'Chariots Of Fire' (1981)
Most well known for its iconic instrumental theme song, Hugh Hudon's "Chariots of Fire" is the first winner of both the TIFF People's Choice award and the Oscar for Best Picture. The film tells the story of two athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics. Eric Liddel (played by Ian Charleson), a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God and Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross), an English Jew running to overcome prejudice. "Chariots of Fire" was nominated for a slew of awards, including seven Academy Awards of which it won four.
'The Big Chill' (1983)
A group of baby boomer college friends reunite after fifteen years after one of their friends commits suicide. Directed by Lawrence Kasdan and starring Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, Meg Tilly the film was given the highest praise at the Toronto International Film Festival, taking home the People's Choice award. Fast forward to awards season, the film picked up three Oscar nods, two Golden Globes and a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay.
'Life Is Beautiful' (1998)
Cineflies everywhere will remember Roberto Benigni's now famous seat walk down to the stage at the Academy Awards to give his exuberant acceptance speech after winning Best Actor at the 71st Academy Awards, but you might not know that the Italian comedy-drama about a Jewish book shop owner who uses his imagination to shield his son form the horrors of internment in a Nazi concentration camp was also the audience favourite film at TIFF. The People's Choice winner snagged an Oscar for Benigni, as well as Best Music, Original Dramatic Score and Best Foreign Language film.
'American Beauty' (1999)
A satirical look at American middle class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction, "American Beauty" was widely considered one of the best film's of 1999. TIFF director, Piers Handling, said, "American Beauty was the buzz of the festival, the film most talked about." Not only did "American Beauty" win big with audiences, taking home TIFF's coveted People's Choice award, the film went on to slaughter award season, winning 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The picture also took home awards in all three categories it was nominated in at that year's SAG awards and won Best Motion Picture at the Globes.
'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' (2000)
That's right, Ang Lee's martial arts film starring Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi picked up the TIFF People's Choice award before it went on to win Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Unfortunately "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" didn't win the Oscar, losing the Best Picture statue to Ridley Scott's "Gladiator. With the dialogue in Mandarin and made on a $17 million dollar budget, the film not only picked up a lot of hardware during award season, it became a surprise international success, grossing $213.5 million.
'Slumdog Millionaire' (2008)
Danny Boyle's adaptation of Vikas Swarup's 2005 novel Q & A won the TIFF People's Choice award before it went on to sweep awards season, taking home the BAFTA, Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Picture as well as a slew of other awards for its director and stars Dev Patel and Frida Pinto, who consequently became household names soon after.
TIFF can be the breeding ground for peaked interest for certain films and 2009's "Precious" did just that. As we've said, TIFF audiences have a great eye for films and their interest in a film can ignite a media storm leading up to awards season. In the case of "Precious," the feeling was mutual. Director Lee Daniels dedicated his People's Choice award win to TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey citing his "unparalleled" support. After winning the award in Toronto, the story of an abused teenager who struggles to survive in Harlem went on to capture the hearts of Hollywood, picking up a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination in the Best Picture category. Actress Monique became the year's award darling, snagging the SAG, Golden Globe and Oscar for her portrayal of Precious' abusive mother.
'The King's Speech' (2010)
The fourth TIFF People's Choice award winner in TIFF history to go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars was "The King's Speech" and historical drama surrounding King George VI's battle with a speech impediment. After his younger brother abdicates the throne, the George must rely on a speech therapist to help him make his first wartime radio broadcast, Britain's declaration of war on Germany in 1939. Starring TIFF fan favourite Colin Firth as King George and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, the Australian speech and language therapist who helps the new King cope with his stammer, the film was loved by TIFF audiences and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association alike.
'Silver Linings Playbook' (2012)
We're not sure if it was Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence's chemistry that stunned audiences or the captivating, inspired by true life events of "Silver Linings Playbook", but Hollywood agreed, nominating David O Russell's film in the Best Picture category at the 85th annual Academy Awards. Unfortunately, it lost out to another film that screened at TIFF that year, "Argo".
'12 Years A Slave' (2013)
Steve McQueen's harrowing historical drama "12 Years A Slave" became the fifth TIFF People's Choice award winner in the festival's history to go on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Although TIFF's People's Choice award is no Oscar guarantee, the number of past recipients who>ve gone on to pick up an Academy Award is so significant that the festival's cinematic impact can no longer be ignored. The coincidence shows why TIFF is now considered an unofficial Oscar indicator. So keep your eye out at TIFF 2014, you might just get to screen the 2015 Best Picture winner amongst your festival viewings.
'The Imitation Game' (2014)
Benedict Cumberbatch stepped into the shoes of genius British code breaker and computer-science pioneer Alan Turing at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, a role that deeply resonated with audiences and Cumberb**ches alike! Beating out dramadies "Learning To Drive" and "St. Vincent" to pick up the coveted People's Choice Award, the film is continued its Oscar race buzz with a little more steam and a lot more credibility, but lost out to another festival favourite "Birdman". TIFF artistic director, Cameron Bailey, spoke highly of the film following its festival win. “(This is) a man whose mind was instrumental in helping to end the Second World War early, who is one of the fathers of the computers that we all use today, and we don’t know much about him,” Bailey said. “The fact that he had to suffer as a result of his sexual orientation also is a drama that I think deserves to be told. This is a story with a lot of great elements to it.”
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay brought Emma Donoghue's novel "Room" to life, capturing hearts around the world following it's debut at the Telluride film festival.
Held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, a woman (Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Tremblay) finally gain their freedom, allowing the boy to experience the outside world for the first time.
The film took home the People's Choice Award at TIFF 2015 and went on to become a major player in the following award season, winning actress Brie Larson the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and more.
The film itself was nominated for Best Picture and Screenplay at the 2016 Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
It may not have won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, but “Moonlight” took home the gold on Oscar night in 2017, ultimately winning Best Picture after a spectacular awards flub that saw the coveted statuette briefly handed over to “La La Land”.
The film earned Mahershala Ali a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and a win in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
'La La Land' (2016)
“La La Land” proved to be an awards juggernaut until the very end, literally. Even though it was erroneously awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture, the musical wowed TIFFgoers, earning it the People’s Choice Award.
Earning 13 Oscar nominations, “La La Land” took home six awards, including one for Emma Stone as Best Actress and another for Damien Chazelle who at 32, is the youngest person to ever win the Oscar for Best Director.
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017)
Crowned the TIFF People’s Choice winner in 2017, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” earned Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell raves for their performances. The pair would go on to dominate awards season, with McDormand taking home her second Best Actress Oscar and Rockwell winning the Best Supporting Actor trophy. The film also won a number of Golden Globes, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
‘I, Tonya’ (2017)
Though Margot Robbie earned praise for her role as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, the buzz was even stronger for Allison Janney as her tough-love mom, LaVona. Both women found themselves nominated for almost every acting award, with Janney winning nearly every supporting actress award of the year, including an Oscar. “I, Tonya” was voted the runner-up for the TIFF People’s Choice award.
‘The Shape Of Water’ (2017)
Guillermo del Toro’s love-letter to his adopted home of Toronto may have been a little too fantasy-based to take home the TIFF People’s Choice Award, but it did go on to earn a whopping 13 Academy Award nominations. “The Shape Of Water” won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for del Toro.
'Green Book' (2018)
Crowd pleaser "Green Book" held its world premiere in Toronto before being crowned the 2018 TIFF's People's Choice winner. Even a bit of controversy from the real-life subjects of the film couldn't sully the overwhelmingly positive reception of the movie or its impressive $322 million box office haul. Star Mahershala Ali went on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar (his second in the category after "Moonlight") and the film ultimately took home the Academy Award for Best Picture.