Tom at TIFF Final Report: Tom's Top Five

Toronto International Film Festival
Posted at 8:32 PM, Sep 20, 2021
and last updated 2023-03-11 14:48:01-05

Tom Santilli is a professional film critic, TV personality, host and the Executive Producer of Movie Show Plus.

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, or "TIFF" has now ended. So what films stood out from the pack, and which films/performances stand the best chances come Oscar season this year?

If you missed it, you can read Part 1 of our TIFF coverage here and Part 2 here.

Read on for the "Final Report" (Part 3), including Tom Santilli's Top Five films and stand-out performances from TIFF 2021.

(The "Tom at TIFF" series, with WXYZ film critic and Movie Show Plus's own Tom Santilli, follows Tom's digital coverage and his ongoing reports on TIFF throughout the Festival, which ran from September 9th to September 18th.)

It really was a "Tale of Two TIFFs" this year at the Toronto International Film Festival. The "in-person" experience was the place to be, where several of the tip-top films of TIFF were showcased, kept away from the TIFF digital platform where critics could "attend" TIFF virtually. On the digital platform itself, there were several gems (both films and performances), but nothing that matched the upper echelon of TIFF films that will now sky-rocket through the remainder of the awards season.

The top prize of TIFF this year - The People's Choice Award - went to Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast," starring Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe. Runners-up were "Scarborough" and the Jane Campion film, "The Power of the Dog" starring Benedict Cumberbatch, who also was recognized for his performance in the film. Jessica Chastain's performance in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" also was awarded, as was "Dune" director Denis Villeneuve. The People's Choice Midnight Madness award went to the buzz-inducing film "Titane," and "The Rescue" won the top Documentary prize.

With the exception of "The Rescue," none of these awarded films - "Belfast," "The Power of the Dog," "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," "Dune" and "Titane" - were made available on the digital TIFF platform.

Of the several films remaining that WERE included for online screening, here are my Top Five films (that I saw) as well as the few performances that really stood out. In no particular order:​


"The Survivor"

"One Second"

"Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11"

"Petit Maman"

Top Performances. Ben Foster ("The Survivor"), Sigourney Weaver ("The Good House"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Electrical Life of Louis Wain"), Alanna Bale ("Kicking Blood"), Odessa Young ("Mothering Sunday"), Tim Roth ("Sundown").

All Films Screened at Digital TIFF. "Kicking Blood," "Attica," "Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11," "Mothering Sunday," "Petit Maman," "Violet," "The Guilty," "The Electrical Life of Louis Wain," "Lakewood," "Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over," "Sundown," "Julia," "The Starling," "Jagged," "The Survivor," "You Are Not My Mother," "Flee," "The Good House," "Silent Night," "One Second."