Sunday, June 16, 2024

Toronto Film Fest: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” with Frances McDormand for People’s Choice Award


The TIFF People’s Choice Award has gone to Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” starring Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. Each of the actors moves up in the Oscar prognostication race for this Fox Searchlight indie. McDonagh previously wrote and directed the great “In Bruges” with Ralph Fiennes. A number of his plays have been produced on Broadway. But this is his biggest achievement so far. Bravo!

First runner up was “I, Tonya” with Margot Robbie playing conniving ice skater Tonya Harding. Second runner up was the peachy “Call Me By Your Name.”

The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied.” The second runner-up is Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99. The first runner-up is James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist.”

The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Agnès Varda and JR’s “Faces Places.” The second runner-up is Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!” The first runner-up is “Long Time Running” directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier.

TIFF doesn’t offer acting prizes but there were plenty of excellent performances in Toronto this year. My favorite included Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in “Molly’s Game,” Judi Dench in “Victoria and Abdul,” Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in “The Upside,” Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water,” Michael Stuhlbarg in “Call Me By Your Name,” and Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project.”

McDormand, an Oscar winner for “Fargo,” joins many of the aforementioned ladies in the race for the Oscar– Dench, Chastain, Emma Stone (for “Battle of the Sexes”), Hawkins plus Nicole Kidman in “Killing of a Sacred Deer.”

McDormand is always a funny choice because she doesn’t campaign, can’t accept compliments, doesn’t like interviews or interviewers, and I don’t think cares one way or another. When she won the Tony a couple of years ago she was almost locked out of the theater (accidentally) right before she was announced. And yet she is absolutely brilliant in anything she does. What can you do? Just watch her in “Almost Famous” or “North Country” or “Olive Kitteridge.” Amazing.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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