The Toronto Film Critics Association handed out its annual awards on Tuesday, giving the top prize to the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, a portrait of the folk-music scene in New York, circa 1961. Alfonso Cuaron was picked as best director for his space film Gravity, and best-screenplay honours went to writer-director Spike Jonze for Her, as the Toronto critics spread their prizes around.
Although 2013 has been widely hailed as a strong year for films, in critics' polls so far it appears to be a year without consensus. Numerically, the overall leader is 12 Years a Slave, winning with the African-American Critics Association, the New York Critics Online and with groups in Boston, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., and Washington. But two of the most influential critics' groups have not conformed to the pattern: The New York Film Critics Circle opted for David O. Russell's American Hustle and Los Angeles critics gave top honours to Her and Gravity in a tie. Her was also No. 1 with the National Board of Review and the Detroit and San Diego critics. Although 12 Years a Slave was a runner-up in five categories with the Toronto critics, it won nothing.
The more than 40 print and broadcast journalists in the TFCA gave a second nod to Inside Llewyn Davis, with a best-actor award to Oscar Isaac, who plays the title character, a self-defeating folk singer on the cusp of success. Cuaron's directing award reflected the technical accomplishment of Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock as an astronaut stranded in Earth orbit and appeares to be shot entirely in space. The screenplay prize went to Jonze for Her, a portrait of a man (Joaquin Phoenix) in love with his computer's operating system.
Cate Blanchett took the TFCA's best-actress award for her part in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, playing a vain, self-deceiving New York socialite and wife of a jailed investment swindler. Best-supporting-actress honours went to Jennifer Lawrence for her role in Russell's American Hustle (opening Friday), playing another wife of another crook, in a screwball comedy inspired by an FBI sting operation of the late seventies.
The supporting-actor prize went to Jared Leto as a transgender woman who conspires with a man (Matthew McConaughey) to buy illegal AIDS-fighting drugs in The Dallas Buyers Club, by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée.
The awards will be given out at the TFCA's gala dinner on Jan. 7, where Canada's richest film prize, the $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award, will be presented by last year's winner, Sarah Polley, to either Matt Johnson's school-shooting faux documentary The Dirties, Louise Archambault's drama Gabrielle, about a mentally challenged musician, or Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky's documentary Watermark.
COMPLETE AWARD-WINNERS AND RUNNERS-UP
Best picture: Inside Llewyn Davis. Runners-up: Her, 12 Years a Slave.
Best actor: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis. Runners-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club.
Best actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine. Runners-up: Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha.
Best supporting actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club. Runners-up: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; James Franco, Spring Breakers.
Best supporting actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle. Runners-up: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave; June Squibb, Nebraska.
Best direction: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity. Runners-up: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave.
Best screenplay: Spike Jonze, Her. Runners-up: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis.
Best first feature: Neighboring Sounds, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho. Runners-up: Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler; In a World…, directed by Lake Bell.
Best animated feature: The Wind Rises. Runners-up: The Croods, Frozen.
Best foreign-language film: A Touch of Sin. Runners-up: Blue Is the Warmest Colour; The Hunt.
BMO Allan King Documentary Award: The Act of Killing. Runners-up: Leviathan, Tim's Vermeer.