American Fiction, the literary satire starring Jeffrey Wright as a novelist grappling with the publishing industry’s expectations of black writers, has won the Toronto international film festival’s influential People’s Choice award, a result that practically guarantees it serious Oscar consideration and contention for major awards.
Described by the Guardian as “hilarious and withering”, American Fiction triumphed over pre-festival favourites such as Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers and Hayao Miyazaki’s final film The Boy and the Heron, which were named the runners-up. It is written and directed by Cord Jefferson, a credited writer on TV shows including The Good Place, Watchmen and Station Eleven, and now making his feature directing debut.
The People’s Choice award, voted on by audiences at the festival, has in recent years acted as a clear signpost to future success on the awards circuit. This decade’s previous winners – The Fabelmans, Belfast and Nomadland – all secured best picture Academy Award nominations, with Nomadland going on to win the Oscar. Other People’s Choice winners that went on to win the best picture Oscar include Green Book, 12 Years a Slave and The King’s Speech.
Meanwhile Dicks: The Musical, an adaptation of an off-Broadway musical by Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson (in which they also star) won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness award and Mr Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe won the People’s Choice documentary award.