Looking back over the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival, or CIFF, which ended last weekend, there is a seemingly myriad number of films in as many categories. It’s difficult to pick just a few top films, but here are five to put on your list, some mainstream and others indie gems that will require some work and patience to find, but all worth your time and money.


 Release: Dec. 1

Starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlbarg, this fantasy-thriller directed by Guillermo del Toro is set during the Cold War, portraying espionage, government secrets and, most importantly, love. Elisa, a nonverbal cleaning lady, discovers hidden secrets behind the locked doors and connects with a strange creature. She must save him from imminent death, but the risks might be too high. Paying homage to various film genres of the past and addressing many current social situations, “The Shape of Water” is as visually gorgeous as it is intellectually and emotionally beautiful.