Feeling overwhelmed by the long list of movies screening at VIFF this year? CBC's Eli Glasner cuts through the long list and shares which ones are worth your time. And as of Thursday morning — these films still had tickets for sale!

Moonlight

Moonlight is a story I've never seen explored on the big screen and in such a lyrical sensitive manner. 

A story told in triptych, Moonlight follows the life of Chiron as a boy, a teen and then an adult. He is a young African American struggling with his sexuality in a community where masculinity is defined by strength and any vulnerability is a sign of weakness. 

House of Card's Mahershala Ali, The Knick's André Holland, Naomie Harris and some fresh faces all turn in memorable performances. 

Paterson

If want to see a director at the height of his powers, watch Jim Jarmusch's quiet masterpiece Paterson.

Paterson is a movie about being present. Following the rhythm of the days of week, Jarmusch presents a bus driver named Paterson, played by Adam Driver, who happens to live in Paterson, New Jersey — one of many gentle coincidences in a film about poetry, purpose and mindfulness. A movie that lulled me into seeing the world differently — at least for a little while. 

The Giant

Something about the movies from northern Europe, Sweden and Norway in particular always appeal to me — Maybe it's the way the long winters match up with Canadian sensibilities. 

The Giant is a movie of stunning originality from Sweden's Johannes Nyholm. The story is about Rikard, who has a facial deformity that affects his speech and his health. At times Rikard escapes into his own fantasy worlds where we're treated to beautiful saturated vistas.

But The Giant is also a sports film as Rikard and his guardian prepare to compete in a lawn-bowling competition. If you are tired of Hollywood's pre-fab filmmaking, the stunning storytelling of The Giant is the cure. 

Window Horses

I haven't yet seen Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming) but my peers who caught it at TIFF came back raving. If nothing else, the feature-length animated feature from NFB gets kudos for originality. A tale of a young poet who travels to Iran, with the voices of Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar? Sign me up!

Manchester by the Sea

Ben who? 2016 will be the year of Casey Affleck and this soul-churning drama about man sinking under the burden of his past is the reason why. The younger Affleck plays Lee, who is pulled back to a small New England town when his brother dies, and Lee is forced to become his nephew's guardian. With naturalistic performances, director Kenneth Lonergan delivers a film in Manchester by the Sea where the undercurrent of tragedy is never far from the surface.