Well, it’s an important Oscar question and somebody HAD to ask it. Who will win the Audience Award at TIFF? Last year, the award went to, and I knew it would, “The King’s Speech” which had a groundswell of opinion and support at last year’s TIFF. It was on everyone’s list. And at the top at that and beloved, even then.
So when it eventually went on to win the Oscar, I wasn’t surprised.
Of course, this was an award granted by English Canada, to an English film.
This year, I felt none of that consensus. So predicting this award is virtually impossible. Or is it? Well, I’m going to do it any way or at least list some films it MIGHT be.
“The Artist” I thought, after seeing the tumultuous, joyous reception it got at Montreal and that I heard that it got at Cannes, I thought this would be a slam dunk. Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone loved it. And I did too. The black and white and SILENT hat trick is a truly marvelous cinematic achievement. A French film about the Silent Film Era AND in black and white! How can this film overcome all that to win people’s hearts? But it does. This is what I thought going in to TIFF.
I didn’t feel “The King’s Speech” groundswell/consensus at TIFF. It should’ve been there. But it wasn’t. This surprised me. Maybe it has something to do with this being a French film….and well, y’know, there is still much antipathy to the French speakers in the OTHER big Canadian province, sad to say. It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. And this may explain the lack of amour for the marvelous “Artist.” I don’t think Toronto audiences ever have rewarded a French film in this category. The only one they award!
Maybe it will eventually triumph with the Audiences of Toronto. But there’s also the George Clooney movie “The Descendants” which unfortunately I haven’t seen, but will catch up with soon at the New York Film Festival, which is already upon us.
Many people liked this Alexander Payne film. His “Sideways” had that same TIFF launch, also, many years back, and that also went on to win the Audience Choice award. “Sideways” went on to win many, many Oscar nominations but only won one, for Alexander Payne for Original Screenplay. But I think Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” has that one sewn up. They loved George. I did sense I was in the middle of Clooney-mania…but…was it his performance more than the film? Or will Alexander Payne after a long absence from center stage be back in the spotlight, and an Oscar front-runner, if “The Descendants” wins this important award, from the people of Toronto, remember. NOT the press. No critics were involved. TIFF doesn’t hand out prizes like Cannes, and Montreal, and many other festivals do. It’s the people’s choice.. And Torontonians are such committed, avid film buffs all. They literally have to suffer and go through hell to see these movies, the demand is soooo great. They sell every seat. Yes, they do.
Then there’s also “Machine Gun Preacher” which was the best film I saw. Will socially conscious Toronto audiences respond to its’ challenging subject matter? The genocide in Sudan and Darfur. A subject that has never been treated by a mainstream award-worthy film? Like “Slumdog Millioniare” a film I didn’t take seriously til it won here. And then I was like, “Whoa! Have I missed something?” And “Slumdog Millionaire” as improbable as it sounded at the time, WAS the film you were hearing about constantly.
I didn’t see “Shame” or “Ides of March” but the reaction to both was mixed . I would be SHOCKED, SHOCKED! if it was Toronto home boy David Cronenberg’s latest misfire “A Dangerous Method.” Toronto audiences…do they have a habit of embracing their own? Not so much….but…
Well, it may be one of these films. There. I’ve narrowed down the list and lessened the unbearable suspense.
On Sunday, we’ll know.