Best and Worst of the Toronto Film Festival: 'Nightcrawler,' 'The Judge,' Julianne Moore
Another edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is effectively over and the powers that be have a lot to ponder before the planning for 2015 begins. Yes, there were famous faces such as Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Jennifer Aniston and Channing Tatum strutting their stuff on the venues' red carpets. Yes, the festival got extremely lucky with five buzzworthy world premieres ("Still Alice," "The Theory of Everything," "Nightcrawler," "Top Five" and, no joke, "Tusk"). Yes, they made some unexpected awards season noise with Julianne Moore and, in some people's eyes, Jennifer Aniston. And yes, they had a lot of fun with Bill Murray Day. But…
Toronto still has some pesky issues to deal with. The festival suffered from some eyebrow-raising, weak studio flicks in prime slots ("The Judge" and "The Equalizer," among others) and too many crowd favorites that debuted somewhere else. Simply, the festival's well-publicized plan to stop Venice and Telluride from getting all the good premieres simply didn't work. It didn't work at all. Will they attempt to put more pressure on filmmakers, producers and Hollywood to debut their best at Toronto in 2015? They can certainly try.
The problem is that right now Toronto has just turned into a huge press opportunity and a more commercially friendly film market than Cannes or Sundance. That's not just the perception anymore, that's the reality. Moreover, being penalized with a screening after the festival's first weekend didn't seem to matter much to "Wild," "The Imitation Game," "99 Homes," "Rosewater," "Good Kill" or "Manglehorn." Of course, the unintentional benefit was big stars on the festival's red carpets in the middle of the week, a rarity in years past. And, if you haven't realized it yet, those red carpets often seem to be just as important to the festival as the movies themselves.
That being said, Toronto's slate wasn't bad this year. Overall, it was solid (the festival has debuted much worse films in the past). It just felt incredibly familiar because so many of the films moviegoers and the media were buzzing about had debuted at other festivals. For example, it was great that "Whiplash" got a huge surge of love, but that movie won the grand jury and audience awards at Sundance in January. If Toronto can live with being a catch-up festival with a few surprises along the way, there should be no need to wage war with its fall cousins for world premieres. If you're still going to get movie stars on your red carpets, who cares? The screaming fans and sponsors don't seem to mind.
With all that in mind, check out our best and worst of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival in the story gallery below.
Which movie that screened at the fest are you most excited for? Share you thoughts in the comments section.