The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival has come and gone – premiering a few iconic titles, hosting conversations with A-listers Taylor Swift and Eddie Redmayne, and giving awards to Brendan Fraser and Michelle Yeoh.


Throughout the festival, which ran September 8-18, Game Rant screened 15 movies and kept track of our favorites, least favorites, letdowns, and surprises. This year’s line-up was impressive with Fraser receiving a three-minute standing ovation for his performance in The Whale, Florian Zeller’s highly-anticipated successor to The Father, and the international premiere of the immigrant horror movie Nanny. Continue reading to see how these titles (and more) made it to our list.

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Related: TIFF 2022 Interview: Fred Hechinger Talks Butcher’s Crossing, ‘There’s An Intentional Murkiness and Emptiness’


TIFF 2022 Favorites

Our three favorite movies from TIFF 2022 were The Whale, Biosphere, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. The Whale has reached critical acclaim since screening in Venice and Toronto, and currently has a 79% on Rotten Tomatoes with 56 reviews. Our takeaway was no different: The movie is incredibly moving and features a standout performance by Fraser. Darren Aronofsky’s emotional drama follows a 600-pound man, Charlie (Fraser), who decides to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink), upon learning of his unfortunate health problems, unpacking a lot of trauma along the way.

Biosphere and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe are great for a similar reason. They nail their emotional beats while also subverting their respective genres. Led by Mark Duplass and Sterling K. Brown, Biosphere follows a pair of lifelong friends, who happen to be the last two men on earth. The comedy-drama is unabashedly weird and challenges Duplass and Brown to deliver career-topping performances in their portrayal of an epic bromance with so much sincerity it’ll leave fans doodling hearts on their notepads.

Aristotle and Dante also checked the box when it comes to an unexpected love, but this time, with the most heartbreaking and addictive friends-to-lovers relationship. The movie, based on the 2012 bestselling novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, introduces two teenage Mexican-American boys, Aristotle “Ari” Mendoza (Max Pelayo) and Dante Quintana (Max Peyalo), living in Texas during the summer of 1987. Directed by Aitch Alberto in her directorial debut, the coming-of-age drama reminds its audience of what it’s like to be in love at a young age — during a time when every decision feels like “life or death” — and the harshness of being a teenager.

TIFF 2022 Least Favorites

Unfortunately, despite the festival’s many successes, it also featured a few titles that failed to deliver. The festival’s opener The Swimmers is a sweet drama inspired by the real-life story of Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini. Upon fleeing her war-torn country, the professional swimmer and her sister (Nathalie and Manal Issa) rescue a small boat of refugees by dragging it across the Aegean Sea when its motor stops working. The movie is a powerful story about refuge and family, and the challenges of remaining true to yourself during times of trauma, but at 134 minutes, it is ridiculously bloated and zips through all its good stuff within the first hour.

And then there’s Roost, a drama that’s delivered with the same seriousness as a soap opera or a Lifetime movie. Advertised as an “immersive thriller,” the movie follows the fallout of an extremely inappropriate and manipulative relationship between a 17-year-old teenager and a 28-year-old truck driver. Grace Van Dien, fresh off Stranger Things acclaim, is held back by a poor, predictable script and noncommittal performances from her costars — making it one of the greatest tragedies of the entire festival.

Letdowns

This category is challenging as these two movies failed to live up to their predecessors, which poses the question: Should they have to? Neither of these movies were flops, per se, but they left a disappointing mark. The Son had a lot to live up to given the international success of The Father, but unlike the latter, the movie took a traditional drama route rather than the surprise psychological thriller twist of its Academy Award-winning forerunner. The Son is about a fractured family, portrayed by Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Zen McGrath, as they struggle to understand their teenage son’s mental health problems. While aggravating and explosive, the movie is also predictable and fails to add more to the narrative presented.

Next up is Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The movie is a fun return to the whodunit universe created by Rian Johnson, but it lacks in depth and overused the elements that made Knives Out great. On par with other Netflix big-spenders, the comedy-drama has a bloated runtime and odd pacing, and waits too long to reveal its lackluster answers.

TIFF 2022 Surprises

TIFF 2022 had some great surprises with Nanny and The Greatest Beer Run Ever. The first is a psychological horror movie about a Senegalese nanny and the nightmares that plague her while she cares for an upper-class family in New York City. Written and directed by Nikyatu Jusu in her debut feature, this title shouldn’t have been a surprise, since it won the 2022 U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival and has a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. But unlike conventional hits, Nanny isn’t surprising in its strong storytelling and solid performances (this is expected from a movie with such acclaim), it surprises in its stunning visuals and intertwining of a mythological fable that will leave its viewers hungry for more.

And then there’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever – not the best movie at the festival, but one that surprisingly challengea dominant narratives surrounding the United States military and war, and writer-director Peter Farrelly’s lack of nuance in his previous film, Green Book. The movie, which reads as a buddy comedy, not a war drama, gives a prime example of how a person’s innocence can be killed by war and violence, and refuses to brush over the casualties of both US and Vietnamese citizens and soldiers.

Next: TIFF 2022 Interview: Aitch Alberto, Max Pelayo & Reese Gonzales on Bringing ‘Aristotle and Dante’ to Life



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