Autobiographical coming-of-age drama directed by Steven Spielberg The People's Choice Award, the festival's top honour, went to The Fabelmans, confirming its early position as an Academy Awards front-runner.
The largest North American film festival, Toronto, concluded its 47th edition on Sunday, marking its first substantial gathering in three years. The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and Bros., starring Billy Eichner, all had their world premieres at TIFF as a result of the return of the crowds.
The audience award for Toronto, chosen by festival attendees, is a widely followed signpost of the upcoming awards season. The TIFF winner has gone on to be nominated for best film at the Oscars each of the past ten years, and has frequently won it. Last year, a significantly scaled-back hybrid Toronto International Film Festival saw Kenneth Branagh's Belfast prevail. The year prior, Chloé Zhao's Nomadland won the TIFF prize before taking home the Oscar. Other previous wins include Green Book, La La Land, and 12 Years a Slave.
The Fabelmans, Spielberg's film about his boyhood that is loaded with memories, was the most anticipated film of the festival this year. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the parents in the film, which Universal Pictures will release on November 11. Newcomer Gabriel LaBelle plays the teenage Spielberg, Sammy Fabelman. After its debut, the movie received glowing reviews.
Spielberg remarked in a statement that was read aloud by Cameron Bailey, the festival director, "This is the most personal picture I've created and the amazing welcome from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire "Fabelman" family."
First runner-up for the award went to Sarah Polley's Woman Talking, which tells the story of the women of a Mennonite colony who came together to talk about years of sexual assault. Johnson's Glass Onion, the director's Netflix whodunit follow-up, was named the second runner-up.
The People's Choice awards are also decided by the festival's various audiences. Black Ice, a documentary directed by Hubert Davis and executive produced by LeBron James, won the festival's audience award for best documentary. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a parody music biopic created by Eric Appel and Al Yankovic and starring Daniel Radcliffe, won the midnight segment.
In a statement, Appel exclaimed, "Wow." I never in a million years imagined that our parody of classic award shows would actually take home a prize.