TIFF15

You’ve got to see: Room

One of the best films I saw at TIFF this year was also one of the best books I’ve read over the past several years. ROOM. And it won the coveted People’s Choice Award.

 

roomThe past few years’ winners of the People’s Choice Award include:
The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s SpeechSlumdog Millionaire etc. etc. 
And going back a few more years, winners include: Hotel Rwanda, American Beauty, The Princess Bride, The Big Chill, and Chariots of Fire.

All this to say that the People’s Choice prize at TIFF is typically a “this is a great film” stamp of approval (voted on by actual movie goers, not critics) and often the winners go on to be nominated for multiple Oscars.
So, back to Room.

This film covers difficult topics–abduction and rape–but because the film (and the book) are anchored in the point of view of a five-year-old boy, the film is also surprisingly upbeat and sweet. Look at the poster for the film. Sweet, right?
The performance from Brie Larson (who was amazing in Short Term 12 — find it, if you haven’t seen that one yet — and as Amy Schumer’s sister in Trainwreck was astounding. She is definitely one of the most unaffected and talented actors in Hollywood these days.
And the boy, Jacob Tremblay, who plays her son! Wow. The kid was actually eight when it filmed, but you totally believe that he’s five and he’ll steal and break your heart–then ultimately warm it.
I’ve spoken to a few people who are afraid to see this film, thinking that the subject matter is too difficult, but I say don’t worry. Just go. You won’t be sorry. Especially if you’re a mom, or have one. 😉
And for me, personally, it was fun to see so many shots of Toronto and to see a Canadian film (well Canadian/Irish co-production) doing so well. (Even if it’s supposed to be somewhere in the US.)
If you go see it, let me know what you think! I hope you love it as much as I did.

Favorite TIFF Memories — Crash

It’s time for the Toronto International Film Festival again!

I swore I wasn’t going to go this year (for the first time since 2002) but when a friend offered to go online to buy me some tickets I couldn’t resist. I’m seeing 7 movies. A record low for me, but I have other things going on at the moment….

That said, I hereby promise to share my thoughts on all the films I see. :)

In the meantime, I decided to revisit some of my favorite memories from TIFF over the years.

One of the first TIFF moments that came to mind was the world premiere of the movie CRASH.

crashWhile Crash won the Oscar for Best Film in 2005, I actually saw it on September 10, 2004. And was one of the very first people, ever, to see the film. Writer and Director Paul Haggis, during his introduction, told us that he didn’t have any industry or press screenings prior to the public premiere at TIFF–he cheekily told distributors who might want to bid on the film, to show up to the public screening–and that in itself was exciting. (Distribution rights sold at auction later that same night, or very early the next morning.)

The feeling in the beautiful Elgin theatre that evening was electric. And I was buzzing. I’d selected the film knowing almost nothing about it, and it was during one of my years where I’d purchased a Festival Pass, good for 50 films, so was on a serious movie overload.

But while waiting to get in, I was lucky to be admitted to the lobby ahead of time (thanks VISA Canada) and Sandra Bullock (in a beautiful pink satin gown if I’m remembering correctly) literally tapped me on the shoulder to get by to the elevator, saying, “Gotta pee. Excuse me. Gotta pee.” In real life, she was just as amazing as you want her to be.

And the film… It simply blew me away. I gasped, I cried, I marveled at the connections and the riveting performances from actors (including Bullock) who I’d underestimated before.

And I became a lifelong fan of Paul Haggis. Remember, I saw Crash several months before Million Dollar Baby came out, and as of that night he was mostly known for being a writer on The Facts of Life.

Few other TIFF nights have lived up to that one… but over the next week or so I plan to share a few more that did.