With hundreds of films and tens of thousands of tickets, I was continuously impressed by how accessible TIFF was and how affable the audiences were. No whining while waiting in line. No texting during the movies. At every showing, attendees cheered the volunteers. And Toronto now has a permanent memorial to movies: This week, TIFF unveiled the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a five-story temple of theaters and concert halls.
But the biggest surprise for me at TIFF was how good the movies turned out to be. The lineup set high expectations and more often than not, I was engaged, provoked and most importantly, entertained.
In my opinion from the cheap seats, the winners are as follows:
The best male performance was Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, with a close second being Sam Rockwell in Conviction.
The best female performance was Natalie Portman in Black Swan (believe the hype).
The biggest surprise was It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It’s kind of really great.
The best breakthrough performances were Andrea Riseborough in Brighton Rock and Jessica Chastain in The Debt.
The best audience pleasers: Black Swan, Conviction, Hereafter, The Debt and The King’s Speech.
Overall, TIFF reinvigorated my love for movies. I still believe that film is the predominant art form of our time. The unique event of sitting with others in the dark and sharing emotion is a seminal experience. And moments from movies remain moments in our lives. Butch Cassidy on a bicycle. Flying monkeys swooping down on Dorothy. Michael Corleone settling family business. A war profiteer named Schindler redefining courage. Scarlett O'Hara saying "Tomorrow is another day."
For some, movies are a two-hour diversion. For suckers like me, they’re magic shadows.