By Jim Slotek, Kim Hughes, Liam Lacey, Karen Gordon, and Bonnie Laufer
Right now, at the conclusion of the 44th annual Toronto International Film Festival, we feel like we’ve seen one big, long movie about Nazis, lesbians, divorces, the perils of fast fashion, and eccentric Latin Americans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
We at Original-Cin have dashed from film to film for the entire 10 days of TIFF, alerting you on a daily basis to gems and must-avoids (you do subscribe to our daily newsletter, right?). Now it’s time to collect our thoughts and give you our picks for best and worst of the 2019 festival.
For the most part, we all saw different movies – the better to expand our coverage – so what follows is a highly personal list from each critic’s viewing experience. You heard it here first.
Best Thing I Saw: Parasite, by Bong Joon-Ho, which already won the Cannes Palme D’or. It’s about a family of con artists on the poor side of town, who connive their way into the lives of an obscenely rich family. The movie is darkly hilarious in its first two acts, and then takes a violent and disturbing turn when other shysters are in play. Underscoring the entire film is the barely suppressed disdain of the rich for the poor and almost murderous resentment the other way around.
Runner Up: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Everyone already assumed it was a good choice to cast Tom Hanks as the late Mr. Rogers. But he brings unanticipated soul to the role of the most decent man in America — here, dedicated to saving the soul of the bitter magazine journalist (Matthew Rhys) who’s interviewing him. Devices that might have come off as hokey (like rendering big cities into the miniature-landscapes that Fred Rogers used on his show) are endearing and contribute to the mood of this ode to caring and kindness in cruel times.
Worst Thing I Saw: It’s a testament to the quality of everything I saw (and to warnings not to see The Goldfinch), but Just Mercy was a great story (about a crusader against the wrongly convicted on Death Row) tepidly told. As the lead condemned man in particular, Jamie Foxx did the least acting possible.