Toronto 2017: Lists and Rankings

The Daily — Sep 19, 2017

Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold has posted his overview of this year’s Venice International Film Festival, and a “Telluride 2017 Journal” from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Eugene Hernandez is up there, too. But FC’s gone all out on the just-wrapped Toronto International Film Festival with its latest Film Comment Podcast, a meaty roundtable discussion of several films including Lucrecia Martel’s Zama, Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, Darren Aronofsky’s mother!, Wang Bing’s Mrs. Fang, and Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s Caniba (73’37”).

MUBI’s Notebook has indexed its outstanding coverage of this year’s edition and, at the top of that page, you’ll find favorites, listed in order, from four contributors. Topping Fernando F. Croce’s list is Paul Schrader’s First Reformed (image above), followed by Zama and Valeska Grisebach’s Western. Sarah Cwynar’s Rose Gold and Dani Restack and Sheilah Wilson Restack’s Strangely Ordinary This Devotion tie for the #1 spot on Kelley Dong’s list. Notebook editor Daniel Kasman goes first for Frederick Wiseman’s Ex Libris: The New York Public Library, then First Reformed and Zama. For Michael Sicinski, whose list runs to twenty titles, it’s Western, Strangely Ordinary This Devotion, and Bruno Dumont’s Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc.

Jeannette not only tops the list from Blake Williams, it’s in a category all its own. There are over fifty features (and a good number of shorts) on this list because Williams is including films in the TIFF lineup that he caught in Cannes or Locarno. There are seven “tiers” into which these titles fall, and only Jeannette has climbed to “Tier 1.” Overall, this page is a fascinating snapshot of the year so far; Williams, who had a film of his own in Toronto, PROTOTYPE (it premiered in Locarno and, as noted at Critics Round Up, has been met with a round of very strong reviews), is also a discerning viewer and critic.

Girish Shambu’s rankings also come to us in clusters, starting with the “Best-of-the-Fest”: Western, Agnès Varda and JR’s Faces Places, Zama, Chloé Zhao’s The Rider, and Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope.

“I am fearful that 2017 is going to be the year of the B+ for me,” writes Tim Grierson, introducing his ranked list of forty-five titles. The top three: Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless, and Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete.

Nicholas Bell’s top ten at Ioncinema features a capsule review for each title. Coming in at #3 is Andrea Pallaoro’s Hannah with Charlotte Rampling, who won the best actress award in Venice; Zama’s at #2; and at #1, First Reformed: “Schrader cooks up an addictive stew on loss, hopelessness and humanity through the prisms of questioned faith and the slippery slope to radicalism in this environmentalist melodrama starring Ethan Hawke in one of his best performances. A stellar supporting cast includes Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer in this provoking drama which stands as one of Schrader’s most accomplished films from his five decades in cinema.”

Rolling Stone’s David Fear also writes about his top ten—in alphabetical order. But the clear favorite is Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: “It's a deep, complex, hilarious, emotionally blindsiding look into truth, justice and the ugly American way—and hands down, the single best thing we saw at Toronto. Let's hope it winning the festival's Audience Award is only the start of its statue-grabbing haul.”

Critic and programmer Shelly Kraicer has tweeted his top ten, headed by Zama, Western, and PROTOTYPE. For critic and Acropolis Cinema founder Jordan Cronk, it’s Zama, First Reformed, and Caniba, followed by seven more.

Collectively, contributors to the Film Stage saw around 100 features in Toronto; their list of over twenty favorites is alphabetical and annotated.

And then there’s IndieWire’s poll. “Thirty-six critics and journalists participated in this year’s survey, from outlets that included major trade publications, magazines and niche outlets,” writes Eric Kohn. “Despite the consensus forming in every category, there were many runner-ups, reflecting the range of possibilities in TIFF’s 255-film program.” At #1: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.

Update, 9/21: Darren Hughes has posted his rankings, and his top three, in order, are Ex Libris, Zama, and First Reformed.

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