The 5 Best Films We Saw at TIFF 2022

Including the latest film from arguably the most iconic living director, a music doc that breaks the rules of the form, and a Canadian indie standout

Photo courtesy of TIFF

BY Rachel Ho and Alex HudsonPublished Sep 19, 2022

TIFF has its own set of rules and rituals. By the end of the festival, audiences know to clap along with the song in the BVLGARI ad, yell "arrr" during the anti-piracy warning, and take out their phone at any point in the screening without any regard to typical movie manners. I guess some people just really need to text?

But the main tradition of the Toronto International Film Festival, which ran this year from September 8 to 18, is to pack as many screenings as possible into the 11 days, so that by the end of it you're exhausted and frankly a little relieved that it's over. This year's films ranged from good to great; normally, we at Exclaim! do our post-TIFF roundup as a "best and worst" list, but we frankly didn't see enough bad films this year to merit a "worst" section.

Instead, here are the best of the best — including the latest film from arguably the most iconic living director, two illuminating music docs, and a Canadian indie standout. Here are the five best films we saw at TIFF 2022.

All Quiet on the Western Front
Directed by Edward Berger

For the first time, Erich Maria Remarque's classic 1929 novel Im Westen nichts Neues is adapted by a German filmmaker and production team. Edward Berger's interpretation of the haunting text about the horrific reality of war is immensely visceral and heartbreaking. Technically flawless, All Quiet on the Western Front quickly climbs the list as one of the best war movies ever made, with Felix Kammerer's incredible performance at the centre.

Directed by Clement Virgo

This story of two brothers growing up in the Toronto neighbourhood of Scarborough in the 1990s is a moving film that explores the humanity behind grief. Director Clement Virgo goes deep into the thick of the desire to do more with life than society permits, resulting in one of the most deeply felt films of the year.

Buffy Saint-Marie: Carry It On
Directed by Madison Thomas

The incredible life of folksinger and activist Buffy Saint-Marie is told in this reverent tribute. Of all the amazing aspects of Saint-Marie's story, the one that really stands out is how far she was ahead of her time, as she championed causes in the 1960s that still feel sadly cutting edge today.

The Fabelmans
Directed by Steven Spielberg

From the moment Steven Spielberg announced he would be premiering his semi-autobiographical family drama at TIFF, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that it would win the People's Choice Award. But it's not just hype — The Fabelmans is a gorgeous story of the big dreams and crushing struggles of childhood, filled with meta winks and affecting performances. It feels like an instant classic.

Moonage Daydream
Directed by Brett Morgen

We all know the story of David Bowie — so director Brett Morgen doesn't bother with biographical details, instead presenting Bowie's life as an immersive collage of live performances, psychedelic animations, and philosophical musings from archival interview clips. It's Bowie as the man himself might have presented it. Read our interview with Morgen about Moonage Daydream here.

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