2018 Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Award: ‘Green Book’ wins on way to Oscars

Peter Farrelly‘s heartwarming comedy-drama “Green Book” won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday (Sept. 17). Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) plays classical pianist Don Shirley and Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen is his tough-talking driver Tony Lip, who accompanies him on a tour of the segregated south of the 1960s. This crowdpleaser will be released by Universal on Nov. 21 just as awards season kicks into high gear.

While higher profile pictures played at bigger theaters multiple times, the festival ensures there is fairness in the  process by giving this award to the film that inspires the biggest percentage of its total audience to vote online. Second place went to Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” while Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” was third.

This win for “Green Book” certainly raises its Oscar hopes. Of the previous 40 TIFF champs, 16 reaped Best Picture bids at the Academy Awards and five of the Toronto favorites went on to win the top Oscar: “Chariots of Fire” (1981), “American Beauty” (1999), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), “The King’s Speech” (2010) and “12 Years a Slave” (2013).

Last year’s favorite at Toronto, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” fell short in the top race at the Oscars to “The Shape of Water.” However it did win Oscars for leading lady Frances McDormand and scene stealer Sam Rockwell. The 2016 TIFF winner, “La La Land,” came painfully close to being the sixth double dipper. It did win six of its 14 Oscar bids, including both Best Director (Damien Chazelle) and Best Actress (Emma Stone).

The other nine TIFF also-rans at the Oscars were “The Big Chill” (1983), “Places in the Heart” (1984), “Shine” (1996), “Life is Beautiful” (1998), “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), “Precious” (2009), “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012), “The Imitation Game” (2014) and “Room” (2015). That dark drama contended for four Oscars, winning Best Actress (Brie Larson).

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In all, 29 of the TIFF top choices have contended in at least one category at the Oscars, winning 53 awards from 155 nominations. And over the years, the stars of 19 TIFF picks for best pic scored a collective 37 Oscar nominations for their performers. Before McDormand, Rockwell, Stone and Larson, nine others won: Sally Field for “Places in the Heart” (Actress, 1984), Mercedes Ruehl for “The Fisher King” (Best Supporting Actress, 1991), Geoffrey Rush for “Shine” (Actor, 1996), Roberto Benigni for “Life is Beautiful” (Best Actor, 1998), Kevin Spacey for “American Beauty” (Best Actor, 1999), Mo’Nique for “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” (Best Supporting Actress, 2009), Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech” (Best Actor, 2010), Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” (Best Actress, 2012) and Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave” (Best Supporting Actress, 2013).

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.

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