Do TIFF 2011 winners help the Oscar race? – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell No “Descendants.” No “Artist.” No major Oscar contenders made the list when the Toronto International Film Festival announced its 2011 awards winners on Sunday afternoon, adding very little clarity to the still-developing Oscar race.

Instead, Lebanese foreign film submission “Where Do We Go Now?,” directed by Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”), took home the Cadillac People’s Choice Award, upsetting Michel Hazanavicius’s, which some analysts thought would walk away with the trophy. Labaki’s drama, which I honestly heard very little about, involves about a group of Lebanese women who come up with “some creative schemes to counter violence in their town,” according to a studio’s release.

Of the other announced winners, only Gareth Evans’ “The Raid,” a People’s Choice winner in the Midnight Madness category, generated serious buzz from attendees at the fest.

Would a TIFF award help a film’s fledgling Oscar campaign? Sure. Every feather in the cap helps. But most potential Oscar nominees, including virtually anything produced within the Hollywood studio system, will have to be content with the tangible buzz generated among journalists and Oscar trackers with screenings at last week’s festival.

Up next? The New York Film Festival, where North America will get their first look at Roman Polanski’s “Carnage” and “My Week with Marilyn,” starring Michelle Williams as silver screen icon Marilyn Monroe.

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