Winning the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival is no guarantee of commercial success or awards season accolades, but the recognition certainly can’t hurt. Of the previous five winners, two went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech) and only one, Lebanese film Where Do We Go Now? failed to secure a nomination. Other past winners of the award include Hotel Rwanda, American Beauty, The Princess Bride, and Chariots of Fire.
With that in mind, Steve McQueen, Brad Pitt, and the rest of the folks behind 12 Years A Slave have to be feeling pretty good right about now. 160 years after its initial publication, the true story account of a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery is getting a second life. After a highly praised premier at Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, the picture captured similarly affirming reviews from critics and audiences alike at TIFF. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays author of the account Solomon Northrup, and Michael Fassbender are already at the fore of awards conversations for their work in the movie.
Steven Frear’s true story Philomena, starring Judi Dench as a woman in search of her long-lost son, and Denis Villeneuve’s thriller Prisoners, featuring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, were runners up. Both are considered relative long shots come awards season, but high praise for both and the TIFF recognition could help propel both to more prominent positions in an increasingly packed final quarter of the year.