Toronto Film Festival 2017 Winners: ‘Three Billboards’ Ups Its Oscar Buzz

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Woody Harrelson and Frances McDormand star in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.’

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has increased its odds of being in the running for a Best Picture Oscar after the Fox Searchlight release earned the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars Francis McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Abbie Cornish, Lucas Hedges, Željko Ivanek, Caleb Landry Jones, Clarke Peters, Samantha Weaving, John Hawkes, and Peter Dinklage.

Following its festival screenings, the comedy/drama currently sits at 97% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Post calls it a “towering achievement” and Times (UK) says it’s the “pinnacle of McDonagh’s directorial career so far.”

Other Toronto Film Festival winners/honorable mentions to keep an eye on come award season include I, Tonya starring Margot Robbie and James Franco’s The Disaster Artist.

2017 Toronto Film Festival Winners:

Grolsch People’s Choice Awards
This year marked the 40th year that Toronto audiences were able to cast a ballot for their favourite Festival film for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award.

The Grolsch People’s Choice Award:
Winner — Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
First runner-up: Craig Gillespie’s I, Tonya
Second runner-up: Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name

The Grolsch People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award:
Winner: Joseph Kahn’s Bodied
Second runner-up: Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99
First runner-up: James Franco’s The Disaster Artist

The Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award:
Winner: Agnès Varda and JR’s Faces Places
Second runner-up: Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!
First runner-up: Long Time Running by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier

International Jury Awards

Toronto Platform Prize
For its third year of the Platform programme of director’s cinema, the Festival welcomed an international jury comprised of Chen Kaige, Malgorzata Szumowska, and Wim Wenders.

Winner: Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country
Jury remarks: “This is a spiritual epic taking place in 1929 in Australia’s Northern Territory. It is a great saga of human fate, and its themes of race and struggle for survival are handled in such a simple, rich, unpretentious and touching way, that it became for us a deeply emotional metaphor for our common fight for dignity.”

Speaking about their deliberations, the Jury statement added: “We saw twelve films from all over the world that took us into very different universes of the soul and to extremely different places on our planet. We were thankful to be able to see these films and we very much appreciated that actually exactly half of them were made by women. TIFF is leading the way, we feel. As we only had one award to give, we had to be quite radical. We also limited ourselves to only one special mention, even if other films might have imposed themselves for best acting, writing or directing.”

Awarding a special mention to Clio Barnard’s Dark River, the Jury said: “This film deeply rooted in the Yorkshire countryside convinced us, as its characters and actors, its photography, its story and its sense of place were all so utterly believable and controlled, that we were totally taken by it.”


Winner – Discovery: Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava
Winner – Special Presentations: Manuel Martín Cuenca’s The Motive (El Autor)

The Festival welcomed an international FIPRESCI jury composed of jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum (USA), Robert Daudelin (Canada), Martin Horyna (Czech Republic), Ivonete Pinto (Brazil), Marietta Steinhart (Austria), and Jim Slotek (Canada).


Winner: Huang Hsin-Yao’s The Great Buddha+
Jury remarks: “The NETPAC Jury awards The Great Buddha+ for depicting the interface between the haves and have-nots, with black humour and style, innovating with noir in representing the social reality of Taiwan today.”

City of Toronto Award for Best Canadian First Feature Film

Winner: Wayne Wapeemukwa’s Luk’ Luk’l
Jury remarks: “The award goes to a striking debut film that disrupts borders – of form and content and suggests new cinematic territories. This beautifully realized film offers a unique Canadian perspective, made with real compassion, insight and remarkable characters from Vancouver’s East Side.”

Honourable mention to Sadaf Foroughi’s Ava.

Canada Goose Award for Best Canadian Feature Film

Winner: Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés
Jury remarks: “A hybrid art-house film that proved to be something of a revelation. Wonderfully scripted and perfectly cast, this film managed the rare feat of featuring genuinely interesting and well-rounded characters; surprising dramatic and comedic moments with well thought-out multi-generational female roles (who were totally badass) while also dealing with poignant and contemporary issues, set against a striking rural backdrop and hundreds of ‘ravenous’ zombies.”

Honourable mention to Simon Lavoie’s The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches (La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes).