Just how indicative is nabbing the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival of eventually receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? Let’s go the numbers: 13 out of the last 14 have and that includes the past 10 in a row. 2011’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only outlier since 2008. Of those 13 films, five would go on to win the Academy’s top prize (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, Nomadland).
So it was with anticipation that awards prognosticators like yours truly awaited the bestowment of the Canadian fest’s biggest award. True to form, it went to a movie widely anticipated to be in the BP mix: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The legendary director’s most personal work to date was his first journey up north and he was rewarded handsomely for it. When I did my latest round of predictions on Friday, I had The Fabelmans listed in first place and this helps solidify that decision. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the BP race is over (far from it). Yet there’s no doubt that The Fabelmans has positioned itself as a major threat to take the top prize.
That’s not all because TIFF also names a first and second runner-up. And those picks are frequent indicators of what will play down the road. Over the previous decade, nine of the 20 runner-ups have gotten BP nods. This includes victorious ones like Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite and nominees such as Call Me by Your Name, Roma, and The Power of the Dog.
Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is first runner-up for 2022. It played to mostly raves at TIFF and I have it ranked 4th currently in the BP derby. Second runner-up was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The top 3 placement is something predecessor Knives Out didn’t manage 3 years ago. My estimates two days back put Onion on the outside looking in at 14th (though I did project for it for an Adapted Screenplay nod). My hesitation to put it in is this: just how many sequels could that Academy include in their group of 10? I’ve got Top Gun: Maverick already there (at 6th) and we still need to see Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (whose predecessors were both BP hopefuls). However, at this point, Netflix may choose to go all in on Onion being their most likely contender.
There are a couple films in particular that could’ve benefited from a top 3 showing today. I think immediately of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. I still anticipate both to be in the hunt (I’ve got them ranked 5th and 7th respectively).
Bottom line: The Fabelmans had itself a meaningful premiere in Toronto that currently puts Spielberg’s latest in the Oscar driver’s seat.