On the surface, “Anomalisa” and “Spotlight” don’t have much in common. One is a genre-blending, partly-animated enigma of a story, while the other is a tightly-crafted ensemble piece with recent historical roots.
Yet, these are the two films that ended up the critical favorites of TIFF 2015, according to our annual survey of writers covering this year’s festival. Outside of that top pair, these collected results feature a number of films riding on a wave of approval that began in Telluride at the beginning of the month.
The Best Feature, Best Director and Best Screenplay all shared an overall top four (in the same order!), with the “Anomalisa” team of Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson at the top, followed by “Spotlight” and a fully rebounded Tom McCarthy. Lenny Abrahamson and “Room” finished third, with Andrew Haigh and “45 Years” picking up right where the writer/director and film left off at Berlin back in February.
The documentary that grabbed the most headlines going into the festival ended up being the one that grabbed the attention of most critics. Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” finished as the Best Documentary, the only film in the category to appear on ten or more different ballots. “Thru You Princess” (which Indiewire’s Eric Kohn described as “a distinctive twenty-first century narrative entirely mandated by the tools of new media”) finished right behind. Laurie Anderson’s “Heart of a Dog” and Kent Jones’ treat for cinephiles “Hitchcock/Truffaut” rounded out the top quartet among the non-fiction ranks.
Even though it’s not slated for a theatrical release until 2016, “The Witch” is still having an awfully impressive year. After wowing crowds at Sundance, the colonial psychological thriller easily laid claim to the Best First Feature prize at TIFF. Of the films that premiered at the fest, “Truth” scored highest in the category for James Vanderbilt’s first effort in the director’s chair.
While Brie Larson took Telluride by storm, Toronto belonged to Charlotte Rampling. Her work in “45 Years” as a woman trying to deal with the reappearance of her husband’s former love outpaced all others in Best Lead Performance. Together, Larson and Rampling were their own separate tier, each earning twice as many points as any other actor.
The largest margin in any individual category was in the Best Ensemble tally, where the “Spotlight” crew easily claimed top honors. It’s no surprise then that a member of that ensemble, Mark Ruffalo, ended up at the top of the Best Supporting Performance list as well. From the international realm, “Son of Saul” continues to be the standout, with Géza Röhrig’s central performance cracking the top five and László Nemes & Clara Royer’s script appearing on multiple ballots.
To see the full results, including links to critics’ individual picks, visit the survey homepage here.