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TIFF Audience Award goes to “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Yesterday afternoon, the Toronto International Film Festival announced their award winners. Notably, the Audience Award, which is the top prize at TIFF, went to Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The runner ups were, perhaps surprisingly, Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya, as well as Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. The win for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was slightly surprising, though the word out of Toronto has been incredibly positive. After taking a prize recently at the Venice Film Festival for Screenplay, it’s currently the most awarded contender of the year so far. If nothing else, that’s a nice head start for a movie such as this one.

Looking specifically at the Audience Award and thinking in terms of its history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 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. Even just last year, La La Land became an absolute nomination behemoth. There are outliers, but it’s undeniably a good thing to be in this company. Buzz alone is worth a ton to Fox Searchlight and company, in terms of getting anticipation out there for the film. 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
2017 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

As you can see from the above list, getting the People’s Choice prize is a pretty big deal. Now, we don’t know if Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 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 you never know. After all, we thought La La Land would do it last year and it didn’t end up happening. The Oscars are a long ways off, but you can bet that members of the Academy are sitting up and taking notice. Voters will potentially go for this one in some form. It won’t be a juggernaut, but a shutout seems unlikely.

In terms of a potential campaign for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, this is a huge help. Now, you can conceivably look at this flick as a legitimate player in multiple categories. Look for a push in Best Picture, Best Director (for McDonagh), Best Actress (for Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (for Sam Rockwell), Best Original Screenplay (also for McDonagh), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. Picture might end up being a stretch, but Actress and Original Screenplay seem potentially viable, with Supporting Actor also certainly in play. The season is only just getting underway, but the film has already begun to make a compelling case for itself.

Here now are all of the winners out of the Toronto International Film Festival for 2017:

Audience Award
Winner: Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Second runner-up: Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name”
First runner-up: Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya”

Midnight Madness
Winner: Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied”
Second runner-up: Craig Zahler’s “Brawl in Cell Block 99”
First runner-up: James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist”

Winner: Agnès Varda and JR’s “Faces Places”
First runner-up: Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier’s “Long Time Running”
Second runner-up: Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!”

International Platoform award
Winner: Warwick Thornton’s “Sweet Country”

Fipresci awards
Winner – Discovery: Sadaf Foroughi’s “Ava”
Winner – Special Presentations: Manuel Martín Cuenca’s “The Motive”

NETPAC award
Winner: Huang Hsin-Yao’s “The Great Buddha+”

Best Canadian short film
Winner: Marc-Antoine Lemire’s “Pre-Drink”

Best short film
Winner: Niki Lindroth von Bahr’s “The Burden”
Honorable Mentions: Matthew Rankin’s “The Tesla World Light”; Qiu Yang’s “Xiao Cheng Er Yue.”

Best Canadian first feature
Winner: Wayne Wapeemukwa’s “Luk’ Luk’l”
Honorable Mention: Sadaf Foroughi’s “Ava”

Best Canadian feature
Winner: Robin Aubert’s “Les Affamés”
Honorable Mention: Simon Lavoie’s “The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches”

Stay tuned to see how Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri does this Oscar season!

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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