Here are the best films from the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival The first fully reopened edition of TIFF concludes this weekend. But with a film industry still reeling from box office declines and changing audience habits, the award season remains in flux.

Here are the breakthrough films that premiered at this year's Toronto Film Festival

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Red carpets, Steven Spielberg, Harry Styles with a purse - the first post-COVID edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is underway in Canada. It's North America's biggest film festival, and Hollywood studios came out in full force with all their award season hopefuls. NPR's Bilal Qureshi is just back from Toronto. Hey there, Bilal.


KELLY: I remember talking to you right at this time last year. You were at the first reopened festival, and you were telling me how bleak and empty it was. It sounds like a different scene this year.

QURESHI: Yeah - completely different. I think rules to get into Canada were a lot easier, so I think now you have a real reopening and with it all the entourages that go with the festival at Toronto, which is a street festival in a way 'cause the whole city sort of feels like it's participating. And I was fully back.

KELLY: Oh, sounds so much fun. OK, so let's get to the actual movies. And I suppose the big question surrounding movies these days, are people going to go back to the cinema? Will people come watch these in person? Bilal, did you see films that are going to lure us back to cinemas?

QURESHI: Definitely in terms of the scale and the kind of star power that was there, yes, but I also would say that many filmmakers tried to address your question directly by saying, this is why we love movies. This is why movies are made. Movies about the movies seem to be a big theme in the festival - nothing sort of bigger than Steven Spielberg, who made his Toronto debut with a very autobiographical and wistful memoir called "The Fabelmans," which is inspired by his childhood and his parents. And it's about how he became a filmmaker, and it's an argument for the movies as well.


SETH ROGEN: (As Benny) You stop making movies, it'll break your mother's heart.

KELLY: All right - a little taste there of what Steven Spielberg has in store for us. What about - often at Toronto, we see movies that then are headed to Oscar contender status. Did you see anything that has Academy Award material written all over it?

QURESHI: Well, I mean, "The Fabelmans," of course, and his - and Steven Spielberg's mother is played by Michelle Williams, who I think has been talked about a lot as probably the best supporting actress nominee. "The Whale," which is a new film from Darren Aronofsky and sort of stars Brendan Fraser making his return after some years away, has been divisive as a movie because it's about a morbidly obese man withdrawn, and it's, you know, in prosthetics and such. And that has been divisive. But I think his - Brendan Fraser's performance has been really acclaimed. But I would say that in general, the broader sense was that unlike previous years, people weren't only talking about the Oscars. They were really just kind of in excitement of the wide range of things that are coming.

KELLY: Bilal, what was your favorite thing that you saw?

QURESHI: Well, I saw a few things that I liked, and one was this new gay rom-com "Bros," which was the first major studio film to have kind of an all-LGBTQ cast in a kind of rom-com mold. And that's by Billy Eichner, and he stars in it.


BILLY EICHNER: (As Bobby Lieber) I love my life. I love my freedom. I love my independence.

JUSTIN COVINGTON: (As Paul) That's kind of sad.

EICHNER: (As Bobby Lieber) That I don't want to be in a throuple? I don't even want to be in a couple.

QURESHI: It's really fantastic, kind of an R-rated studio comedy in the spirit of, like, "Bridesmaids" and "Trainwreck," but also a really sharp satire of contemporary identity politics. I also loved the new movie from Sam Mendes called "Empire Of Light" that stars Olivia Colman, Colin Firth and Toby Jones as employees of a movie theater in 1980s England - again, another movie that makes the argument for movies. And I also really loved the documentary "Moonage Daydream" about David Bowie. That is designed for IMAX and is probably the best sonic, visual and, of course, David Bowie experience you could have in an IMAX theater, so it was amazing.


DAVID BOWIE: (Singing) We can be heroes.

KELLY: Ah, and - well, and I will share. I know the director of that one is Brett Morgen, which I know because we have him on the show elsewhere tonight.

QURESHI: Oh, amazing.

KELLY: Yeah, people can look forward to that. NPR's Bilal Qureshi giving us the readout from the Toronto International Film Festival. Thanks, Bilal.

QURESHI: Thank you so much, Mary Louise.

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