TIFF 12 years a slave

The top 5 movies at TIFF 2013 (so far)

Six days down, five to go. We are currently in the eye of the TIFF storm, which gives us a moment to reflect on what's played. With the madness of opening weekend in the rear view mirror, I'd like to spotlight some titles that are gathering a great deal of critical and audience buzz. I've come up with five that seem to be the big talking points so far, which I've listed below. Revise your closing weekend schedules accordingly.

GRAVITY
Remaining screening: 12PM, Sunday, September 15 at The Ryerson
A spectacle of the highest order, the buzz over Alfonso Cuar贸n's first film in seven years seemed to reach a fever pitch upon its premiere in Venice a couple of weeks ago. And then it came to Toronto. Sure, it's not really a "festival film," (at least not anymore than Avatar is), and with it coming out in general release in approximately a month, it's difficult to call this one a priority. But everyone is raving about it, and for good reason. It's probably the greatest use of 3D to date, and blends the Hollywood space movie with the contemplative nature doc in a truly original way. It could have easily been called Veritgo, but I hear that's been taken.

12 YEARS A SLAVE
Remaining screening: 9PM, Saturday, September 14 at The Elgin
What is TIFF without some Oscar buzz? There was some trepidation with this one's unveiling at the festival after some shaky responses from advance test screenings and the film's curious omission from Venice competition. (it's not like director Steve McQueen's Shame took at hit from screening there first.) But rest assured: 12 Years a Slave is in it for the long hall. Apparently the Oscar races for Best Picture and Best Actor are over; Chiwetel Ejiofor is that good.

MANAKAMANA
Remaining screening: 2PM, Sunday, September 15 at Lightbox Cinema 4
There was good reason to be optimistic on this one going into TIFF. It won a Golden Leopard in Locarno, and the filmmakers' affiliation with Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab, which churned out last year's excellent Leviathan, meant we were in good hands. But try to find someone who finished this film who isn't raving about it and calling it one of the best films of this year's festival. (only ask those who finished the movie; apparently some people don't have patience for this kind of thing.) Minimalist, experimental cinema at its finest.

UNDER THE SKIN
Remaining screening: 3PM, Sunday, September 15 at The Ryerson
Like Alfonso Cuar贸n fans, Jonathan Glazer aficionados were on pins and needles awaiting his first film in nine years. Turns out the only to be afraid of was the film itself. Starring Scarlett Johannson as a seductive alien scouring remote highways and backroads for human prey, Glazer continues his flight to outpace Paul Thomas Anderson and Darren Aronfsky in the standings for who is the truest heir to Kubrick among contemporary filmmakers. After Under the Skin, Anderson and Aronofsky had clearly better step up their game.

LOVE IS THE PERFECT CRIME
Remaining screening: 3:30PM, Saturday, September 14 at Lightbox Cinema 2
We'll call this dark horse buzz. Chances are you haven't heard much ranting or raving about this one, and that's mainly because it's an obscure French film that's not exactly forming lines around the block, and you probably just haven't encountered anybody who's even seen it. But if you have, then you'll probably know why I'm including it here. More fun than any other film I've seen at TIFF so far, the Larrieu brothers know how to capture the manic spirit of chaos better than maybe any other filmmaker(s) alive. In terms of offering what movies are most capable of offering, this one covers all the bases.

What have been your favourite films at TIFF 2013 so far? Add your picks to the comment thread below.

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