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TIFF People's Choice Award winner: La La Land takes top honors

The festival also released its full list of winners

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Dale Robinette

La La Land is dancing its way through awards season on a high note: The Damien Chazelle-directed musical has won the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award, widely seen as a precursor to a best picture nomination at the Oscars.

The film, which revolves around the budding relationship between a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and struggling actress (Emma Stone) in Los Angeles, is Chazelle’s highly anticipated follow-up to his 2014 drama Whiplash, which earned stellar reviews ahead of winning three Oscars — including one for supporting actor J.K. Simmons, who also appears in La La Land

This year’s runners-up were Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe and Garth Davis’ LionLa La Land, which premiered to glowing reviews at the Venice Film Festival in August, faced stiff competition in Toronto from the likes of Natalie Portman’s Jacqueline Kennedy biopic Jackie, which won the TIFF Platform Award, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, and Amy Adams’ sci-fi drama Arrival, which all received solid reviews from critics at the annual event’s 41st edition. 

Seven of the eight TIFF People’s Choice Award winners crowned between 2008 and 2015 — including Silver Linings Playbook, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Imitation Game — went on to either win or receive a nomination for best picture at the Oscars. Last year’s winner, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, earned Brie Larson her first Academy Award in the best actress category on top of scoring three additional nominations for best picture, best director, and best adapted screenplay.

The last film to win both best picture and the TIFF People’s Choice Award was Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in 2013. Excluding La La Land, Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only TIFF People’s Choice winner to not receive a single Academy Award nomination since 2008. The film was, however, officially submitted to represent Lebanon in the best foreign language film category, though it ultimately missed out on a nomination.

Since 1978, the TIFF People’s Choice Award has been determined by a public vote. This year, TIFF introduced a mobile app which allowed attendees to cast votes for their favorite festival title without the use of a physical ballot. 

Lionsgate will release La La Land on Dec. 2. Watch the film’s trailer and check out the full list of TIFF winners below.

Dropbox Discovery Programme Filmmakers Award: Jeffrey, Yanillys Perez

Best Canadian Short Film: Mutants, Alexandre Dostie

Best Short Film: Imago, Raymund Ribay Gutierrez

City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature: Old Stone (Lao shi), Johnny Ma

Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves, Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie

Fipresci Prizes of the International Federation of Film Critics: 

  • Discovery: Kati Kati, Mbithi Masya
  • Special Presentations: I Am Not Madame Bovary, Feng Xiaogang

Network for Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema Award: In Between, Maysaloun Hamoud

Toronto Platform Prize: Jackie, Pablo Larraín 

Grolsch People’s Choice Awards: 

  • Midnight Madness: Free Fire, Ben Wheatley
  • Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck
  • People’s Choice: La La Land, Damien Chazelle

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