Taika Waititiâ€™s â€œJojo Rabbitâ€ has won the coveted Peopleâ€™s Choice Award at this yearâ€™s Toronto International Film Festival.
The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. Thatâ€™s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy set in the waning days of the Nazi Empire. Reviewers faulted the picture for delivering satire without the necessary sting, generally agreeing that â€œJojo Rabbitâ€ had stumbled out of the gate.
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That no longer appears to be the case. Torontoâ€™s top prize has uncanny predictive powers when it comes to selecting future Oscar winners. Last yearâ€™s winner, â€œGreen Book,â€ went on to capture the Academy Award for Best Picture. Previous victors include â€œLa La Land,â€ â€œRoom,â€ â€œThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,â€ and â€œThe Imitation Game,â€ all of which went on to score with Oscar voters and other awards bodies. That track record has also helped position the festival as a key stop for awards season hopefuls.
The first runner-up for the Peopleâ€™s Choice award was Noah Baumbachâ€™s â€œMarriage Storyâ€ and the second runner-up was Bong Joon-hoâ€™s â€œParasite,â€ both of which were more warmly received by critics. Netflix is backing â€œMarriage Story,â€ a bruising portrait of a disintegrating relationship that has been likened to â€œKramer vs. Kramer.â€ Neon is releasing â€œParasite,â€ a twisty thriller that provides a blistering commentary on income inequality.
Awards sages believe that â€œMarriage Storyâ€ could score a Best Picture Oscar nod along with nominations for Baumbachâ€™s direction and screenplay, as well as for the performances of Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, and Laura Dern. â€œParasiteâ€ seems destined to be a Best International Feature Film prize and could even elbow into the Best Picture and Best Director categories.
â€œJojo Rabbitâ€ stars Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Waititi, doing double duty as a buffoonish and imaginary Adolf Hitler. The film centers on a 10-year old boy whose love of the Nazi leader is challenged when he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish teenager.
â€œâ€œThank you to the Toronto International Film Festival audiences for this tremendous honor,â€ Waititi said in a statement. â€œâ€˜Jojo Rabbitâ€™ is a story of tolerance and understanding set in a time that lacked both, and I hope in making this film we can remind ourselves that itâ€™s still possible to connect with each other even under the most chaotic of circumstancesâ€”no matter what age, religion, race or gender.â€
This yearâ€™s festival included several splashy premieres. â€œHustlers,â€ â€œJoker,â€ and â€œJust Mercyâ€ were among the big studio releases that raised their profiles by screening in Canada. â€œJokerâ€ took the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, where it had its world premiere before heading to Toronto.
The Peopleâ€™s Choice Award in the Midnight Madness section, the festivalâ€™s genre platform, went to Galder Gaztelu-Urrutiaâ€™s â€œThe Platform,â€ a thriller set in a dystopian future, and the documentary prize was handed out to â€œThe Cave,â€ Feras Fayyadâ€™s look at a doctor working in war-torn Syria.
Midnight Madness runner-up awards went to Andrew Pattersonâ€™s â€œThe Vast of Nightâ€ and Jeff Barnabyâ€™s â€œBlood Quantum.â€ In the documentary section the runners-up were Garin Hovannisianâ€™s â€œI Am Not Aloneâ€ and Bryce Dallas Howardâ€™s â€œDads.â€ â€œThe Vast of Night,â€ a sci-fi thriller thatâ€™s been likened to â€œThe Twilight Zone,â€ scored a big sale to Amazon, while â€œDadsâ€ sold to Apple.