TIFF 2018 Showcases Serious Award Season Competition

From Sept. 6 – Sept. 16, 2018, Toronto International Film Festival showcased a selection films at the biggest film festival of fall in Toronto, Canada.

TIFF 2018 premiered over 300 films in which few of them are surefire Oscar frontrunners, seizing the attention of audiences and distribution companies alike and making for a promising award season ahead.

Roma, a story of two workers coming to the aid of a mother of four during 1970s Mexico, is directed by Alfonso Cuarón and earned the top prize at the film festival. An amazing feat for the picture as its distributor is Netflix; it’s only Academy Award win was in Best Documentary for Icarus, a documentation of Russia’s history with athletic doping.

Furthermore, Cannes Film Festival banned Netflix from screening it’s films at the annual festival on account of its films weren’t available in cinemas. A-list director Steven Spielberg expressed his attitude towards the streaming service saying “Netflix movies deserve Emmy’s, not Oscars.” This time around, the Mexican film academy selected Roma for its Best Foreign Film entry.

Cuarón, the mind behind Children of Men and Y Tu Mamá También, establishes himself as a distinguished filmmaker once again with Roma. After conquering the Venice Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival, fellow Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins took to Twitter during TIFF to speak on the director’s “operating at peak performance level on such a personal, vigorous piece.”

Among Cuarón is La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s follow up to the Academy Award nominated film, First Man. The picture depicts Neil Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling, and NASA’s journey to the Apollo 11 mission, where audiences were shocked to see that the iconic planting of the American flag on the moon wasn’t included in the film and ultimately generated right-wing backlash, including from conservative Marco Rubio, who found the film “anti-American”. Chazelle, in an interview with Collider said his decision to exclude the flag planting from a feeling that it was more of a human accomplishment rather than just an American one and stands by it.

First Man endures through praise by Rick and Mark Armstrong, the first man’s sons, in a statement released amid backlash. Gosling brings his most contained role, besides a jarring reveal of the sacrifices the Apollo team and their families made following the landing, Chazelle and cinematographer give First Man it’s due diligence in sequences with some of the most evocative imagery this year yet.

French director Claire Denis returned to TIFF with her very own space expedition entitled High LifeGood Time star Robert Pattinson recalled reaching out to Denis when he sat down with The Hollywood Reporter, no easy task, and an undertaking that took them years to see it’s true fruition.

Denis is predominantly recognized for her captivating dramas and gentle displays of emotion in films like White Material and Beau Travail. What would become of their meeting is the birth of High Life, her first English language picture that takes a spaceship boarding criminals that are being led into a black hole. For a reported “low seven figures”, her latest premiere at TIFF earned her a distribution deal with A24, the fearless production and distribution company behind Academy Award nominated films Ladybird and Moonlight.

In her acting debut, Stefani Germanotta, also known by her stage name Lady Gaga, wonderstruck audiences in A Star is Born, the fourth reboot of a story that first graced the silver screen in 1937, 1957, and 1978. A Star is Born takes audiences on a journey with two musicians who eventually fall in love but are ultimately challenged when one rises to fame and the other descends. In spite of majority rave reviews, few critics like rogerebert.com found only the first hour pleasing. Rolling Stone begs to differ, calling Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut “damn near perfect” for a storyline with an arc told time after time, above all after three previous treatments.

Other notable pictures screened at TIFF 2018 included a Felix Van Groeningen’s adaptation of David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy, Jonah Hill’s directing debut Mid90s, and Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk.

Films outside of the festival like Spike Lee’s adaptation of Ron Stallworth’s Black Klansman, Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy, Ari Aster’s Hereditary, and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade have also made their mark earlier this year, giving TIFF frontrunners a run for their money.

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