Pete Hammond

David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook has been named the big winner of the BlackBerry People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Fest Artistic Director Cameron Bailey leaked the news via Twitter as the ceremony was taking place. The critically acclaimed comedy which stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro won unanimous praise across the board and is not a surprising choice. It’s a real crowd-pleaser and follows in the footsteps of recent TIFF audience award winners like Slumdog Millionaire and The King’s Speech which both also went on to win Oscars for Best Picture. American Beauty also took the People’s Choice Award and went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars over a decade ago. However last year’s TIFF winner, the Lebanese Where Do We Go Now didn’t even manage to get a Foreign-Language Film Oscar nod and quickly disappeared from theatres when Sony Pictures Classics released it in the U.S. It surprisingly won the TIFF honor over eventual Best Picture Oscar winner The Artist. Still this should be a big boost in further establishing  the Weinstein Company’s November 21st release as a major awards contender. Additionally, Seven Psychopaths took the Audience Award for movies that screened for the festival’s Midnight Madness sidebar. TIFF doesn’t offer up a major juried list of award winners like Cannes or Venice so the People’s Choice Award is the best barometer of what really scored at the fest.

From the press release:

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
The BlackBerry People’s Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences. This year’s award goes to David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. The film is an intense, loving, emotional and funny family story from the director of The Fighter, David O. Russell, in which Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence find themselves partners in a secret arrangement to rebuild their broken lives. Robert De Niro yearns to get closer to his son (Cooper), as he tries to keep the family afloat with his compulsive bookmaking. The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by BlackBerry. First runner up is Ben Affleck’s Argo. The second runner up is Eran Riklis’ Zaytoun.

The BlackBerry People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. Seven Psychopaths follows a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s (Woody Harrelson) beloved Shih Tzu. Co-starring Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko and Zeljko Ivanek. First runner up is Barry Levinson’s The Bay and second runner up is Don Coscarelli’s John Dies at the End. The BlackBerry People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Bartholomew Cubbins for Artifact. Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, Artifact gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they battle their label in a brutal lawsuit and record their album This Is War. First runner up is Christopher Nelius and Justin McMillan’s Storm Surfers 3D. Second runner up is Rob Stewart’s Revolution.

The BlackBerry People’s Choice Documentary Award goes to Bartholomew Cubbins for Artifact. Telling harsh truths about the modern music business, Artifact gives intimate access to singer/actor Jared Leto and his band Thirty Seconds to Mars as they battle their label in a brutal lawsuit and record their album This Is War. First runner up is Christopher Nelius and Justin McMillan’s Storm Surfers 3D. Second runner up is Rob Stewart’s Revolution.

NETPAC AWARD
New this year is the NETPAC Award for the Best World or International Asian Feature Film Premiere, as selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema. Jury members include Laurice Guillen (Philippines), Shelly Kraicer (Toronto/Beijing) and Azize Tan (Istanbul).The award goes to Sion Sono’s The Land of Hope. The jury remarked: “For its subtle, complex and artful account of the social and political aspects of a national trauma that ends in hope and love, the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival NETPAC Award for best feature film is given to The Land of Hope by Sion Sono.”

Earlier in the Festival, the inaugural winner of the Grolsch Film Works Discovery Award was announced. The award went to Rola Nashef whose film, Detroit Unleaded, was presented as part of the Discovery programme. Nashef was presented with the award which includes a $10,000 cash prize to put toward her next project.

Awards Columnist Pete Hammond - tip him here.