If you ever want to experience real A-list glamour without traveling to Hollywood, go north to the Toronto International Film Festival. This is where Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman, Michael B. Jordan, Scarlett Johansson, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks and Nicole Kidman all turn up on red carpets and support their movies — and that was just in 2019. But the pandemic led to a major upheaval in the lay of the Canadian land.
In the interest of safety, this year’s stripped-down event was free of lines, crowds, concessions and, sigh, all-night after-parties. (During my first TIFF in 2011, I watched George Clooney and then-girlfriend Stacy Keibler live it up at the Soho House until 4 AM.) I didn’t even receive a physical press pass!
What was left? The movies. Lots of them. On a big screen, these big efforts proved mostly captivating, as many will linger on through the upcoming awards season. And in the case of the buzzy Kristen Stewart-led Spencer, some came directly from previous festivals such as Telluride and Venice. Here’s an early peek at what drew audible cheers and jeers, even through the N-95 masks.