"The King's Speech" has won the People’s Choice Award at the 35th Toronto International Film Festival, joining a slate of TIFF audience award winners that over the years has included Oscar Best Picture winners “Slumdog Millionaire,” “American Beauty” and “Chariots of Fire.”
Best Picture nominee “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” won the prize last year.
But the award is no guarantee of Best-Pic Oscar recognition: in previous years, the prize has been given to “Eastern Promises,” “Tsotsi,” “Hotel Rwanda,” “Whale Rider,” Bella,” “Zatoichi” and “Le fableux destin d’Amelie Poulain.”
"The King's Speech," which will be released by the Weinstein Company, was directed by Tom Hooper and stars Colin Firth as Britain's King George VI, who overcame a speech impediment to deliver radio addresses at the beginning of World War II.
"We are absolutely thrilled and excited that 'The Kings Speech' has garnered such an amazing award," Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser told TheWrap. "On behalf of TWC, Tom Hooper, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and our entire cast and crew we thank the Toronto Audience and Cadillac for making this their film as well."
The film is considered a shoo-in Best Picture nominee, while Firth and co-star Geoffrey Rush are clearly strong contenders in the acting categories.
Not as adventurous or polarizing as Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" or Danny Boyle's "12 Hours," "The King's Speech" is a work of solid, exemplary filmmaking that played extremely well at its gala premiere early in the festival, and attracted almost no naysayers among critics.
People's Choice Awards were also handed out to one documentary and one film from the festival's late-night Midnight Madness section of genre films. Sturla Gunnarsson's "Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie" won the documentary award, while Jim Mickle's "Stake Land" took home the prize for a Midnight Madness film.
The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Cadillac, is voted on by festivalgoers who rank each film on a scale of one-to-five at all public screenings. It is the chief award handed out at TIFF, which does not have a jury to vote on honors the way, say, the Cannes and Venice festivals do.
It does, however, use small juries to select the winners of the three awards for Canadian films. Those awards carry cash prizes of $30,000 (Best Canadian Feature Film), $15,000 (Best Canadian First Feature Film) and $10,000 (Best Canadian Short Film).
Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies," which was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, was named Best Canadian Feature Film.
The awards were handed out at a brunch at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel in the Yorkville section of Toronto.
The winner then screened for free at the Ryerson Theatre.
People’s Choice Award: "The King's Speech"
Runner-up: "The First Grader"
People’s Choice Award for Documentary: "Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie"
Runner-up: "Nostalgia for the Light"
People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness: "Stake Land"
Runner-up: "Fubar II"
FIPRESCI Prize for the Discovery Section: "Beautiful Boy"
FIPRESCI Prize for the Special Presentations Section: "L'Amour Fou"
Best Canadian Feature Film: "Incendies"
Best Canadian First Feature Film: “The High Cost of Living”
Best Canadian Short Film: “Les Fleurs de l’age”