John’s TIFF Diary: Final Entry

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Closing the book on the sights, sounds, films and memories from TIFF 2011...

As it seems to do every year, TIFF ended with a whimper and not a bang.  The first week is teeming with activity, be it the top screenings, interviews, events, and then by the following Thursday, just one week in, it all starts to fade fast. I spent some time watching the short films on the last couple of days because there was precious little else to see that interested me.  Yes I finally saw A Dangerous Method and liked it…did not love it, but will write more about it when it is released.

For me, the best film I saw at Toronto was by far The Descendants, a simply astonishing work from Alexander Payne with an Oscar-caliber performance from George Clooney.  In fact, this is the film that will leave TIFF with the biggest head-start to the Oscar-circle.  Clooney’s work is by far the finest of his career, and I believe he will win the Academy Award for Best Actor.  I will have to see a towering piece of acting to change my mind.

Now, I admit that is a bold statement having not seen Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar, which I suspect will be outstanding, but I honestly cannot imagine anyone surpassing Clooney’s work in this outstanding film. No kidding, by the end half the audience had tears in their eyes. It’s been many years since I wept openly at a film, but this one got to me.  While it is about loss and death and betrayal, it is also about forgiveness, moving on and being a decent human being.  The performances in the film are exquisite; my God, even Matthew Lillard, and I actually managed to see it twice to make sure it was as good as I initially believed…and it was.

The Ides of March left the festival perhaps a little deflated but should do fairly well come Oscar season, and Moneyball should, with a strong campaign, land a few nominations as well.  Though there have been high hopes for David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, I am not sure it will make to Oscar’s table in the end.  I have taken some heat up at Toronto for being underwhelmed by the Glenn Close’s performance in Albert Hobbs.  I stand by what I wrote.  It was decent, but no great piece of acting.  Sadly, Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz also did not impress me a whole lot.  Though the performances are very strong, there were elements of the film I struggled mightily with and found both self-indulgent and annoying.

I enjoyed Francis Ford Coppola’s comment that to achieve financial freedom he “had to get a day job,” referring to his wine empire that has allowed him to make movies without the studios.  No longer does Coppola have to go hat-in-hand to them for money; he can do it on his own.  So when, might I ask, will he begin making good films again?  The film he brought here, Twixt, was just terrible I am afraid, and we know he is capable of greater things.

As TIFF ‘11 fades into the history books, I found the move south to King Street odd, because Yorkville always seemed like a good place for the festival.  The brand spankin’-new Lightbox is located at King and John, a beautiful part of the city, and I am sure we will all get used to it as it did not seem like home…not yet.

As for the Lightbox building itself…perfection, utter perfection.

I thank all of our readers for following me on this adventure.  This is John H. Foote, signing off.