Hello Oscar: ‘Precious’ Reigns Over Toronto

This news couldn’t be better in my opinion as Lee Daniels’s Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire was the recipient of the top audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival and as I have said several times before, this film is magnificent. I am anxious to see what kind of momentum this adds to the film from exec producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry as it is the first time I have ever been happy to see those two names attached to a film in hopes it serves as cause for serious audience and Oscar attention.

Heading into Toronto all the talk was for Jason Reitman’s Up In the Air, which had just premiered to raves out of Telluride, but for Precious to walk away from Toronto with the top prize that is really saying something. Not to mention it is now the only film ever to win the audience prizes at both Sundance and Toronto. The Precious win mimicks Slumdog Millionaire‘s win at the same festival last year, will its award season be similar as well?

Over at The Envelope Tom O’Neil poses the same question and finds the difference in Slumdog‘s tone as a possible sticking point saying, “Precious inspires hope, but doesn’t make your feet fly with a rousing dance number at the end — that’s the key difference. However, Precious will certainly be nominated for best picture now that the Oscar list has been expanded to 10, best screenplay and acting bids seem to be assured for Sidibe (lead) and Mo’Nique (supporting). Both gals have a terrific shot at winning. Precious may reap a bid for best director too.”

The film beat out first runner-up Bruce Beresford’s Mao’s Last Dancer and second runner-up Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs in the competition voted on Toronto festival-goers.

In a statement reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels said, “The audience award holds such an important meaning. I made this film for every person out there who ever looked in the mirror and felt unsure about the person looking back.”

Over on his blog, Roger Ebert writes, “This could not be a better omen for the Oscar chances of Precious; it is all but certain to win a place on the expanded list of the Academy’s 10 ‘best picture’ nominees. Its star, Gabourey (Gabby) Sidibe, is also a real possibility for an acting nomination.”

Dave Karger at Entertainment Weekly writes, “[Precious] is well on its way to becoming one of next year’s 10 Best Picture nominees, while its stars Gabourey Sidibe and Mo’Nique are strong contenders in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.”

Over at Variety Jennie Punter adds, “With Sundance’s grand jury, aud and acting (Mo’Nique) prizes already in the trophy case, [Precious] is solidly poised for awards season contention, if the eight-Oscar legacy of Toronto’s 2008 aud winner Slumdog Millionaire is any indication.”

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see growing support for this film. As O’Neil says above, the film inspires hope and it does it despite a truly tragic story, which Ebert describes as the story of a teenage girl who seems to have everything going against her. The acting, directing, screenwriting, editing… everything about this film was perfect in my eyes and I can’t wait for more of you to see it.

I’ve been tracking this one pretty high so far in my “The Contenders” section and have the film sitting in the #5 spot in my Best Picture predictions, but I will definitely have it leap-frogging An Education (another great film) following my next update.

Precious hits theaters on November 6, for more information on the film click here and for my continued awards season coverage click here.


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