Film Spotlight: V Ranks Toronto Film Festival's Best Performances

Film Spotlight: V Ranks Toronto Film Festival's Best Performances

V goes to TIFF to get an exclusive look at the next wave of spectacular films to look forward to.

V goes to TIFF to get an exclusive look at the next wave of spectacular films to look forward to.

Text: Greg Krelenstein

15 movies in 4 days can be intense on the eyes, but the 2017 Toronto Film Festival was a window into what movies will matter over the next 6 months, setting the tone for this year’s awards races.  From big budget star vehicles to true experimental madness, the festival has something for everyone. Here are the great performances from this year’s TIFF.

Margot Robbie in I, Tonya

Playing the disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, there was no film more electric at the festival than I, Tonya. Taking one page from Goodfellas and the other from Drop Dead Gorgeous, this film tells the story of the real life American tragedy, one that may have even more relevance in the tabloid culture it helped to create. Margot’s best role since her breakout in the Oscar Nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street, she plays to our humanity, and brings to life this twisted stranger-than-fiction that captured the nation’s attention.

Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

In this coming-of-age dramedy directed by actress Greta Gerwig, Ronan is able to turn this familiar story about a high school senior growing up in Sacramento into the definitive film of suburban teenage angst. Leading a cast of emerging talent—Beanie Feldstein, Odeya Rush, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet—Ronan steps out of the period pieces she’s best known for her to give us her best and even convinces you that Dave Matthews Band’s "Crash" is a really good song.

Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman

This powerhouse debut performance from Chilean trans actress Daniela Vega is already being touted as the dark horse in this year’s Awards race. The film is steeped in Almodovar melodrama and even some of his camp. Vega plays a nightclub singer whose much older boyfriend tragically passes, leaving her to deal with his extended family who would rather deny her existence. Expect the film to gather a lot of momentum in the coming months with Sony Pictures Classics already mounting a potentially historical campaign which marks the introduction of a major talent.

Lady Gaga in Gaga: Five Foot Two

Playing herself in unfiltered, no-holds-barred documentary directed by Chris Moukarbel is no easy task; Gaga lets you into her most intimate moments following the period between the recording of Joanne and the Superbowl powerhouse performance. It’s painful to be Gaga and this exploration into her artistry and work ethic also showcases the cost of what fame has brought her. It’s a fascinating portrayal and sets the tone for her debut leading role in a feature next year, A Star Is Born.

Charlie Plummer in Lean on Pete

Plummer came into the fest hot as the winner for Best Young Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in this low key coming of age "more than just a boy and his horse" drama. Based on the novel by Willy Vlautin and directed by Andrew Haigh, this unsentimental road trip film is a portrait of boy who must learn to get by, without parents or the kindness of strangers. And it entirely rests on this riveting performance.

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