Is the Oscar race over after 'La La Land' won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival?
"La La Land" has won the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival making it a front-runner for the Academy Award. So does that mean the Oscar race is over? For some the race is far from over especially when there are five months left until the Oscars and many films have yet to premiere or be screened. However, if there is something to look at, it is how history repeats itself at the Oscars.
"La La Land" had the honor of opening the Venice Film Festival this year and won the Best Actress award. It later went to the Telluride Film Festival and was a huge success before bowing at Toronto where it won the audience award.
Its Venice birth is significant in that the the past two Best Picture winners, "Spotlight" and "Birdman, " have made world premieres there. The festival is also recognized for showcasing some other big Oscar nominees such as "Black Swan," "Brokeback Mountain" and "Atonement."
However, its Telluride which is more important. The festival, which is held during the Labor Day weekend, has seen many Best Picture winners play there. Among the films include "Birdman," "Spotlight," "The King's Speech," "Slumdog Millionaire," "Argo," and "12 Years a Slave." Telluride has been known for shaping the Oscar race as many Academy members spend the weekend at the festival watching the first contenders there. As a result, these films always have the upper hand and are never hurt by late screeners or screenings.
And finally Toronto has had the distinction of being the festival that launches the Oscar race. While the audience award is voted by the audience and not the Academy, there is always room for error. However, "Slumdog Millionaire," "12 Years a Slave," "The King's Speech" and "American Beauty" all won audience awards and went on to win the Oscar.
"La La Land" faces fierce competition but it should stay afloat throughout Oscar season especially after its festival success. Its December release date is also likely to help because it will win critics' awards raising awareness and buzz and helping it obtain a healthy box office.
"Spotlight" was helped by its critics awards but what was more crucial was the buzz from its early festival bows and early screenings.
Even "Birdman" showcased the power of festivals. While it skipped Toronto, the movie still premiered at "Telluride" and later went to the New York Film Festival.
So will "La La land" win Best Picture? If history repeats itself, the film is destined to win gold on Feb. 26.