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September 16, 2006
A Personal Look Back

It’s with bittersweetness that I look back on my experience at the 31st Annual Toronto International Film Festival. On the one hand, it's going to great once again experiencing sleep. Yet this week has been exhilarating, entertaining and a tremendous amount of fun.

I personally found this year’s lot of films I saw to be somewhat middling. None of the fifteen films I took in would I describe as terrible. Yet only one of the movies that I saw, “The Last King of Scotland”, would I truly defend to the death. There are three other films I could say that I loved – “Little Children”, “Breaking and Entering” and “For Your Consideration” – but I still acknowledge all fall short of masterwork status (especially the latter two).

The actual viewing experience of a festival film is very unique one – where it is easy to get caught up in hype – and when taking in so many movies at once, films age in different ways in one’s mind. “Little Children” is a film I like more I like the more think about it. There’s so much going on in it and I look forward to seeing it again. “Venus”, on the other hand, though enjoyable (especially for seeing Peter O’Toole act well again), really strikes me as ill-conceived the more I think about it. “Bobby”, having made the odd decision to show itself as a work in progress, deserves another look come November.

And then there’s the issue of it being impossible to see as much as one would like to. There’s no way an event like this could be scheduled in a way so that one person can see all they want to. “Babel” and “Stranger than Fiction” I unfortunately missed while two films that built themselves up while here – “The Lives of Others” and “Away from Her” – I also didn’t see.


Now, for those among you who love lists, allow me to rate and rank the fifteen films I saw (**** is outstanding for me, ***½ is great, *** is good, **½ is ‘on the fence’, ** is mediocre, *½ is bad, etc.)…

1. The Last King of Scotland: ****
2. Little Children: *** ½
3. Breaking and Entering
4. For Your Consideration
5. Bella: ***
6. Volver
7. Infamous
8. The Wind that Shakes the Barley
9. Catch a Fire: **½
10. Black Book
11. Venus
12. Bobby
13. All the King’s Men: **
14. The Fountain
15. A Good Year

Five Best Performances of the Festival
1. Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
2. Kate Winslet – Little Children
3. Jude Law – Breaking and Entering
4. Carmen Maura – Volver
5. James McAvoy – The Last King of Scotland

Best Screenplay of the Festival
“The Last King of Scotland” by Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock (Runner-up: “Little Children” by Todd Field and Tom Perotta)

Best Direction of the Festival
Kevin Macdonald for “The Last King of Scotland” (Runner-Up: Todd Field for “Little Children”)

Best Technical Achievement of the Festival
The Visual Effects Work on “The Fountain” (Runner-Up: Ruth Myers’ Costume Design on “Infamous”)

Worst Performance of the Festival
James Gandolfini in “All the King’s Men” (Runner-Up: Ashton Kutcher in “Bobby”)

Surest Bets for Oscar Nominations
Peter O’Toole for “Venus”, Kate Winslet for “Little Children”, Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland”

So that’s *almost* it for me. I’ll pop in once tomorrow though.


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