10 Films From TIFF 2022 That Are Worth Seeing When They Hit Theatres

By Neilia Sherman-Waterman

The 47th edition of the Toronto International Film festival has officially come to a close. Of course, there were lots of worthwhile films at TIFF this year–out of 200 selections, some have actually already won awards, while others are quietly making a name for themselves.

After ten days of line-ups, red carpets and Q&A’s, while navigating the first full-tilt TIFF since 2019, it is time to make some recommendations. Here are a few of the must-see films that were shown at TIFF 2022. After all, this festival and its’ People’s Choice Award often sets the tone for what films will be at the forefront of awards season.

Bros
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Billy Eichner, Luke Macfarlane

I enjoy Billy Eichner so this movie was a must see for me. It does not disappoint. There is a lot of humour and Eichner calls out most parts of the LGBTQ community for taking themselves too seriously, while at the same time making sure that everyone is represented. The writing is sharp and clever, and it moves along without dragging.  Judd Apatow is one of the producers and it is nice to see that gay rom coms are becoming mainstream.

Catherine Called Birdy
Director: Lena Dunham
Cast: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ralph Ineson, Russell Brand

I am a huge Girls fan, so I knew that Lena Dunham had it in her to direct an entertaining movie with a message. This British period piece (she does live in England now) based on a YA book, has a sparkling young actress, Bella Ramsey, as the lead. It is fun to watch and witty while being on point about the message that women have a right to their own destiny. It seems like whether it is back in the Middle Ages or now, we keep having to have this conversation.

Empire of Light
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, Toby Jones, Colin Firth

Sam Mendes, who won the best director Oscar for his directorial debut American Beauty, wrote and directed this beautifully, shot film, which is set in the 1980’s. It takes place in an old-fashioned movie house that is located in a quaint British seaside town. This will remind you that showing films with a projector used to be an art and that movies can be a transforming experience. Olivia Colman and Michael Ward play coworkers, Stephen and Hilary and grapple with issues of mental health and racism while having an unusual romance.

The Fabelmans
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Jeannie Berlin, Julia Butters, Robin Bartlett, Keeley Karsten, Judd Hirsch

How exciting that the great Stephen Spielberg is finally coming to TIFF in its 47th year and he is bringing his most personal film, the semi-autobiographical: The Fabelmans. Even the great Spielberg was afraid to share his personal story for fear of retribution from family until now! This movie has been at the back of his mind for years and he co-wrote it with playwright Tony Kushner during the pandemic. This film pulls no punches as it looks at problematic family dynamics and coping with anti Semitism, while revealing how he used movie making to cope with life.

The Inspection
Director: Elegance Bratton
Cast: Jeremy Pope, Jeremy Pope, Raul Castillo, McCaul Lombardi, Aaron Dominguez, Bokeem Woodbine, Gabrielle Union

Well written and well acted this film was based on the real-life experience of writer/director Elegance Bratton, who enlisted in the Marines after being kicked out of the house by his mother at age 16, for being gay. Set in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era Jeremy Pope plays Ellis French and Gabrielle Union takes on the role of his mother Inez. Their scenes together are breathtaking and painful. This feature debut is well worth a watch.

My Policeman
Director: Michael Grandage
Cast: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Rupert Everett, Gina McKee, Linus Roache

Who would have thought of Harry Styles as a serious actor who can hold his own in drama about a closeted gay policeman in the 1957 England? He actually does.  An important history lesson for those born after homosexuality was legal, this beautifully shot film looks at the lives of the characters in the past and 40 years down the road. Interest is generated by the back and forth between the two sets of actors playing the leads in different time periods.

Sidney
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Cast: Harry Belafonte, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Nelson George, Lou Gosset JR., Katharine Houghton, Quincy Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Spike Lee, Lulu, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey

This is a documentary about Sidney Pointier, produced by Oprah Winfrey. The Bahamian- American actor, who died last January, broke the colour barrier in the U.S. motion picture industry by becoming the first African American to win an Academy award for best actor and the first Black movie star. The film documents how Pointier paved the way for actors of colour by rejecting parts that were based on racial stereotypes.  He starred in classics with an anti-racist message such as Guess who is coming to Dinner, To Sir with Love and the Heat of the Night. He also directed several movies including the box office hit, Stir Crazy. Pointier had an amazing career and did not know how to give a bad performance.

Triangle of Sadness
Director: Ruben Östlund
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Zlatko Buric, Iris Berben, Vicki Berlin, Henrik Dorsin, Jean-Christophe Folly, Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies, Carolina Gynning, Arvin Kananian

A satirical take on the rich, this film was made by Swedish filmmaker Ruben Ostlund and is his first English language film. The very wealthy are on a luxury yacht and things don’t go their way. Woody Harrelson plays the irritated captain. When I saw the trailer for this, I knew that I had to see it. It takes down get rich professions such as modeling (make a sad face, now make a happy one) and businessmen (you got rich for your face and I got rich by making shit). The cruise industry, where the poor serve the rich is exposed for all its inequalities. Funny and honest all at once.

The Whale
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton

Brendan Fraser has already won a TIFF award for his performance in this film.  A wonderful comeback for Fraser, who had been a very popular actor starring in more lightweight films such as The Mummy in the 90’s, and now carries off the role of a 600 pound man, who is isolated in his apartment for the entire film. Oscar buzz is high for Fraser in this role of lifetime. Director Darren Aronofsky stays committed to the original play and his screenplay makes it work, even though every scene is in a depressing dimly lit apartment.  It is almost impossible to watch this film without crying.

Women Talking
Director: Sarah Polley
Cast: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod

Canadian director, Sarah Polley is back after 10 years with this star-studded film. Claire Foy, Rooney Mara, Frances McDormand, and Jessie Buckley play Mennonite woman who are being sexually assaulted by cowardly men of their community.  Polley’s adaptation of Canadian writer Miriam Towes’ novel with the same title is powerful and intriguing. The title is truthful–most of the film takes place in the upper story of a barn, where women of all ages who have been sexually assaulted in their sleep are having a day long conversation that asks the question: Should we stay, or should we go?

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