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Toronto Audience Award Goes To “Jojo Rabbit”

Yesterday, the Toronto International Film Festival handed out their awards. Notably, the Audience Award, which is the top prize at TIFF, went to Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit. The runner ups were, rather unsurprisingly, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, as well as Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. The win for Jojo Rabbit may surprise some, as reviews were kind yet not out and out raves, though the audiences out of Toronto have been all over this one, paving the way for this win. Holding off the presumed Oscar frontrunner in Marriage Story, which wowed at the Telluride Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, as well as the Palme d’Or winner from the Cannes Film Festival in Parasite, bodes well for this movie. Waititi’s satire is an Academy Award player now, that’s for sure.

Looking specifically at the Audience Award and thinking in terms of its history, this is a somewhat reliable indicator of prestige, especially with the Academy. Jojo Rabbit now joins a group that has seen a half dozen 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, Green Book won the whole shebang, while previously La La Land became an absolute nomination behemoth, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did quite well for itself too. 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. Fox Searchlight especially knows the value of this prize. 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
2017 – Green Book
2019 – Jojo Rabbit

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 Jojo Rabbit is ultimately going to follow in the footsteps of Chariots of Fire, American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, and Green Book, going the distance to an Oscar win in Best Picture, but you never know. After all, we thought La La Land would do it a few years ago and it didn’t end up happening, while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri came pretty close as well. The Oscars are a long ways off (though not as long as in years past), 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.

Here are some of the big TIFF awards given out this year:

Winner: Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit

First runner-up: Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story
Second runner-up: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite

Winner: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s The Platform

First runner-up: Andrew Patterson’s The Vast of Night
Second runner-up: Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum

Winner: Feras Fayyad’s The Cave

First runner-up: Garin Hovannisian’s I Am Not Alone
Second runner-up: Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dads

Stay tuned to see how Jojo Rabbit does during the impending awards 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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