8 of the best movies from the Toronto Film Festival

"Knives Out" is glorious entertainment: a classic murder mystery with the sort of eccentric, interesting characters that would make Agatha Christie proud. Photo Credit: Courtesy of TIFF

This year’s edition of TIFF featured an unusually large volume of first-rate cinema.

"Knives Out" is glorious entertainment: a classic murder mystery with the sort of eccentric, interesting characters that would make Agatha Christie proud.
"Knives Out" is glorious entertainment: a classic murder mystery with the sort of eccentric, interesting characters that would make Agatha Christie proud. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

The annual Toronto International Film Festival offers a meaningful preview of what to expect at the movies over the course of the fall season, as many of the biggest and most consequential films choose the 10-day event north of the border to begin their runs toward what they hope will be combined commercial and awards success.

But even by the festival’s normal lofty standards, this year’s edition, which ended on Sunday, seemed to feature an unusually large volume of first-rate cinema.

This critic did not see some of the films that played to the most rapturous response. There were hundreds of features in the program, so any attempt to make even the slightest bit of a dent in that total proved impossible. That being said, these are some of the highlights screened at this essential festival:

‘Knives Out’

This is a glorious entertainment: a classic murder mystery with the sort of eccentric, interesting characters that would make Agatha Christie proud. Writer-director Rian Johnson weaves a masterful combination of humor and suspense; and the cast simply could not be better, especially Daniel Craig playing his funniest and richest part, as a private detective. Opens Nov. 27

‘Dolemite is My Name’ 

Eddie Murphy has long wanted to bring the story of Rudy Ray Moore, the blaxploitation legend renowned for his comic pimp character, Dolemite, to the big screen. And it’s easy to see why: his story is funny and inspiring, infused with sheer joy. Opens Oct. 4, launches on Netflix Oct. 25

The Two Popes’ 

Jonathan Pryce plays Pope Francis opposite Anthony Hopkins’ Pope Benedict in this beautifully rendered drama anchored around a weekend they spend together as Benedict weighs his resignation. Opens Nov. 27, launches on Netflix Dec. 20

‘Honey Boy’

Shia LaBeouf writes and stars in a movie based on his own childhood and his difficult relationship with his father, and you can feel every bit of his heart and soul in the work. Opens Nov. 8

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’

The Tom Hanks Mister Rogers movie avoids seeming redundant after the wonderful “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” documentary by instead focusing on the iconic figure’s impact on a journalist assigned to profile him. Opens Nov. 22

‘Ford v Ferrari’

Matt Damon and Christian Bale build a really fast car, so that Ford can beat Ferrari at the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1966, in a movie that’s simply world class commercial entertainment. Opens Nov. 15

‘Coming Home Again’

The new film from director Wayne Wang is a spare character piece in which a son cooks his dying mother’s favorite meal. Release date undetermined

‘Judy’

Renée Zellweger is simply astonishing as Judy Garland in this film about her series of concerts at Talk of the Town in London, just months before her death in 1969. Opens Sep. 27

Robert Levin