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“American Fiction” takes top honors at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Global cinema audiences have named the best film of the year at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Following 10 days of festivities, TIFF drew to a close Sunday afternoon, with Cord Jefferson's American Fiction taking the festival's top prize, the TIFF People's Choice Award, amid a relatively muted year for the annual cinema event's offerings due to ongoing strikes involving Hollywood's actors and writers.

Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction. COURTESY OF TIFF /ORION RELEASING
Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction. COURTESY OF TIFF /ORION RELEASING

COURTESY OF TIFF /ORION RELEASING Jeffrey Wright in 'American Fiction'

The movie is an adaptation of Percival Everett's novel Erasure. It's a satirical take on stereotypes and offensive tropes, and stars Jeffrey Wright as Thelonious "Monk" Ellison, an English professor and frustrated author who has to confront his own integrity. American Fiction also stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, and Erika Alexander, among others.

Director Alexander Payne's The Holdovers — starring Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and newcomer Dominic Sessa — was named first runner-up, while Hayao Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron won second runner-up.

HO_03095 (l-r.) Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb and Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham in director Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC
HO_03095 (l-r.) Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb and Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham in director Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

Seacia Pavao/2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC Dominic Sessa, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, and Paul Giamatti in 'The Holdovers'

The TIFF People's Choice Award is typically a profile-boosting awards season prize bestowed upon a film that usually goes on to great Oscars success — including 10 eventual Best Picture winners or nominees across the last decade, including NomadlandGreen Book12 Years a Slave, and last year's Steven Spielberg-directed drama The Fabelmans. This year, however, the ongoing SAG and WGA strikes likely led to a less crowded roster of potential Oscar-bound films at TIFF.

Similarly, the festival's annual TIFF Tribute Awards ceremony handed out prizes to less likely contenders in the big-picture race, including All the Light We Cannot See series helmer Shawn Levy (who doesn't have a film in the race this year), director Patricia Arquette (Gonzo Girl), and actress Vicky Krieps (The Dead Don't Hurt). Still, Colman Domingo scored a TIFF trophy at this year's event, albeit for the film Sing Sing — which he was able to promote at the festival, where the film was acquired by A24 for a 2024 release — though his performance in Rustin, a Netflix film that he was not able to promote, seems to an early frontrunner for a Best Actor nomination.

The next major step on the awards trail will see prospective awards players like Bradley Cooper's Maestro, Yorgos Lanthimos' Poor Things, and Sofia Coppola's Priscilla make their way to the New York Film Festival, which runs Sept. 29-Oct. 15.

Check out more from EW's The Awardistfeaturing exclusive interviews, analysis, and our podcast diving into all the highlights from the year's best in TV.

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