Picking the 10 best films from a festival as big as Toronto — with more than 200 features unveiled to North American audiences for the first time — means zeroing in on the absolute best of the best, and though this year’s edition left Variety critics Owen Gleiberman and Peter Debruge without the kind of breakthrough discoveries that have made past editions so exciting (remember, last year yielded “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” and “Arrival,” to name just three), there’s no question that some of 2017’s best work was unveiled over the past 10 days in Toronto.
Add to that the Canadian premieres of such films as “Call Me by Your Name” — a radiant gay love story liberated from the kind of judgment and tragedy so common to the genre — and “The Disaster Artist” — James Franco’s “Ed Wood”-like homage to the worst film of the last 20 years, “The Room” — and the lineup starts to look pretty remarkable indeed. (Another more serious entry, Berlin-launched, Damascus-set “Insyriated,” humanizes the great crisis of our time, featuring a performance from Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass that belongs on year-end Oscar ballots.)
But with Toronto wrapped, it makes sense to acknowledge the new films that most impressed Variety’s two chief critics at the fest. What follows are 10 cinematic triumphs to watch for in the months ahead.