Arts Review

Marc Glassman's look back at the films of 2011

By Marc Glassman

‘Tis the season to look backwards.

2011 is over and as we’re all hailing the New Year, it’s time for all good critics to get retrospective. Yep, it’s time for all those “best of” lists to appear.

Happily, TIFF is doing more than publishing lists. Their annual Canada Top Ten runs from Jan. 5-15 at Bell Lightbox. Full disclosure: I was one of the jurors this year and am generally pleased with a democratic vote from a diverse group of cinephiles that included (among others) Vancouver filmmaker and musician Blain Thurier, Calgary International Film Festival programmer Brenda Lieberman, award-winning director/writer Patricia Rozema, Atlantic Film Festival programmer Andrew Murphy and Montreal producer Barbara Shrier.

TIFF’s Top Ten features are:
A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, dir),
Edwin Boyd (Nathan Morlando, dir.),
Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, dir.),
Monsieur Lazhar (Pierre Falardeau, dir.),
Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisener, dir.),
Keyhole (Guy Maddin, dir.),
Starbuck (Ken Scott, dir.),
Marécages (Guy Edoin, dir.),
Café de Flore (Jean-Marc Vallée, dir)
and
Le Vendeur (Sebastien PIlote, dir.)
Those films are being screened with a top ten of shorts including Philippe Baylaucq’s Ora, Michelle Latimer’s Choke and TIFF 2011’s best Canadian short winner Ian Harnarine’s Doubles with Slight Pepper.

All of the films are worth seeing and TIFF is to be commended for offering a rare opportunity to view so many Canadian works. What strikes me is the range of material selected. There’s a quirky romance with serious consequences (Take This Waltz), a psychodrama with film noir and classical mythology trappings (Keyhole), an entertaining B-thriller (Hobo with a Shotgun), a mystical love story (Café de Flore) and a cops and robbers tale set in ‘40s Toronto (Edwin Boyd). And that’s only five out of ten.
If I have any misgivings about the list—and I do—it’s the lack of documentaries selected in the Top Ten. Where’s Surviving Progress or Wiebo’s War? Canada is a country famous for its docs; surely TIFF’s list should reflect our national strength.

Next: Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

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