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Which Audience Award Winner Path Will ‘American Fiction’ Follow?


I finally got around to seeing American Fiction this week, after missing it at the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ll have a full review up for week of release later on in the year, but it’s quite good. The movie is funny, smart, and extremely well made. So, it’s now clear to me what TIFF viewers saw in it when they bestowed upon the flick their People’s Choice Award. Known as the Audience Award, it’s become a prize with a huge impact on the Academy Awards. Since I’ve spoken several times on the podcast about how this is a choice that Oscar may or may not follow, it’s worth looking at that today, with the benefit of knowing firsthand the quality of the product.

Cord Jefferson‘s film is hoping to contend in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jefferson, Best Actor for Jeffrey Wright, Best Supporting Actor for Sterling K. Brown, and Best Supporting Actress for Erika Alexander. Prior to TIFF, most of this was not even on the radar. Now, the movie is not just thinking about nominations, but potentially wins too, if all goes well.

To that end, I wanted to look at the Audience Award winners of yore to see if there’s a particular path that American Fiction is likely to follow. The People’s Choice Award has recently been almost a lock in to a Picture nomination, so if there’s a modern comparison to be found, it benefits the flick immensely.

“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) Cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi

This is the history of the TIFF People’s Choice Award, in terms of the prior winners:

1978 – Girlfriends

1979 – Best Boy

1980 – Bad Timing

1981 – Chariots of Fire

1982 – Tempest

1983 – The Big Chill

1984 – Places in the Heart

1985 – The Official Story

1986 – The Decline of the American Empire

1987 – The Princess Bride

1988 – Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

1989 – Roger & Me

1990 – Cyrano de Bergerac

1991 – The Fisher King

1992 – Strictly Ballroom

1993 – The Snapper

1994 – Priest

1995 – Antonia

1996 – Shine

1997 – The Hanging Garden

1998 – Life is Beautiful

1999 – American Beauty

2000 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

2001 -Amélie

2002 – Whale Rider

2003 – Zatōichi

2004 – Hotel Rwanda

2005 – Tsotsi

2006 – Bella

2007 – Eastern Promises

2008 – Slumdog Millionaire

2009 – Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

2010 – The King’s Speech

2011 – Where Do We Go Now?

2012 – Silver Linings Playbook

2013 – 12 Years a Slave

2014 – The Imitation Game

2015 – Room

2016 – La La Land

2017 – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

2018 – Green Book

2019 – Jojo Rabbit

2020 – Nomandland

2021 – Belfast

2022 – The Fabelmans

2023 – American Fiction

“Jojo Rabbit” (2019) Cinematography by Mihai Malaimare Jr.

Of that above list, many have received multiple Academy Award nominations. In fact, 21 of them have gotten Best Picture nominations. We’re currently on an eleven year stretch of the films showing up in that biggest Oscar category. So, one would think that American Fiction is in an excellent position. At the same time, it does stand out from the back, so far, which makes figuring out exactly what the movie will do a bit of a challenge.

Is there a perfect comparison to American Fiction? No, not really. At the same time, things like American Beauty, Jojo Rabbit, Silver Linings Playbook, or Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stand as comedic works that took home gold with Oscar. There’s lesser comparison with films that didn’t score citations in the top category, like The Fisher King or The Princess Bride, but they do feel less likely.

Ultimately, I think somewhere below the massive success of American Beauty and the slightly more restrained success of Silver Linings Playbook, yet above Oscar also-rans is the likely outcome. If I had to guess, I’d say American Fiction is a probable Best Picture nominee, with Jefferson getting into the Adapted Screenplay field. Anything else very much remains to be seen, but look for the movie to be another TIFF Audience Award success story. Which path it follows? Well, you’ll get to find out just as I do…

Stay tuned to see how American Fiction fares this season!


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[…] as well. Exciting, right? I’ve recently caught up with American Fiction, too, which I detailed here, in terms of its awards path after becoming the latest Audience Award winner from TIFF. Almost […]



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