Surprise Movies That Won TIFF And Went On To Oscar Glory

While the Cannes Film Festival boasts the Palme d’Or and the Venice Film Festival has the Golden Lion, the Toronto International Fim Festival’s People’s Choice Award is the one which has shown it’s the bellwether to the Academy Awards, with several People’s Choice Award Winners going on to be nominated for various awards at the Academy Awards.

With this year’s TIFF already gone, you could take your chances with the bookies for the Oscars. Do note that Ontario is legal and fully live to place bets on the big entertainment events.

Below are some of them who have snagged top prizes in both events.

Jojo Rabbit – Academy Award for the Best Adapted Screenplay in 2019

Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit wasn’t thought to be a frontrunner by many pundits but did one better and won the People’s Choice awards at TIFF in 2019. The film received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design. In the end, it won the Best Adapted Screenplay Award.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing – Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress in 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing trumped Call Me By Your Name to win the People’s Choice Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. Frances McDormand would win Best Actress for her part while the film also won Best Motion Picture and Best Supporting Actress. Three Billboards, which received nine nominations, was the sixth consecutive TIFF to be in the fight for Best Picture at the Oscars.

La La Land – Six Academy Awards in 2016

La La Land received a total of 14 nominations for the 89th Academy Awards in 2016 and ended up winning six, including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Production Design. 

The 14 nominations saw La La Land tie1950’s All About Eve and 1997’s Titanic for the most nominations for a single film. However, the joy was not without embarrassment as presenter Faye Dunaway mistakenly announced the movie had won Best Picture. The cast and crew took the stage and three speeches were actually made, while it took more than two minutes to fix the mistake and announce that Moonlight was the actual winner.

Room – Academy Award for Best Actress in 2015

Room, from Lenny Abrahamson, beat out Oscars Best Picture winner Spotlight at TIFF in 2015 and Brie Larson would end up winning the Best Actress award. Room was nominated for four awards that year.

12 Years A Slave – Three Academy Awards, including Best Film, in 2015

2 Years A Slave

The Steve McQueen film won the Toronto International Film Festival’s top accolade in 2014 and was nominated for nine Oscars, going on to win Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress, with Lupita Nyong’o claiming the latter. 

12 Years a Slave was heralded as one of the best films of 2013 and is rated as one of the best of its kind.

The King’s Speech – Four Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor in 2010

The King’s Speech gained major traction at Telluride in 2010 before winning the top honours at TIFF a few weeks later. It earned 12 Oscar nominations, more than all previous TIFF winners back then, and won prizes for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Slumdog Millionaire – Eight Academy Awards including Eight Oscars including Best Film and Best Director in 2008

Slumdog millionaire was a legitimate hit and it’s no wonder it won eight Oscars in 2008. The Daniel Boyle film was nominated for 10 awards, losing out in just two categories and winning the others, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, the most of any film that year.

Tsotsi – Academy Award For Best Foreign Language Film In 2005

Tsotsi received strong competition from Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain in 2005 but would end up winning the People’s Choice Awards at Tiff. Garvin Hood’s South African Drama also snagged an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film that year.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Academy Award For Best Foreign Language Film in 2000

This film followed Life is Beautiful as a People’s Choice Award winner at the Toronto International Film Festival before earning Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Foreign. It went on to win the latter.

American Beauty – Five Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor in 1999

Sam Mendes’ American Beauty was the second movie to win the People’s Choice Award at TIFF and then go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It saw Kevin Spacey win Best Actor, while Mendes won Best Director. It also hauled in Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, having gotten nominated for eight categories.

Antonia’s Line – Academy Award For Best Foreign Language Film In 1995

Antonia’s Line got nominated for the Oscars in 1995 after TIFF winners failed to make it to the Academy Awards for three years. It became only the second film to win the People’s Choice Award and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.


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