Room wins People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival

Lenny Abrahamson’s adaptation wins prize that usually predicts Oscars success

Director Lenny Abrahamson, actresses Joan Allen and Brie Larson, author/screenwriter Emma Donoghue and actor Jacob Tremblay  attend the Room press conference at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Photograph: Mike Windle/Getty Images

Director Lenny Abrahamson, actresses Joan Allen and Brie Larson, author/screenwriter Emma Donoghue and actor Jacob Tremblay attend the Room press conference at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Photograph: Mike Windle/Getty Images

 

Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, an adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Emma Donoghue, has been awarded the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The award is a very great honour for the Irish co-production.

Coming at the start of the increasingly lengthy awards season, the prize has, in recent decades, been seen as a reliable pointer towards the best picture winner at the Oscars.

Previous winners of the award include The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave and American Beauty.

When Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire won the award in 2008, the film was catapulted from relative obscurity to Oscars frontrunner.

It duly went on to win the best picture Academy Award.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment in the life of this film and this filmmaker,” Abrahamson told The Irish Times.

“The audience at Tiff are looking at an amazing programme of films and to have them pick Room is such an honour. I may have to have a lie-down.”

Upon hearing the news, Abrahamson tweeted: “Just looked at list of past winners and nearly fell off the bed.”

Produced by Dublin-based Element Pictures in cooperation with the Irish Film Board, Room stars Brie Larson as a woman who is held captive with her five-year-old son in a garden shed.

The film was greeted with rapturous standing ovations at its Toronto screenings.

Favourable reviews

Room had already received favourable reviews following its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival earlier this month, with much praise being lavished on Larson and her young co-star Jacob Tremblay.

Variety magazine suggested that the distributors might have the “call-your-mom-sobbing-afterward movie of 2015 on its hands”.

Larson is now viewed as a near certainty for a best actress Oscar nomination.

“This win is a major accolade and a huge tribute to Lenny, Emma and the rest of the amazing cast and crew,” Ed Guiney, producer of the picture, said.

“Toronto is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, with more than 300 films playing over 10 days, so this award gives us great momentum as we head towards our North American release next month.”

Abrahamson has shown a remarkable vein of form over the last few years.

His picture Adam and Paul, released in 2004, is seen as one of the great Irish films.

What Richard Did, a wrenching study of guilt, and Frank, an eccentric odyssey starring Michael Fassbender, also picked up much good word.

Room beat another highly-rated Irish film to the People’s Choice Award.

John Crowley’s Brooklyn, adapted from Colm Tóibín’s novel, has been attracting much praise since its triumphant premiere at the Sundance Film Festival at the start of the year.

The star of that film, Saoirse Ronan, also seems to be in with a shot of an Oscar nomination.

The Irish are coming.