Magazine article Screen International

10 Films That Stood out at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals

Magazine article Screen International

10 Films That Stood out at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals

Article excerpt

The Screen International chief critic picks out some of the buzzy titles from the Autumn festivals.

‘The Shape Of Water’, ‘Lady Bird’, ‘The Disaster Artist’

The Shape Of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s achingly beautiful fairytale dominated the conversation at Venice, where it screened on the first Saturday. The Golden Lion cemented what many already thought: The Shape Of Water is lining up for an across-the-board awards campaign when Fox Searchlight release the film in the US on December 8, from best film and director to screenplay (also del Toro) and, particularly, actress for Sally Hawkins.

Sweet Country

Warwick Thornton’s blistering, slow-burn follow-up to Samson And Delilah (2009) won the Platform award at Toronto and the Grand Jury Prize at Venice and, amongst some muscular outliers, packs the strongest wallop. Bryan Brown, Sam Neill and Hamilton Morris headline this powerful Outback Western of racism and revenge, which Memento is selling internationally.

Lady Bird

Acquired by Focus Features somewhere between its Telluride and Toronto screenings, Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut is a “rollicking, surefooted, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age charmer,” according to Screen’s critic, with all the potential to become an indie crowd pleaser. Once again, the film’s Irish star Saoirse Ronan has whipped up plenty of awards chatter.

I, Tonya

Margot Robbie produces and stars in this comi-tragic story of the trailer-trash figure skater Tonya Harding - a girl, we see, who never had a hope between her deranged, abusive mother (Allison Janney) and violent husband Jeff Gilooly, played by Sebastian Stan. Full marks to director Craig Gillespie for a tight, shocking delivery of Steven Rogers’ screenplay, amid down-at-heels ‘80s trappings (the hair!). Neon snagged US rights at Toronto.

Custody

The debut of the year as France’s Xavier Legrand take on a horribly-real story of domestic terrorism - a continuation of sorts of his short Just Before Losing Everything - and turns it into a breathtaking, can’t-look-away drama. Denis Menochet is unforgettable. Celluloid Dreams is handling sales.

The Disaster Artist

His output may be wide and variable but James Franco certainly hits the bullseye with this endearing tribute to bad filmmaking, his version of Ed Wood. Screening at Toronto following its SXSW debut earlier in the year, this is the hilarious story of Tommy Wiseau (Franco), his best friend Greg Sistero (Franco’s brother Dave) and the making of 2003’s cult classic The Room. …

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