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The Toronto International Film Festival boosts “Green Book” with its Top Prize

Over the weekend, the Toronto International Film Festival announced their award winners for 2018. Notably, they gave out the Audience Award, which is the top prize you can get at TIFF. It went to Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, in a bit of an upset. The runner ups were, perhaps surprisingly, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, as well as Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, which meant Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born wasn’t cited. The win here for Green Book was more than a little surprising, though we said that last year about the winner, while the word out of Toronto has been incredibly positive for the flick. This is definitely a big win for it, no doubt about that.

Before we look forward, let’s look back. Specifically, let us Look at the Audience Award, historically. Thinking just in terms of its Oscar history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige. Green Book 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 two years, La La Land became an absolute nomination behemoth, while last year Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did quite well too. There are outliers, but it’s undeniably a good thing to be in this company. Buzz alone is worth a ton to everyone involved, 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
2018 – Green Book

Folks, 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 Green Book has any chance of following 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 two years and it didn’t end up happening, while last year Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sept some time as a frontrunner. 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 now, or at least more so than previously. It won’t be a juggernaut, if I had to guess, but a shutout seems unlikely now.

In terms of a potential Academy Award campaign for Green Book, this is a huge help. Now, you can conceivably look at this flick as a fairly legitimate player in multiple categories. Look for a push in Best Picture, Best Director (for Farrelly), Best Actor (for Viggo Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (for Mahershala Ali), Best Supporting Actress (for Linda Cardellini), Best Original Screenplay (for Brian Hayes Currie, Farrelly, and Nick Vallelonga), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. The two main actors are who to focus on, but hey…anything is possible now. Bet against this one at your own peril.

Here now are all of the TIFF awards given out yesterday:

Best Canadian Short Film: “Brotherhood,” Meryam Joobeur

Best Short Film: “The Field,” Sandhya Suri

City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film: “Roads in February,” Katherine Jerkovic

Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: “The Fireflies Are Gone,” Sebastien Pilote

FIPRESCI Prize for Discovery: “Float Like A Butterfly,” Carmel Winters

FIPRESCI Prize for Special Presentations: “Skin,” Guy Nattiv

Eurimages Audentia Award for Best Female Director: Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, “Fig Tree”

NETPAC Award: “The Third Wife,” Ash Mayfair (Vietnam)

Toronto Platform Prize: “City of Last Things,” Wi Ding Ho


Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award: “The Man Who Feels No Pain,” Vasan Bala

Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award: “Free Solo,” E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin

Grolsch People’s Choice Award: “Green Book,” Peter Farrelly

Stay tuned to see how Green Book does this 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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