“La La Land” takes the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival

toronto film festival 2011 600x198
Yesterday, the Toronto International Film Festival gave out its awards for 2016, with Damien Chazelle’s La La Land taking the top prize. That distinction, the People’s Choice prize, also known as the Audience Award, puts it into some very strong company (for those wondering, the first runner up was Lion, while the second runner up was Queen Of Katwe). The original musical, which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has been winning over viewers for a few weeks now, starting out at the Venice Film Festival, continuing at the Telluride Film Festival, and now charming everyone at Toronto. At this point, it was already considered the frontrunner in Best Picture, but now, one can say it with more distinction. Frankly, it’s hard not to consider this the one to beat right now.

In terms of this particular award and its history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige. La La Land now joins a group that has five prior Best Picture winners, along with a whole host of nominees since the prize was introduced in the late 1970’s. Just look here at the list of what has won since the Audience Award was originally instituted:

1978 – Girlfriends
1979 – Best Boy
1980 – Bad Timing
1981 – Chariots of Fire
1982 – Tempest
1983 – The Big Chill
1984 – Places in the Heart
1985 – The Official Story
1986 – The Decline of the American Empire
1987 – The Princess Bride
1988 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
1989 – Roger & Me
1990 – Cyrano de Bergerac
1991 – The Fisher King
1992 – Strictly Ballroom
1993 – The Snapper
1994 – Priest
1995 – Antonia
1996 – Shine
1997 – The Hanging Garden
1998 – Life Is Beautiful
1999 – American Beauty
2000 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2001 – Amélie
2002 – Whale Rider
2003 – Zatōichi
2004 – Hotel Rwanda
2005 – Tsotsi
2006 – Bella
2007 – Eastern Promises
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Precious
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – Where Do We Go Now?
2012 – Silver Linings Playbook
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – The Imitation Game
2015 – Room
2016 – La La Land

Emma Stone LA LA Land
As you can see, getting the People’s Choice prize is a pretty big deal. Now, we don’t know if La La Land is going to follow in the footsteps of Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and 12 Years a Slave, going the distance to an Oscar win in Best Picture, but the odds are certainly not bad. The Academy Award is a ways off, but you can bet that members of the Academy are sitting up and taking notice. Voters will likely go for this in a big way. Prepare for nomination morning to be all about this musical.

Looking at a potential campaign, this film has across the board potential and is the early favorite to lead the Oscar nominations. Look for a big push in Best Picture, Best Director (for Chazelle), Best Actor (for Gosling), Best Actress (for Stone), Best Supporting Actor (for John Legend), Best Supporting Actress (for Rosemarie DeWitt), Best Original Screenplay (also for Chazelle), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Hairstyling & Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song (likely times two). Not only does this seem like a double digit nominee, you could easily be looking at a dozen nominations coming its way, and that makes for an unlikely juggernaut.

Ryan Gosling Emma Stone

Here now are the other awards given out at TIFF yesterday, including a win for potentially big contender Jackie and the 2017 release Free Fire:

Dropbox Discovery Programme Filmmakers Award: Jeffrey

Short Cuts Awards (Canadian): Mutants

Short Cuts Awards Best Short Film: Imago

City Of Toronto Award Best First Canadian Feature: Old Stone

Canada Goose Best Canadian Feature: Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves

Fipresci Jury Prize, Discovery Section Kati Kati

Special Presentation Section: I Am Not Madame Bovary

Network For Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award: In Between

Toronto Platform Prize: Jackie

Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award: Free Fire

Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award: I Am Not Your Negro

Ryan Gosling dark shot
Stay tuned for lots more on La La Land and especially this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, with another piece coming later on this week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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