning in an empty landscape that stretches out in every direction. Mercifully, she avoids any blatant self-analysis, letting her ineloquent cast do all the talking. ‘We explore, like… America,’ Jake says when he makes his initial pitch to Star. While on the surface that may sound like a half-baked conceit, ‘American Honey’ proves just how deep that exploration can go.”

“Snowden”

"Snowden"

“Snowden”

Oliver Stone’s latest real-life thriller was a focal point of at Comic-Con earlier this year. The real Edward Snowden actually appeared remotely and took questions. IndieWire got a chance to ask him what he thought of the film’s historical accuracy: “He responded that not much had been changed. While admitting that certain characters had been consolidated and details streamlined, Snowden admitted that the movie had its fact straight. ‘In terms of the actual issues,’ he said, ‘it’s pretty on the money.'”

“The Birth of a Nation”

Nate Parker The Birth of a Nation

“The Birth of a Nation”

One of the most talked about films of the year — for better or for worse — has been Nate Parker’s “Birth of a Nation.” At Sundance, Eric Kohn discussed the film’s formal qualities while also examining the film’s social importance: “While directly addressing the way the spiritually empowered Turner’s oratorical powers fueled his uprising, the line also reflects the project itself. Repurposing the title of D.W. Griffith’s infamously racist silent epic, Parker’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ is a sturdy, halfway decent piece of filmmaking, but it’s also a galvanizing statement.”

“Elle”

Elle Isabelle Huppert

“Elle”

Sony Pictures Classics

The French psychological thriller “Elle” from director Paul Verhoeven starring the talented French actress Isabelle Huppert first premiered at Cannes. Kohn praised the Huppert’s performance and the film’s narrative structure: “Huppert’s fierce turn and focused gaze remains at the center of the beguiling story, which offers more than one fascinating twist. Ninety minutes in, the rapist’s identity is revealed, which gives Verhoeven another 40 minutes to let Michéle figure out what she wants to do about it. The final act is the intellectual’s answer to ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ an ambitious statement about the ability to heal psychological wounds with violent sex.”

“The Handmaiden”

The Handmaiden

“The Handmaiden”

Amazon Studios

Park Chan-wook’s distinctive style is on display in his latest film “The Handmaiden.” In his review, Kohn wrote of the film: “Blending his typically elegant camerawork with macabre and sordid moments, Park unfurls this ambitious three-part noir across two-and-a-half hours of violent beatings, gleeful sexual deviance and, as if the filmmaker just can’t resist, a coda centered on mutilation. Such excess has been Park’s chief fixation since ‘Oldboy,’ but ‘Handmaiden’ marks the first time he applies it in the context of a sweeping historical odyssey.”

“Manchester By the Sea”

"Manchester By the Sea"

“Manchester By the Sea”

This much-anticipated film by Kenneth Lonergan has had critics buzzing for months now. Our own Eric Kohn praised the film’s genuine feel in his Sundance review of the film, “it’s Lonergan’s masterfully subtle writing, littered with awkward exchanges that speak far louder than any cohesive monologue, that gives ‘Manchester’ its humanity. Punctuated by disarming humor, many scenes are so raw with the nuances of human behavior that they border on documentary — and yet Lonergan remains in tight control of his narrative.”

“Paterson”

"Paterson"

“Paterson”

Amazon/Bleecker Street

Also at this year’s Cannes Film Festive was the premiere of indie pioneer Jim Jarmusch’s newest feature film, the Adam Driver-starring “Paterson.” Kohn’s review of the film highlights Jarmusch’s skill for dialogue and quiet pathos: “Carried by an appropriately low-key Adam Driver and Jarmusch’s casual genius for capturing offhand remarks, ‘Paterson’ is his most absorbing character study since ‘Broken Flowers’ — and far more grounded in real life. There’s no context necessary to recognize it as his most personal work.”

“Toni Erdmann”

"Toni Erdmann"

“Toni Erdmann”

At Cannes, Kohn praised German director Maren Ade’s ability to give life to the inane: “Ade deepens her efforts by committing long stretches of time to exploring the bored, frustrating cycle of work pressure that consumes Ines at every corner. While she asserts her independence when pushing her father away, these other scenes reinforce the sense of her world closing in. Her only semblance of romantic life involves a meaningless hotel room affair with her co-worker; beyond that, she has no apparent social life, or even the ability to engage in a casual conversation. Winfred’s ability to locate that problem and fight to become the support system she needs sets the stage for a fascinating psychological battle filled with odd twists.”

“Things to Come”

"Things to Come"

“Things to Come”

IFC

When our Tina Poglajen caught up with filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, she wrote: “With the story of a middle-aged philosophy teacher, Hansen-Løve draws on subjects from her own life once again: Her formative years with her parents, both of whom are professors of philosophy. Knowing her subject well, ‘Things to Come’ is imbued with the director’s characteristic brand of realism, as uncompromising in offering easy solutions as it is in giving in to conventional plot structures.”

“It’s Only the End of the World”

It's Only The End of the World

“It’s Only The End of the World”

Artificial Eye

At Cannes, IndieWire’s own Graham Winfrey caught up with director Xavier Dolan and the two discussed Dolan’s new film: “The writer-director called his latest movie ‘It’s Only the End of the World’ his best work to date. ‘That’s something you should always believe,’ Dolan said. ‘How can you move forward and proceed with things you’ve committed so much time to if you don’t think they’re the best?'” The film won Cannes’ Grand Jury Prize after a contentious premiere at the festival (in short, most people didn’t quite like it), but now that Dolan is back in his native Canada, he may find some more affection.

“Blair Witch”

"Blair Witch"

“Blair Witch”

Lionsgate

Many were caught off guard by the release of a brand new “Blair Witch.” However, the surprise horror film that was kept under wraps has been warmly received by critics leading many to speculated if this is the start of a franchise. Ben Travers wrote in his review: “Compared to the ill-fated ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’ — the first follow-up which was rushed to market for financial reasons — this new iteration still comes across as downright inspiring. [Adam] Wingard has gone about his sequel in a completely opposite fashion: Making it under a veil of secrecy and nearly two decades after the original debuted. More importantly, he’s done everything imaginable to hold true to the spirit of Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick’s creation; which also frames ‘Blair Witch’ as much like a reboot as it does a sequel.”

This Article is related to: Film and tagged ,