This past Sunday, the award winners for TIFF 2015 were announced and somehow, I ended up missing all the winners. But such is the nature of the beast at such a gargantuan festival, and now I have a number of films to look forward to. Of course, the big story was the reveal of the People's Choice Award winner, which has built up a reputation as a strong indicator for Best Picture Oscar success. This year, that honor went to Lenny Abrahamson's "Room", which was a slight surprise, beating out the popular "Spotlight" into 3rd place. But the question remains, will the Academy really find room (pun intended) for "Room" in the Best Picture lineup?
The answer to that question is especially tricky this year, which seems to be one of the most wide open races in recent history. Although "Spotlight" and "Steve Jobs" have launched to raves, no film thus far has received the slam dunk notices that propelled films like "12 Years a Slave" in the past. What it does prove however, is that Brie Larson will indeed be a force to be reckoned with in Best Actress, even if "Room" ultimately misses out. Additionally, the 3rd place showing for "Spotlight" further confirms that it will play gangbusters to audiences when it finally releases. I think we have our frontrunner.
In terms of the other awards handed out, their impact on the Oscar race is likely to be minimal. At best, we may see some of these being submitted by their respective countries as Foreign Language submissions next year. The NETPAC winner for Best Asian Film premiere "The Whispering Star" could also be Japan's submission next year, but they are always impossible to predict. Among the FIPRESCI critics' prizewinners, Czech-Slovak co-production "Eva Nová" could potentially follow in the footsteps of "Ida", which also won a FIPRESCI award at TIFF 2013.
As we head into the New York Film Festival and AFI Fest though, we'll soon have a clearer idea of where everything stands. For now, here's the list of award winners from the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival:
People's Choice Award (Narrative Feature)
2nd Place: Angry Indian Godesses
3rd Place: Spotlight
People's Choice Award (Documentary Feature)
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom
2nd Place: This Changes Everything
3rd Place: Al Purdy Was Here
Discovery Programme Award
FIPRESCI Award (Discovery)
FIPRESCI Award (Special Presentations)
Midnight Madness Award
2nd Place: The Final Girls
3rd Place: Green Room
The Whispering Star
Special Jury Mentions: Neon Bull, The Promised Land, and The Clan
Best Canadian Feature
Special Jury Mention: My Internship in Canada
Best Canadian First Feature