The red carpets have rolled up and the famous faces have headed home to Hollywood. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2018 has officially wrapped.

As usual, the coveted film festival was filled with newsworthiness and talking points – from the films to the fashion.

Here are some of Best of Toronto’s personal best TIFF highlights….

Dining with Nicole Kidman
While we didn’t exactly dine with screen legend Nicole Kidman, we sat just a few tables away at the cast dinner for her film Destroyer, which also stars Canadian star Tatiana Maslany. The dinner was presented by Grey Goose and took over the second floor of Soho House for a family-style feast from Chef Ludo Lefebvre, who is known for trailblazing L.A.’s pop-up restaurant scene. The comforting and delicious meal featured salmon with sorrel sauce, market vegetable ratatouille, roasted chicken, and steak au poivre with frites. A smiley Kidman stunned in a cream-coloured power suit and chatted with a steady steam of (presumably) colleagues, who visited her place at the head table throughout the two-hour affair.

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 10: Chef Ludo Lefebvre (L) and Nicole Kidman at the “DESTROYER” cast dinner hosted by GREY GOOSE Vodka and Soho House at Soho House Toronto on September 10, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Sipping Grey Goose with (i.e. in the Same Room as) the Stars
Some of the most ultra exclusive TIFF affairs are the super exclusive Grey Goose cast dinners and film parties, which take place at Soho House and are top secret until they wrap. This year, Grey Goose hosted names like Kiera Knightley (for the Colette after-party), Jude Law and Natalie Portman (for the Vox Lux celebration), and Susan Sarandon and Kit Harington (for the Death and Life of John F. Donovan after-party). Grey Goose cocktails flowed freely at these parties, including the “Magic Hour,” a cocktail made with Grey Goose L’Orange, orange juice, vanilla syrup, and unsweetened coconut milk; and the “Le Fizz,” a longtime Grey Goose staple made with Grey Goose, St-Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh lime juice and soda. Read more about what went down at the A-list cast parties here.

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Jude Law, Brady Corbet and Natalie Portman at the VOX LUX premiere party hosted by GREY GOOSE Vodka and Soho House at Soho House Toronto on September 7, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Grey Goose)

Doing (i.e. Watching) Live Band Karaoke at Mongrel House
One of the best – and most entertaining – party perks of TIFF is the live band karaoke on the second floor of Mongrel House, a multi-night TIFF celebration that took over the historic Campbell House Museum and its grounds. The live band karaoke – where your karaoke game is helped with a live band behind you – contributed to the house party-like vibe at this spot, loosening up the crowd and removing any pretentiousness. Other talking points here included an assortment of food stations, live performances, a gelato station, ping-pong, and a VR lounge.

Rocking Out to Dwayne Gretzky at RBC House
Okay, so it was more like standing awkwardly in the corner, but enjoying the quality cover tunes just the same. On Monday night (September 10), popular local band Dwayne Gretzky took over the third floor at RBC House – a pop-up initiative that filled the space at 11 Duncan with press conferences, musical performances this TIFF – at an event to honour Stan Smith. The high-energy affair – which attracted notable guests like Max Kerman, lead singer of the Arkells – had the crowd dancing to feel-good favourites like “Take on Me,” “Call Me Al,” and “That Thing.”

TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 10: A band performs at Stan Smith’s Book Launch, hosted by RBC House, during 2018 Toronto International Film Festival at RBC House on September 10, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for RBC)

The People Watching at the Birks Diamond Tribute
The rain couldn’t keep Toronto’s most fashionable from flocking to the Atrium at Ricardas on Monday night (September 10) – and the outfit inspiration/pretty people watching opportunities were abundant. The sixth annual Birks Diamond Tribute to the year’s Women in Film celebrates Canadian filmmakers and always attracts a fashionable crowd thanks to its association with the beloved (and Canadian) Birks brand. This year’s editorial-worthy guests included Laura Vandervoort, Amanda Brugel, and Grego Minot (The Real Housewives of Toronto), to name a few.

Photo: Nick Lee

Photo: Nick Lee


Beaming with Pride for Xavier Dolan
We couldn’t have been prouder of 29-year-old Xavier Dolan – a Montreal native – if we actually knew him personally. During a “Coffee with Creators” panel at RBC House – at initiative by Nespresso and RBC that’s designed to shine the spotlight on emerging talent – cast members of Dolan’s English-language directorial debut praised Dolan on his unique talents as a director. Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington called him the most passionate person he has ever worked with, while Thandie Newton praised him for creating a level of equilibrium (as opposed to a typical hierarchy) on set.

Photo credit: Eric Charbonneau, Getty Images for RBC


Letting Loose at the Hollywood North Party
The Hollywood North party, held at Assembly Chef’s Hall, offered a relaxed, interactive vibe that invited guests to party a lot harder than they would on an average Monday night. Appreciated party perks included many food stations, a fashion showcase, a busy photo booth (it involved a swing, after all), a live musical performance, and a gift bag filled with surprises.

The Important Message at the L’OREAL Worth It Show
TIFF kicked off with an important discussion on Friday, September 7 that focused on the current climate of women in film. Making its TIFF debut after its inception at the Cannes International Film Festival, the L’Oréal Paris #WorthIt Show featured L’Oréal Paris Canada brand ambassadors, Andie MacDowell and Amber Heard, along with TIFF Share Her Journey Ambassador Shohreh Aghdashloo, and host Sangita Patel, from ET Canada. The message was loud and clear: we need to do all that we can to increase the participation, skills, and opportunities for women in film, and TIFF is fully committed to this cause.

Photo: Nick Lee

Photo: Nick Lee


The Suite Swag
For members of the media, the first few days pre-TIFF are basically like Christmas morning, as we are treated to the suite life of the stars at Toronto’s assortment of pop-up gifting suites. At Stylist Box’s Stylist Suite, media enjoyed skin consultations from PearlIMD as well as makeup tips from Victoria Radford. Meanwhile, over at EGPR’s annual Essentials Lounge, guests left with things like KEDS sneakers, the new DKNY Stories fragrance, and sweatshirts from the Tuck Shop Trading Co. Rock-it’s Suite on the Sixth lounge got to take home an assortment of great gifts, like Casper pillows, soaps and body bars from The Perth Soap Co, BOGS boots, and a striped Hudson’s Bay tote bag, just to name a few things. At the Thompson Hotel, guests of Glo Communications’ Bask-It-Style suite received things like jewellery from Anne-Marie Chagnon jewellery, heels from House of Hayla, Crazy D’s Probiotic Craft Soda, and products from Boissance.

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Erin Davis