TIFF 2015: Highlights, Hits & Misses

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 15:  (L-R) Actors Jacob Tremblay,  Brie Larson and Joan Allen attend the "Room" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 15, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 15: (L-R) Actors Jacob Tremblay, Brie Larson and Joan Allen attend the “Room” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on September 15, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

Another year has wrapped for one of Canada’s favourite festivals and another long list of films and filmmakers to watch has emerged. It’s a bittersweet end to another manic run of screenings, red carpets and one-of-a-kind moments that make the Toronto International Film Festival so special. Luckily, for those of us on the west coast, theVancouver International Film Festival kicks off this Thursday for 16 glorious days to satiate even the most seasoned of cinephile’s appetite.

As always, the many stories, celebrity sightings and world-class story telling generates some notable moments that make each TIFF experience unique. Here’s my recap of highlights, hits and misses from this year’s fest:

Highlights

British film was back with a vengeance this year, with TIFF’s City to City London Programme. Plenty of buzz swirled around Tom Hiddleston’s performance in Ben Wheatley’s hierarchical adaptation High-Rise and Tom Hardy’s double-duty role as the infamous British gangsters Reggie and Ronnie Kray in Brian Helgeland’s Legend.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 14:  Director Ben Wheatley (L) and actor Tom Hiddleston speak onstage during the "High-Rise" press conference at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 14: Director Ben Wheatley (L) and actor Tom Hiddleston speak onstage during the “High-Rise” press conference at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at TIFF Bell Lightbox on September 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Canadian cinema sparkled again this year with powerful films like Atom Egoyan’sRemember, the story of an Auschwitz survivor with a gasp-inducing twist starring the great Christopher Plummer. And Patricia Rozema’s outstanding return to TIFF with her semi-apocalyptic tale Into The Forest, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page (who also co-produced). I love this quote from Rozema during her film’s press conference.

“You see how lucky we are to have a moment in time where we have an international audience, a Canadian audience, a hometown audience, family and friends all in one room in one dark space with one beautiful screen and beautiful sound, all experiencing the same thing.”

Creating the most poetic end to an epic festival, Irish/Canadian drama Room was awarded with the prestigious Grolsch People’s Choice Award. The film, based on the bestseller by Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue who also penned the film’s script, is scheduled to screen twice during VIFF and tickets are still available atviff.org.

Hits

Interviewing Drew Barrymore and Toni Colette on the red carpet before the world premiere of Miss You Already before heading into the theatre to watch the public screening with my best girlfriend and crying my eyes out.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 12:  Actresses Drew Barrymore (L) and Toni Collette attend the "Miss You Already" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 12, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 12: Actresses Drew Barrymore (L) and Toni Collette attend the “Miss You Already” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 12, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Running into Michael Moore on Festival Street mere moments after a press screening for his latest eye-opener Where to Invade Next. It’s not what you might expect, so go into it with open eyes and ears. It’s a must-see for Canadian audiences just as much as it is essential viewing for our friends to the south.

Sarah Silverman’s performance in I Smile BackShe’s simply magnificent. Expect more dramatic roles from this notorious funny girl.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 16:  Actress Sarah Silverman attends the "I Smile Back" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Jeremy Chan/Getty Images)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 16: Actress Sarah Silverman attends the “I Smile Back” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Jeremy Chan/Getty Images)

Kate Mara’s fabulous Valentino frock on The Martian red carpet was not only eye candy for fashion insiders, but also for fashion neophytes like me. In fact, everything she was spotted in at TIFF was perfection.

Tom Hardy’s response to an ill-advised agenda pusher during the press conference for Legend, which was perhaps the most viral story to come out of TIFF this year.

Misses 

Missing The Cloon on the red carpet for Our Brand Is Crisis. I was engulfed in Michael Moore’s stirring doc at the time, and while he may not be as handsome, his film was well worth the sacrifice.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11:  Executive Producer/Actor Sandra Bullock (L) and Actor George Clooney attend the "Our Brand is Crisis" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 11, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 11: Executive Producer/Actor Sandra Bullock (L) and Actor George Clooney attend the “Our Brand is Crisis” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 11, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Amber Heard uttering the words “don’t’ make eye contact” in reference to the media on the red carpet for the world premiere of husband Johnny Depp’s film Black Mass. Silver lining, though, is the journalist standing next to me had his GoPro switched on and filmed the whole thing. Coincidently, the world premiere for Heard’s filmLondon Fields was cancelled after the film’s director filed a lawsuit against its producers.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 14:  Actress Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the "Black Mass" premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 14: Actress Amber Heard (L) and actor Johnny Depp attend the “Black Mass” premiere during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival at The Elgin on September 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Heading home on day 6 and suffering a mad case of #FOMO while watching the rest of the festival unfold from afar. Kudos to the journalists who cover the fest from beginning to end, as that takes some kind of otherworldly stamina I can only hope to develop some day.

Visit tiff.net to see which films snagged the awards at the 40th Annual Toronto International Film Festival. Until next year!

Originally published in The Province.

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