THE BLOG
09/08/2014 01:47 EDT | Updated 11/08/2014 05:59 EST

TIFF 2014: The Best Films So Far, Fan-Girling and the Perfect Squee

The opening weekend of TIFF is always a kind of hot mess. The show's full on now, with tons of stars streaming in, crazy fans being crazy and ticket-holders just trying to get in the right line at the right time to get the right seat. The screening delays have also continued, which has turned out OK because it's giving everyone lots of time to get to where they need to be. So, let's get the important stuff out of the way first before I share some of my most memorable celeb run-ins from this past weekend:

Best films:

Gemma Bovary, a fun take on the novel Madame Bovary, also set in Normandy starring Gemma Arterton. She even speaks French in the film! I got to ask her about her recent involvement with these classic remakes - in 2010 she was here for Tamara Drewe based on Far From the Madding Crowd -- has it been a fluke or par exprès? Apparently, it's been a fluke. She even sought the blessing from the author of these graphic novel spin-offs, Posy Simmonds, who gave her the green light.

The Riot Club. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride. This is a shocking yet wholly satisfying rendition of the play starring a cast of very beautiful British actors. Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and Max Irons (The White Queen) are the new members in this notorious Oxford club. Envy and hatred take things a bit too far, and we the audience are left blown away.

Love & Mercy, starring Paul Dano and John Cusack. This film explores two parts of Brian Wilson's life: 1) when he was creating Pet Sounds and Good Vibrations while slipping further into mental illness, 2) when Melinda Ledbetter meets, dates and eventually tries to get Wilson out of an extremely negative co-dependent course of treatment with Dr. Landry. I had the chance to ask Dano about his prep for the music that he performs in the film. As it turned out, he was tutored on the piano and he both sang and lip-synched to the original tracks. He also admitted to being terrified when one of his first scenes required him to play. Frankly, you wouldn't know it.

Films to skip: Miss Julie (despite the remarkable acting) and While We're Young.

Now, on to the even better stuff -- celeb encounters:

Saturday afternoon, I was having a late lunch between films at the Shangri-la. Alan Doyle from Great Big Sea came to the bar and ordered some drinks. Of course I had to tell him how excellent they were and how I loved their concert at the Carlu a chuck of years ago. (I literally thought the floor would give way because of all the jumping we were doing.) He was very friendly, like one expects from a Maritimer/Newfoundlander. When it was time to go, I had another quick chat with him. The band played a gig nearby and he's also here to launch his book. I joked with him that I expected Russell Crowe to suddenly show up in support. (He and Crowe have played together and were in a couple of episodes of Republic of Doyle.) He totally played along, saying: "Yeah, he'll be here in 10 minutes." I continued the kidding, but now at Crowe's expense: "You know, I think you'd be the best person to help improve Russell's PR. It would take a Newfie, wouldn't?!" Nudge nudge, wink wink.

After our movies, my NYC friend and I headed to the Ritz for the third night in a row. The place was crazy busy as the Hello! Canada party was taking place in the ballroom. Trying to get a drink was a challenge too but unlike previous years, we were allowed to take them to the grand foyer. It was fantastic to sit in the middle of this gorgeous space and just people watch. Another friend of mine was set to meet us but we had no idea when. Turns out she got into a private party at the Templar Hotel -- hosted by James Franco. She finally confirmed that she was coming over and included a cryptic text: I've got everyone with me. I had no idea what that meant. Twenty-five minutes later she shows up with a few friends including David Franco, who now looks like a total doppelganger of his brother. He was a super nice guy, very chill and unassuming. It was surreal at first then it just felt like a completely normal night out with friends.

At around 3 a.m., we were now hanging around a set of comfy couches next to the lobby washrooms waiting for a few from our group. A guy on a cell then passes us on his way into the men's. OMG! I squeeze my friend's arm and say: "Did you see that?"

"No," she says, "Who was it?"

"Sam Claflin from The Riot Club," I hiss.

OMG! OMG! I'm trying to control my fan-girling.

I turn to David Franco who looks at me with this bemused smile on his face. "Excuse my squee, but this movie blew me away."

Soon, Claflin comes out.

"I'm very sorry to bother you. I'm not a stalker or anything, we were here just minding our business when you walked by."

"Yes, it's OK. I didn't see you a mile away from me earlier and I noticed all of you when I walked by," he said.

"I just have to say that the film tonight was amazing and blew me away. My friend over there is seeing the replay and when your character blah blah and then blah blah I totally blah blahed." (Don't want to spoil it for anyone.)

He admitted to being nervous about the film but we reassured him that it will be massive. He even shook my hand when I told him that I was a TIFF member, a bum-in-seat supporter.

He had very soft hands.

Sigh...