TIFF movies 2016

The top 10 movies to see at TIFF 2016

If the Toronto International Film Festival is a cinematic buffet, then we all have films we're eager to pile onto our proverbial plates. While I've already highlighted a lot of films -- foreign, documentary, and Canadian -- I'm excited to see, there are some I can't wait to see first.

Here are my top picks for movies to see at TIFF 2016.

The Bad Batch
Ana Lily Amirpour's feature film debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night demonstrated all the signs of a tremendous talent in the making. Anything she made next would be a must-see. The fact that her latest is described as a "savage dystopian cannibal fairy tale set in a Texas wasteland" is just the proverbial cherry on top. How do you turn down that premise?

Blair Witch
Yes, it's actually coming out in theatres soon, but I can't resist. Back in 1999, The Blair Witch Project scared me like few other movies have (I'm hard to scare, but I deeply distrust forests). In the same way people enjoy the thrilling fear rollercoasters provide, I can't wait to leap on this particular ride - all the more so because director Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest) knows how to make great horror.

Certain Women
Director Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek's Cutoff) is certainly enough of a draw, but so is the cast she's lined up for Certain Woman: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams. I'm perpetually drawn to stories about small towns and about people whose lives intersect (think Pulp Fiction). Certain Women is both of these things, so I can't see this soon enough.

Nacho Vigalondo's past exercises in genre (Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial) are always delights. He especially excels at making big ideas feel small and intimate. This time, the director is tackling a Godzilla-style movie with an unusual hook: a woman (Anne Hathaway) who suspects a rampaging monster in South Korea is somehow linked to her own life.

Jeff Nichols (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, Mud) is one of my favourite filmmakers, and one who has yet to make a bad movie in my book. So Loving, his first film based on a true story, is a must-see for me. The depiction of poignant relationships faced with adversity is a particular strength of his, which makes this story about an interracial couple in the 1950s fighting a law that forbids them to marry a perfect fit.

Manchester by the Sea
I am an acolyte of Kenneth Lonergan. I consider You Can Count on Me and Margaret to be two of the best movies of the 21st Century. So, even if Manchester by the Sea wasn't generating considerable Best Picture buzz, this film about a haunted man (Casey Affleck) returning home after the death of his brother (Kyle Chandler) to settle his affairs would be one of the first movies I see.

Writer-director Barry Jenkins' film about a young African-American man coming of age, and struggling with his sexuality, is one of the most buzzed about TIFF movies. It's received glowing reviews after its screening at the Telluride Film Festival, and it's even got the stamp of approval from Cameron Bailey himself. How can I not want to immediately see a film with such early praise and the promise of powerful filmmaking?

Personal Shopper
Kristen Stewart's last collaboration with director Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) led to one of her best performances, so their reteaming for Personal Shopper is an exciting prospect. But so is the premise. Stewart plays a medium that is trying to reach her dead twin brother, and starts to get text messages that may be coming from the great beyond. An art film ghost story? Yes please.

Their Finest
Gemma Arterton is criminally underrated, as is Lone Scherfig (An Education), so the teaming up of the two makes for a potent combination. It's also the premise of Their Finest that's a draw for me. I love movies about movies, and have long been fascinated by World War II propaganda filmmaking. So a movie about a British film team looking to make movies to boost soldier morale is right up my alley.

Things to Come
Mia Hansen-Løve's Goodbye First Love and Eden have helped establish the director as one of our finest filmmakers. One who, thrillingly, isn't content to explore the same subjects. After tackling first love and EDM with Things to Come, she looks at a middle-aged woman whose life is thrown into disarray when her husband leaves her for someone else.

Which films are you most looking forward to seeing at TIFF 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Film still from Personal Shopper.

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