Our guest writer/correspondence John H Foote wraps it up from TIFF18
By day eight the normally jam-packed concourse area of the huge Scotiabank Cinemas looks empty, only a few Press remain, catching the films we have not yet seen. The screenings, previously at capacity are now half or less filled as the festival winds down. Always top heavy, that first weekend is huge, bringing the major and minor studios to the city to promote their films. Anxious publicists wait outside the screenings to pounce on press gauging their reactions. 2018 was a fine festival though not close to the bounty of great cinema provided at TIFF 2007. Now THAT was a great year, yet to be equalled, perhaps never to be surpassed.
‘First Man’, Damien Chazelle’s soaring yet gritty Neil Armstrong biography leaves here headed for the Oscar race, along with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in their triumph, ‘A Star is Born’. Cooper could join Orson Welles and Warren Beatty in being nominated for four Academy Awards for his extraordinary directorial debut.
Melissa McCarthy appears headed for the race with her fine dramatic performance in ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ while Viggo Mortenson leaps into the front-runner position for Best Actor in the warm, nostalgic, sometimes heartbreaking ‘Green Room’. Co-starring with the elegant Mahershala Ali, both men deserve nods for Best Actor.
The Netflix backed ‘Roma’, directed by Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuaron earned high praise from the Press, though I confess I missed it. Nicole Kidman raged her way through ‘Destroyer’ as a destructive, badass cop and richly deserves a nod for Best Actress.
‘Beautiful Boy’ contained lovely performances from Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet as a father and son at war with the son’s drug addiction. Both actors excel in a tough movie, that became for me, a tad redundant.
‘Widows’ rocked. It simply was alive! Steve McQueen, made a mainstream genre picture and in doing so turned the genre on its ear with blazing performances from Viola Davis, and the astonishing Daniel Kaluuya, who is pure evil and intense menace.
And ‘The Hate U Give’ was a surprise, effective without preaching and an astonishing performance by Amandla Stenberg in the lead. She was pegged to be a star as the doomed Rue in ‘The Hunger Games’ (2012) and is on that path.
As always, there were disappointments. ‘The Sisters Brothers’ and ‘The Front Runner’ were busts, just did not work for me. ‘Ben is Back’ has a superb performance from Julia Roberts but felt for all the world like an HBO film. I had hoped Michael Moore’s attack on Trump, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ would be more ferocious but it was scattered, kind of all over the place, but it certainly made the comparisons of Hitler and Trump very clear.
2018 marks the curtain call for TIFF CEO Piers Handling. Best of luck, a hearty thank you, Sir, for taking this festival to the remarkable heights you have. You will be missed.
Thanks to Ashes for inviting me to do this, hope you all enjoyed.
To TIFF 2019 !
John H. Foote is among the best-known film critics in Canada and has been active as a critic for thirty years.
His career began as co-host, co-producer of the popular movie talk and review program Reel to Real. He left the show after ten years for his first love, print criticism, he longed to write about movies. For two years he wrote for Toronto Life and Fashion Magazine, his work quote in the LA and New York Times, as well as major papers across North America. He was offered a position writing for the internet and has since written for incontention.com, thewrap.com, screenrant.com, awardscircuit.com and most recently thecinemaholic.com. In May 2018 he started his own site Footeandfriendsonfilm.com, which has enjoyed great success its first few months.
Foote was also involved in film education teaching film history and film genre at Trebas Institute before leaving to be Dean of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history and continued his work as a critic.
Foote has written two books, “Clint Eastwood: Evolution of a Filmmaker”, and “Spielberg: American Film Visionary” (due in 2019). His third, “American Cinema in the Seventies” is due for release in 2020.
Through his career, he has interviewed everyone in the business except Jack Nicholson!