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Steve McQueen's '12 Years A Slave' Wins Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award

by Kevin Jagernauth
September 15, 2013 1:58 PM
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While not always an accurate prediction of future awards season success (2011 winner "Where Do We Go Now?" was basically never heard from again), the Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award has more often than not been an early augur of a film's potential. Previous winners, including "Silver Linings Playbook," "The King's Speech" and "Slumdog Millionaire," point toward a specific kind of crowd-pleaser that tends to gain traction among audiences, though tougher films like "Precious" have also won the hearts of the TIFF movie-going public that vote on the winner. But certainly, we weren't expecting this.

In a festival filled with more obvious, and easier-to-digest contenders like Stephen Frears' "Philomena," TIFF crowds instead voted for Steve McQueen's tough, brutal and celebrated "12 Years A Slave" as this year's People's Choice Award winner. The film has been drawing nothing short of rave reviews (including our own) even if by all accounts it's a tough, wrenching watch. That being said, it was easily the most talked about movie around Toronto by a mile, and clearly those conversations resonated in a big way.

Check out the full list of winners below. Joining in the People's Choice Award were runners-up: the aforementioned "Philomena" and Denis Villeneuve's dark crime drama "Prisoners."

People's Choice Award:
"12 Years a Slave"
Runners-up: "Philomena," "Prisoners"

People's Choice Award For Documentary:
"The Square"
Runners-up: "Beyond the Edge" and "Hi-Ho Mistahey"

People's Choice Award For Midnight Madness:
"Why Don't You Play In Hell?"
Runners-up: "Oculus," "Witching & Bitching"

Best Canadian Feature Film:
"When Jews Were Funny"

Best Canadian First Feature Film:
"Asphalt Watches"

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section:

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section:
"The Amazing Catfish"

NETPAC Award For Best Asian Film:

Award For Best Canadian Short Film:
"Noah" (watch it here)

The Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award:
"All The Wrong Reasons"

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  • hg | September 16, 2013 1:04 AMReply

    prisoners is better

  • M | September 15, 2013 6:30 PMReply

    calleddd it.

  • io | September 15, 2013 4:09 PMReply

    I don't know why people are so surprised. Apart from maybe 2 scenes 12 Years is just as conventional and Oscar-baity as previous winners. Had it been in the same vein as Hunger, I would've agreed but McQueen went really mainstream with this one sorry to say.

  • Mohammed | September 15, 2013 7:34 PM

    Most Oscar and TIFF watchers were saying the same thing; It's a difficult film to watch. Compare it to earlier winners; Silver Linings Playbook, The King's Speech, Slum dog, and on and on. Gravity was the favorite. August: Osage County had a chance. 12 Years a Slave was a distance chance after Prisoners.

    I'm also not sure how mainstream is bad, unless you only believe good movies are made in the fringes. I'd call The Godfather a mainstream film. Great directors should be able to tell stories on the whole spectrum.

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