Now this makes things interesting. I haven't done a complete TIFF roundup, mostly because everything that premiered there (as has been the case of late), was either immediately dismissed as inconsequential by the critics (Freeheld, Trumbo, Our Brand is Crisis), or if given a good reception (The Martian), deemed too mainstream and commercial for Oscar consideration, that is unless perhaps the potential box office success can push it to a token Best Picture nomination as an acknowledgment of the the public's choice (hasn't happened lately, but if they want the Oscars to remain relevant they really should take some of the public's preferences into account, along with good reviews- movies are still made for audiences, after all). But the People's Choice Award is still a major Oscar bellwether, as 6 of the last 7 winners all went on to be at least nominated for Best Picture. No one expected Room to pull that off, but alas, the reception at TIFF was so great for this tiny film, that now it must be taken seriously for major awards consideration, and Brie Larsen just became a heavy contender for her first Best Actress nomination. The question remains whether the little studio, A24, can handle this kind of awards campaign, but obviously they have the goods with the movie itself.
For what it's worth, Spotlight took second place here, and the reaction from the Toronto crowd was hugely positive for this movie as well, which some are starting to call this year's Argo, a film no one can dislike and the kind that can reach a broad consensus going forward. It may be enough to label it the BP frontrunner already, since most of the late year contenders that premiere after the film festivals tend not to be able to withstand end of the year criticism or even make it to most of the voter's viewing screens by the time voting begins. So keep an eye on Spotlight, everybody. This could be the major winner to come out of the festivals this year.