La La Land, Arrival, Jackie, Moonlight, Nocturnal Animals, Barry, Free Fire, Toni Erdmann, Neruda, Paterson, Amanda Knox, Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, Snowden, Lady Macbeth, The Salesman — these, according to most media hotshots, were the absolute cream of the 2016 Toronto Film Festival.
I asked a lot of people during the festival and everyone mentioned these films. Sum-up articles by Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg and Stephen Galloway and Rolling Stone‘s Charles Bramesco and David Fear include the above titles. Feinberg’s list included Lion, which wasn’t acclaimed by anyone I spoke to.
Many of these films had previously played Cannes (Salesman, Toni Erdmann, Paterson, Neruda), Venice (La La Land, Moonlight, Arrival, Nocturnal Animals) and Telluride, but the hotshots nonetheless categorized them as Toronto films.
There’s just one little thing that bothers me. The absolute best film of the year thus far, a little masterpiece called Manchester By The Sea, also played in Toronto. Several times in fact, and it floored many critics and Average Joes. (I took a Toronto friend to see it at a public screening and I felt the room, trust me.) But many if not most of the hotshots have totally ignored Kenneth Lonergan‘s film in their Toronto summaries.
By their own standards the fact that Manchester played a couple of weeks ago in Telluride couldn’t have been a disqualifier. So what did seem to disqualify it? My best guess is that the hotshots ignored Manchester because it had its world premiere at last January’s Sundance Film Festival.
I’m telling you that it blows away nearly every other 2016 Best Picture contender in terms of emotional impact, knockout performances and drillbit dramaturgy. The only film that delivers on a similar level of feeling and expertise is La La land, which has won, by the way, the top TIFF audience prize, which makes it, to go by precedent, the leading Big Cowabunga Kahuna in the Best Picture race.
There’s no question about Manchester‘s powerhouse chops, but in the minds of Gleiberman, Debruge, Feinberg, Galloway, Bramesco and Fear, this Amazon/Roadside release is an “oh, yeah, we forgot to mention it” flick.
Sorry to point this out, guys, but your collective decision to treat Manchester as an invisible Toronto film is derelict.
Note: Feinberg has pointed out that THR‘s Toronto sum-up article excludes films seen at Telluride, and yet it doesn’t exclude films shown in Cannes like Toni Erdmann and Ken Loach‘s I, Daniel Blake, both of which are praised in the body of the THR piece. Again, Manchester by the Sea was a major, major presence in Toronto, and yet it isn’t even mentioned in Feinberg and Galloway’s article.