With 321 feature films released in Toronto this year, any 10-best list will be personal and incomplete. I still haven’t seen Daddy Day Camp. So here are 10 that impressed me with either dazzling craft or that particular shiver of intimacy only movies can offer. Most did both.
1 ONCE John Carney
An Irish busker meets a Czech immigrant in Dublin and sings. Pitch-perfect from start to finish.
2 NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN Joel and Ethan Coen
Brutal and remorseless in the most satisfying of ways, the Coens’ cautionary tale is set in 1980 but entirely a drama for our times.
3 THE SAVAGES Tamara Jenkins
The story of prickly siblings forced to face their father’s mortality, Jenkins’s comedy pushes past soft targets to get at how people wake up from living incomplete, compromised lives.
4 2 DAYS IN PARIS Julie Delpy
The best Woody Allen film in years was directed by a French woman.
5 13 TZAMETI Géla Babluani
Machine-tooled plotting and images in a story of Russian roulette in the French countryside.
6 OM SHANTI OM Farah Khan
Indian megastar Shahrukh Khan sends up Bollywood’s 70s heyday in a glorious feast of movieness. Makes Hairspray look like Bergman.
7 IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS James Longley
American documentarian embeds himself with ordinary Iraqis in three of the country’s hot zones. Essential viewing, even as the war recedes from TV screens.
8 RED ROAD Andrea Arnold
Arnold’s story of a security camera watcher who walks into the threat on her screen is feel-bad feminist cinema at its necessary best.
9 LARS AND THE REAL GIRL Craig Gillespie
Ryan Gosling is the key to this high-concept American indie. The sex doll is the sizzle, but Gosling’s unerring sincerity is the steak.
10 LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA Clint Eastwood
This Japanese-language companion to Flags Of Our Fathers could have come off as a parlour trick, but it’s elevated by Eastwood’s unassuming craftsmanship.