My time at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival has come to a close. The festival began on September 6 and over the course of nine days I saw 24 films and managed to turn in 23 reviews. The only film that has so far gone without a review is Don Coscarelli's John Dies at the End, of which I just haven't been able to crack, not exactly having any kind of feelings for it whatsoever outside of, "Yeah, that was a bats**t crazy movie."
Otherwise, it was a whirlwind of standing in line about an hour before each film, sitting in the dark with hundreds of others as several films enjoy their North American and world premieres. Moving from one film to the next and rushing back to the apartment to get all my thoughts down makes for a hectic way to spend your day, but once it's over you have a lot to look back upon. That's what I will do here.
Some of my reviews enjoyed a lot of conversation, my review (and first A+ of the year) for Silver Linings Playbook has 69 comments and counting. My review of The Impossible is just shy of 50 comments and several others managed to capture your attention. Hopefully I was able to get my thoughts across concisely and even when I disliked a film, gave you enough to determine if it might work for you even though it didn't work for me.
All that said, let's take a look back and if you missed any of my reviews they will all be linked to within this post.
The fest kicked off with Looper, a film I was looking forward to seeing and I was largely impressed right out of the gate and in ways I wasn't entirely expecting.
It's a joy when a film delivers more than you're expecting. On the surface, Looper is a time travel film, but there is more at stake here than the space-time continuum and it's those larger future consequences that turn this raw thriller into an exhilarating feature.
People are buzzing about Argo with Roger Ebert coming out and already declaring it the Oscar Best Picture winner. Uh, not so fast Roger. Argo is a solid thriller that sags a little in the middle, but with no one having seen Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi or Django Unchained yet, it is definitely premature to make such a declarative statement and if supporters aren't careful, the blowback could really hurt the film's Oscar chances rather than help.
Argo is an intense thriller with a finale that will have you clutching at your armrest and your heart beating faster as Ben Affleck once again proves he's a director that continues to deliver with each project he takes on.
Anna Karenina (D)
Anna Karenina was easily the most disappointing film at the fest for me. I love Joe Wright and was excited to see how his "largely in one location" drama would play out. The answer was, it played out poorly... for me at least. The film still has a lot of supporters and is probably looking at a Best Picture nomination and then some.
As a major fan of Joe Wright's work and particularly his talents as a filmmaker, it pains me to refer to Anna Karenina as a perfect example of directorial masturbation at its most damning.
Spring Breakers (C+)
Spring Breakers is a film that proves my point that grading movies means nothing. Yeah, looked at as a whole it deserves the C+, but it was one of the most memorable films of the fest compliments to the star attraction, James Franco, and his whacked out performance as Alien.
An off the wall rave of a movie that's probably best experienced while under the influence of some kind of hallucinogen, at least, that's what the outrageous character James Franco plays would probably suggest and he's the highlight of this ecstasy trip.
The Sessions (A)
I see a lot of Oscar prognosticators considering The Sessions too much of a comedy for Helen Hunt and John Hawkes to be considered in the lead actress and actor race at the Oscars. Gimme a break! This film may have its share of laughs, but both actors give two of the best performances I've seen this year and unless the Academy surprises me and nominates the leads from both Amour and Rust and Bone, I don't see how they can keep these two out.
Heartfelt and authentic, The Sessions is excellent and contains two of the very best performances of the year.