TIFF has announced their Audience Award winners, and Lenny Abrahamson’s tearjerker Room has taken the top prize. The film stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay as a mother and son who are imprisoned in a backyard shed and must find their way back to the larger world. While Room wasn’t the best film I saw at TIFF, I can understand why audience went for it because it lands an emotional punch just like previous TIFF Audience Award winners The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, and Silver Linings Playbook. While I don’t know if this positions Room as a “frontrunner” in the race, it certainly makes it a larger part of the award-season conversation. Spotlight picked up the Audience Award second runner-up, and Angry Indian Goddesses.
Over in the other categories, Hardcore, which is easily one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, won over the crowd at Midnight Madness, and picked up the Audience Award in that category. I can understand why they might see it as a crowdpleaser with its first-person POV, non-stop rush of violence and infantile humor, but it’s a shame that it now gets to carry an award, especially after beating out the far superior Green Room and The Final Girls, which won second and first runner-up, respectively.
Finally, Evgeny Afineevsky’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom won the People’s Choice Documentary Award with the second runner-up going to Al Purdy Was Here and the first runner-up for This Changes Everything.