best tiff movies 2019

The 10 best movies at TIFF 2019

The best movies at TIFF for 2019 have run their course, and yet again we've seen a collection of some of the finest films from around the world make themselves known to local audiences. The awards this year highlight films definitely worth checking out, with the three listed for the top Audience award easily among the top tier for the entire year.

Here in no particular order are my favourite movies from TIFF 2019.

Jojo Rabbit

I adored Taika Waititi's fable about a precocious kid and his best friend, Imaginary Hitler. This acerbically comic, thematically intelligent and boldy silly film is a treasure, and I could not be happier that a true mensch of the industry has seen the kind of success from TIFF that he deserves.

Marriage Story

Divorce, drama and Sondheim — Baumbach's latest showcases another fabulous turn by Scarlett Johansson (she plays the mom to Jojo), along with Adam Driver, who was in multiple films this fest as well. It's truly a wonderful film, filled with subtleties of this couple's dynamic that may well be Netflix's ticket to Oscar consideration.


This has shown up on most of the lists I've written this fest, and Bong Joon-ho's Palm d'Or winner is truly a cinematic treasure. I'll repeat my mantra — if it doesn't work for you, I'm not sure it's the film's fault. An exercise in tonal precision, exquisite plotting and rich social commentary, it's a legendary film months after its debut.

The Kingmaker

Lauren Greenfield's latest look at powerful, charismatic matriarchs with sociopathic levels of lacking self-awareness focuses this on the Marcos clan in the Philippines. An intricately-drawn portrait of Imelda and her legacy, the doc is terrific, a delicately balanced yet excoriating look at ongoing legacy of a dynastic political family.

Portrait of a Lady On Fire

Céline Sciamma's perfectly drawn film continues to enthral, a gorgeously realized tale of love and longing that's deserving of far more attention that it's receiving. Those that have seen it love it, and it's something definitely to fight to see when given wider release.


When I was asked what to see, I wanted to give attention to this fabulous debut film that knocked me out at Cannes. It's a World War II film like I've never seen, with a dining room table scene that continues to haunt me months later. TIFF audiences that took a chance spotted one of the great films of the year.


It generated consternation and confusion, winning Venice and making many critics shout displeasure while fanboys salivated before even seeing it. A fitting entrance then for this chaotic character, Todd Phillips' film provides a provocative riff on King of Comedy anchored by an indelible performance by Joaquin Phoenix.

Uncut Gems

A Scorsesean film at this year's fest that actually has Marty as a producer, Josh and Benny Safdie craft a sordid little film with a terrifically obnoxious take by Adam Sandler. It's an anxiety-inducing ride, full of emotional twists and turns, and shows that indie American films can still pack quite a wallop.


This won't be for everyone, and it requires you buy into a particular structural conceit, but my trepidation going into Trey Edward Shults' latest film paid off handsomely with an impactful family drama set in two acts. You'll find bristling performances, a great score, visual splendour and a storyline inviting discussion rather than dictating your response.

Sound of Metal

Darius Marder's feature debut includes a mighty turn by Riz Ahmed as a drummer losing his hearing. The film's not perfect, and a bit unweildly in the final act, but there's so much to admire from the entire ensemble, and the soundscape so rich and evolving, that it felt like a true TIFF discovery.

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