The Toronto Film Festival threw a bit of a curve ball Sunday, announcing that Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” had claimed this year’s People’s Choice Award. The prize, often an awards season harbinger, has gone to films such as “American Beauty,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The King’s Speech” and “12 Years a Slave” in the past.
The bestseller adaptation began its journey at the Telluride Film Festival two weeks ago, where it was one of the most popular films of the fest. It is in a prime position to be A24’s first best picture nominee to date, with Brie Larson a sure-fire leading actress contender and 8-year-old Jacob Tremblay a strong supporting actor possibility.
Most eyes were on Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” for the award, as it is a broadly appealing, thoroughly satisfying drama with stars. It did, however, win the second runner-up designation.
Other films that played the fest and built awards season buzz included “Black Mass,” “Brooklyn,” “The Danish Girl” and “Truth.” But “Room” wins this round.
Elsewhere, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s “Black” won Toronto’s Discovery programme award; short film prizes went to “Maman(s)” and “Overpass”; Andrew Cividino’s “Sleeping Giant” won best Canadian first feature; the best Canadian feature award went to Stephen Dunn’s “Closet Monster”; 24th annual FIPRESCI honors were awarded to Marko Skop’s “Eva Nová” and Jonás Cuarón’s “Diesierto”; Sion Sono’s “The Whispering Star” won the NETPAC award for world or international premiere; and the new juried Platform prize went to Alan Zweig’s “Hurt.”
Finally, Ilya Naishuller’s “Hardcore” won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness award, while Evgeny Afineevsky’s “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” won the People’s Choice documentary award.