Light House Picks From the Toronto International Film Festival

I’m Chandler and I am an aspiring filmmaker and program support intern at Light House Studio who practically lives at the movie theater. This September, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Toronto International Film Festival. TIFF is seen as the kickoff to the fall movie season and the start of the Oscar race. The frivolity of summer is over and it’s time for film to get serious again. Out of all of the movies I saw while I was there, these are the three movies to look out for in the coming months.


1. Moonlight

“Moonlight” moved the audience at the 9 AM screening I was a part of to a minutes long standing ovation. One particularly enthusiastic audience member who was raving about the score and said “We would still be standing if you hadn’t made us stop,” during the Question and Answer portion with the director and cast after the screening turned out to be Jonathan Demme, director of “The Silence of The Lambs.” Needless to say, “Moonlight” is a true work of art with care and thought put into every detail. “Moonlight” is the second film from director Barry Jenkins. It follows a young black man named Chyrone from childhood to early adulthood in Miami grappling with his homosexuality. Jenkins’ Miami is full of life and beauty even while depicting a character in so much pain. His philosophy is best exemplified in that he forwent the typical practice of mattifying his actors and instead used oil on them because “sweat is life.” “Moonlight” carries black culture through every aspect of the film. Even the score is chopped and screwed, a popular practice in hip hop in which a song is slowed down 60-70 beats per minute and other aspects of the song are also changed by skipping beats or record scratching. Naomie Harris gives a stand out performance as Chyrone’s caring but drug addicted mother. The audience at the screening I attended was audibly shocked to hear that she had shot her scenes in only three days. Chyrone is a very internal and quiet character. All three actors who portray him at different points of his life do an amazing job of acting primarily through expression. “Moonlight” is proof that the more people that are given the opportunity to tell their stories, the better we are for it.
In theaters October 21

2. Nocturnal Animals

“Nocturnal Animals” is the second film from director and fashion designer Tom Ford. It stars Amy Adams as a wealthy but dissatisfied gallerist in an unhappy marriage. She receives a disturbing manuscript written by her ex-husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, that is dedicated to her. The movie bounces between Adams’ character’s unhappy present day, the plot of the book and flashbacks of her and Gyllenhaal’s failed marriage. Ford juggles all three plotlines with ease, never losing the suspense he has built in the previous one. Although Ford wants to keep his careers separate, you won’t see a Tom Ford design in this movie, he can’t help but bring style in spades to everything he does. Each thread of the plot is beautifully shot with its own aesthetic and color pallette. Adam’s gallerist lives in a stylish, but cold world and her past with Gyllenhaal is washed in a much warmer light. I went into “Nocturnal Animals” expecting a more formulaic thriller, but instead saw a movie whose story of guilt and revenge has kept me thinking ever since.
In theaters November 18

3. Loving

“Loving” is the fifth film from director Jeff Nichols. It was shot in Richmond and stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving, the couple whose relationship led to the Supreme Court case that ruled laws against interracial marriage unconstitutional. Anyone wanting a melodramatic Oscar bait film will be sorely disappointed. “Loving” is as understated as the Lovings themselves. Edgerton and Negga imbue the Lovings with so much dignity and their love for each other is clear without any grand speeches. Negga says more with her expressive eyes and Edgerton with a change of facial expression than a monologue ever could. Nichols’ Virginia is so beautiful it’s easy to understand why the Lovings are so reluctant to leave it. “Loving” took a story that could have been a more conventional historical film and instead gave us an intimate portrait of two people fighting for the right to be in love.
In theaters November 4

Be sure to join Light House Studio on Thursday October 27th at 7pm at Vinegar Hill Theatre for our new Indies@Vinegar Hill movie series in collaboration with Indie Film Minute! We will be screening “Prep School” followed by a Q and A with the director.

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