best tiff 2017

The 10 best movies at TIFF 2017

It was another great year for movies at TIFF, and that means it was yet again no easy feat to narrow everything I saw down to a list of favourites. Nonetheless, there are always some films that linger in the mind and in the heart just a little bit more than others.

Here are my picks for the best movies I saw at TIFF 2017.

The Breadwinner

The stunning animation in The Breadwinner would be enough to qualify the film for this list. But then there’s the powerful story about a young Afghani girl who has to dress as a boy to support her family. The film is a feat in every way: pitch perfect writing, characters, emotions, and themes.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

I don’t know how S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) manages to make me love watching films where things happen to human bodies I never want to see. Brawl is Grindhouse-style filmmaking at its best. Its bursts of visceral violence kept my adrenaline pumping for days.

Call Me By Your Name

A beautiful ode to the aimless days of young summer love, Call Me By Your Name is so emotionally rich, it’s like a cinematic pacemaker has attached itself to your heart and beats it for you throughout the film. For 132 minutes you live the movie in a way you can’t forget.

The Disaster Artist

I expected James Franco’s film about the making of the infamous The Room to be funny. What I didn’t expect was the empathy and poignancy it brings to the misfits behind The Room. Here they're not (just) laughing stocks, but achievers of the ultimate Hollywood dream: making a beloved movie.

First Reformed

Ask yourself “What if the main character of Taxi Driver were instead a Reverend suffering a crisis of faith” and you'll get an idea about what you’re in for with this captivating film, anchored by a dependably great Ethan Hawke. This was one of the festival’s genuine surprises.

The Florida Project

Sean Baker’s film accomplishes a rare feat: an honest and nuanced, but never patronizing or trite, look at those who live and struggle in the peripherals of America. Bonus: a lovely nice-guy performance from Willem Dafoe, and the most natural child actors you’ll ever see.

Indian Horse

This adaptation of the late Richard Wagamese’s novel is impossible to shake. Aside from being one of the most loving cinematic odes to the joys of hockey, more significantly it captures the important story of how the trauma of residential schools affected its victims for their whole lives.

Lady Bird

Film critic Noel Murray described Lady Bird as “the Frances Ha version of Edge of Seventeen” and that’s a perfect distillation of what makes the film great. Gerwig’s filmmaking and Soirsa Ronson’s performance combine to paint a captivating portrait of coming of age that rings free of cliché.


The supernatural can serve as a powerful metaphor to mirror the inner turmoil of a character and Joachim Trier’s Thelma does it right. A story about a new-to-college young girl, whose burgeoning feelings for another woman grate against her Christian upbringing, I was thinking about Thelma for days.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The People's Choice Award winner from Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) is darkly funny, but where it really packs a wallop is its exploration of the emotional black hole that is grief. That's wonderfully brought to life by year-best performances from Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson.

Lead photo by

Disaster Artist

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