Delicious Oscar bait
It’s the moment all of Toronto (well, Film Twitter at least) has been waiting for: Toronto International Film Festival has announced its winners. The festival, which ran between 5-15 September, has seen the world premieres of the latest films from esteemed and up-and-coming directors. The big winners include Peter Farrelly’s Green Book and were announced at the festival’s closing ceremony at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
This year, Green Book has won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. This award lets attendees vote on film submissions, and the accolade also includes a $15,000 cash prize (nice!) and a custom award. In second place was If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of the novel by James Baldwin, green-lit with a little help from Jake Gyllenhaal. The third runner-up for the award was Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a much-lauded Spanish language story about childcare workers in 1970s Mexico, produced by Netflix and the subject of some debate over at Cannes earlier this summer. Surprisingly A Star Is Born didn’t make it to the finalists of this influential award – any Gaga fans’ plans to vote twice were scuppered by TIFF cracking down on the online voting process.
While Green Book is basically already guaranteed a couple of statuettes next spring, even for Oscar bait it looks like a fantastic movie – audiences definitely thought so. Directed by Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary; Dumb and Dumber), it strays away from his usual style and is inspired by true events. Starring the killer team of Viggo Mortensen (maybe this year he’ll get his Academy Award) and Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, House of Cards), it tells the story of an unlikely friendship between Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip, and the man he is hired to chauffeur, world-class Black concert pianist Dr. Don Shirley, during a concert tour through the Deep South in 1962.
Mortensen and Ali are in roles more daring than anything they’ve portrayed previously, and although it looks to have all the ingredients of a good buddy movie, somehow offers something unique. Tackling head-on issues of racism and class at a highly volatile time, it seems just as relevant to the world today as it was to the US in 1962.
As TIFF let us know in a Tweet, plenty of other awards have been dished out at the festival, too:
IWC Short Cuts Award (Best Canadian Short Film): Brotherhood – dir. Meryam Joobeur
IWC Short Cuts Award (Best Short Film): The Field – dir. Sandhya Suri
City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Roads in February – dir. Katherine Jerkovic
International Federation of Film Critics Prizes: Float Like A Butterfly – dir. Carmel Winters
Eurimages’ Audentia Award (Best Female Director): Fig Tree – dir. Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian
Toronto Platform Prize (Awarded by Air France): Cities of Last Things – dir. Wi Ding Ho
Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award: The Man Who Feels No Pain – dir. Vasan Bala
Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award: Free Solo – dirs. E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Although the big contenders – everyone at Telluride, Venice, and Toronto this summer – have packed up and headed home, for many directors, this is only the start of their festival season. With New York Film Festival starting this week and BFI’s London Film Festival coming up in the next month (watch this space), we’re going to start seeing raving reviews and theatrical releases for a whole range of feature films hoping to luck out next February.
Some of the biggest contenders are in little doubt – but if we’ve learned anything from previous years, it’s that you just can’t predict which will win. Here’s my general prediction anyway: A Star is Born and Roma are up to jostle for Best Picture (duh), First Man‘s Damien Chazelle for Best Director (Alien Chazelle?), Best Actor to Viggo Mortensen (he deserves it after all this time), and… well, the others can fight among themselves. Or maybe, on the back of his almost-win at Toronto, Barry Jenkins will just waltz right in and steal the show again.