David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" has won the BlackBerry People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, joining an honor roll of TIFF winners that is fairly evenly divided between films that went on to have success in the U.S. market and in the awards race, and films that did not fare as well outside of the festival.
The news broke as the awards lunch was just beginning, when TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey tweeted premature congratulations to the film with what had been a previously-scheduled (and mis-scheduled) tweet. The tweet was quickly deleted from Bailey's Twitter account.
The idiosyncratic blend of comedy and drama, which stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, debuted at the festival on Saturday, Sept. 8, winning a resounding standing ovation and rave reviews.
"'Silver Linings' is a perfectly calibrated comedy that is also deeply moving," wrote TheWrap after the premiere. "[I]t's another major step in Russell's comeback from movie limbo, and a mainstream film with enough heart and clout to immediately figure into a number of Oscar races, definitely including Best Picture. "
The Weinstein Company plans to release the film in November.
The award is open to any film that screened at the festival, apart from entries in the shorts programs or the TIFF Cinematheque section. Contenders included Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," Ben Affleck's "Argo," the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer's "Cloud Atlas" and Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder."
The last five Oscar Best Picture winners have all screened at TIFF. In that time, the Oscar winner has captured the TIFF audience award twice, "Slumdog Millionaire" in 2008 and "The King's Speech" in 2010.
Last year, the audience award went to the Nadine Labaki film "Where Do We Go Now?" rather than the Oscar winner "The Artist." "Where Do We Go Now?" became the official Lebanese entry in the Oscar foreign-language race, but did not make the nine-film shortlist.
In previous years, winners of the award included "Tsotsi," "Hotel Rwanda," "Whale Rider," "American Beauty," "Shine," "Strictly Ballroom," "The Fisher King," "Roger & Me," "The Princess Bride," "The Big Chill" and "Chariots of Fire."
Winners that did not have as high a profile in the U.S. included "Bella," "Zatoichi," "Wo hu cang long," "The Hanging Garden" and "Le Declin de l'empire americain" ("The Decline of the American Empire").
Ben Affleck's "Argo" was first runner-up for the audience award, while Eran Ziklis' "Zaytoun" was second runner-up.
In other Toronto winners, moviegoing voters named Jared Leto's music doc "Artifact" (made under his pseudonym Bartholomew Cubbins) the festival's best documentary, and Martin McDonagh's twisted black comedy "Seven Psychopaths" the best film in the fest's Midnight Madness section.
Xavier Dolan's ambitious "Laurence Anyways" was named the best Canadian feature, while "Antiviral" and "Blackbird" tied for best Canadian first feature.
The FIPRESCI jury of international critics gave awards to Francois Ozon's "In the House" and Mikael Marcimain's "Call Girl."
BlackBerry People's Choice Award: "Silver Linings Playbook"
Runners-up: "Argo," "Zaytoun"
BlackBerry People's Choice Documentary Award: "Artifact"
Runners-up: "Storm Surfers 3D," "Revolution"
BlackBerry People's Choice Midnight Madness Award: "Seven Psychopaths"
Runners-up: "The Bay," "John Dies at the End"
The SKYY Vodka Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film: (tie) "Antiviral" and "Blackbird"
The City of Toronto and Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: "Laurence Anyways"
Award for Best Canadian Short Film: "Keep a Modest Head"
Honorable Mention: "Crackin' Down Hard"
The International Critics' (FIPRESCI) Prize for the Discovery Programme: "Call Girl"
The International Critics' (FIPRESCI) Prize for Special Presentations: "In the House"
NETPAC Award for Best Asian Film: "The Land of Hope"
Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award: "Detroit Unleaded"