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Contenders from the Toronto Film Festival

Ryan Gosling dark shot
Time is just flying on by, isn’t it folks? Over this past weekend, the Toronto International Film Festival (or TIFF) began to wrap up, giving out awards and setting up some potential contenders for the impending Oscar season. This came hot on the heels of the Venice Film Festival launching things like Arrival, Jackie, La La Land, and Nocturnal Animals into the race. Many of those then played at Toronto as well, further boosting their bonafides. With TIFF over and the New York Film Festival up next, I wanted to see what the big contenders are now, coming from up north. Knowledge is power, ladies and gentlemen, so let’s gain some today!

This year, TIFF managed to continue the buzz built at Venice for the aforementioned Arrival, Jackie, La La Land, and Nocturnal Animals, while putting out Lion and Moonlight into the world. Also of note was Loving, which is a veteran of the Cannes Film Festival, as well as a special presentation of some footage from Hidden Figures, which could turn out to be a player. Lion definitely got a big boost, as it was to that point only rumored as a push from The Weinstein Company. Moonlight probably got the best reviews overall, though La La Land continued its early dominance, especially when it took the Audience Award. As a reminder, TIFF gave that prize to the song and dance flick over Lion and the more fringe player Queen of Katwe. Keep that in mind, as it’s just the first of many huzzahs.

Looking at those specific eight titles, you see some definite potential with the Academy. If I had to guess, La La Land will fare better than any of the other big contenders so far. There doesn’t appear to be anything immediately in danger of being shut out, but it’s early. La La Land is the closest we have to a sure thing, due to its content and nature. The award was just another feather in its cap. One or two of these might suffer if an NYFF player like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk supplants as a thing, but that remains to be seen. Right now, TIFF is still fresh in our minds.

Natalie Portman in Jackie
As a quick reminder before we wrap up, here again are the awards that were given out at TIFF:

*Audience Award: La La Land (First Runner Up: Lion / Second Runner Up: Queen of Katwe)*

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

Essentially, TIFF put forward a bunch of new contenders, though it didn’t particularly alter the race in any major way. La La Land still feels like the one to beat across the board. My guess is that if something supplants it, it’ll be an unseen player like Live by Night or Silence, though that’s just a suspicion on my part. Anything is possible. All I know is that the people up in Toronto raved about much of what they saw, to one degree or another. That should make for a promising precursor season, so strap in. It’s going to be a fun rest of the year…

Stay tuned for much more from hopefully all of these contenders as the season progresses!

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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