Although there are still plenty of TIFF screenings this weekend, most of the foreign press have left town and King Street is back to its usual tourist trap self. But before we bid adieu to the festival for another year, The Globe and Mail's arts team presents the best, worst and most awkward moments of TIFF 2015.
Best: This moment wasn't performed on the big screen but on a makeshift stage hurriedly improvised in an office lobby on a rainy night. There the James Sewell Ballet unveiled a few intriguing scenes from Titicut Follies, a dance based on Frederick Wiseman's classic 1967 documentary of the same title about inmates in a Massachusetts institution for the criminally insane. A ballerina in a gold lamé dress, her head completely covered by a TV showing a weirdly grinning face, sashayed seductively – an arresting metaphor for the inmates' dedication to their beloved screen.
Worst: Doing the math on the casting in the French comedy Families. Star Mathieu Almaric is 49. Gemma Chan, who plays his fiancée, is 32, but his character's real love interest is a mysterious young woman played by 24-year-old Marine Vacth. What's more offensive is the treatment of a secondary character described as the protagonist's former classmate: Her romantic interest in her contemporary is portrayed as comically pathetic.
Best: Kief and Keef (Kiefer Sutherland and Keith Richards) were in town at the same time. I imagined the two famous imbibers crossing paths, wary and confused, like a tiger meeting a lion in the wild. During an interview with Sutherland, I suggested the three of us hit a bar. "Keith would lay me out," he said. A real party boy knows his limits.
Worst: When I congratulated Deepa Mehta on her film Beeba Boys, she rolled her eyes. "You guys decimated it," she said, referring to The Globe's unfavourable review. I told her I liked the movie – and that a colleague had reviewed it. Her response to that critic was elegantly icy. "You don't have a clue, madame, whoever you are." Oh, snap!
Best: It's a movie that has already been talked about – and is bound to be talked about plenty more after its theatrical release – but man, oh man, Jeremy Saulnier's punks-versus-neo-Nazis thriller Green Room really had me by the cherries. For most of its 95 minutes (after it dispensed with its dork appraisal of what punks are), the movie had me literally on the edge of my seat. It probably helped that I was pretty "fatigued" from slamming too many mini-bottles of fake champagne at the opening-night party and then blasting awake 30 minutes before Green Room's 8:45 a.m. press and industry screening. But either way, the film's depthless terror blasted me awake and back into half-decent shape.
Best: A cheap and cheerful recherché film nerd Halloween costume, courtesy of The Lobster: Oxford blue shirt, grey flannels and left hand cuffed behind back to belt-slung Chubb lock. Sure to be the choice of snobby cinephiles next month.
Worst: When the only downloadable schedule is an Excel spreadsheet and the festival's big-name sponsor is a telecommunications company. Shouldn't there be an app for that by now? Instead, we're still TIFFing like it's 1999.
Best-worst: At supper, when your tablemate is a venerable producer who wants to know if you're holding, confirming what you have long suspected: Even Hollywood septuagenarians smoke more pot than Miley.
Weird: Even Tom Hiddleston's unflappable personal publicist, Luke Windsor, has his own rabid fan following, including Tumblr tribute sites and hashtags. Celebrity has come to this.
Best/worst/everything: On Friday, I talked to Helen Mirren about her tattoo and watched Bryan Cranston act out some Trumbo lines, in his Trumbo accent, just for me. On Saturday, over a long coffee with Christopher Plummer and Atom Egoyan (who've made two films together, including this year's Remember) I got to hear them say – twice! – "You've never told me that story before." (That never happens.) On Sunday, I swung open a door at the Ritz to find Matt Damon sitting in a caramel-coloured leather chair, waiting to talk to me about The Martian. I'm not too jaded to admit that was pretty thrilling. On Monday, I moderated the press conference for Room and watched reporters fall dead silent while Brie Larson (who plays a mother trying to keep it together in unimaginable circumstances) recalled waking up as a kid to find her mother crying silently. "You never know all the reasons you're drawn to a certain movie," she said. And then on Tuesday, on stage in front of 300 people, I talked to Sarah Silverman, at length, about … men's balls. That runs the TIFF gamut, if you ask me.