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Buzz. It's something every film is trying to secure during the annual Oscar race, and one of the best ways for a movie to build it is by being good. Really, it's that simple. Word-of-mouth drives the strongest Oscar campaigns, for when some people see a movie and determine that it's good, ore people want to see it. And maybe reward it with Oscars. To that end, the winner of the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival walks away with its fair share of buzz on which it can build, and this year's winner is Peter Farrelly's Green Book.
What? Not A Star is Born, with powerhouse pop sensation Lady Gaga and her grizzled first-time director Bradly Cooper? Not Ryan Gosling's moon-reaching drama First Man? Nope, this year, according to TIFF, the audiences in Toronto cast their vote for a crowd-pleaser starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali that social media said played like Slumdog Millionaire at the Canadian film fest. In other words, like gangbusters:
Now, it's also worth noting that the last two Best Picture winners, The Shape of Water and Moonlight, did NOT take home the Audience prize in Toronto. So yeah, statistics can work for you AND against you, depending on what point that you want to make. But coming out of the fall film festival circuit, when hundreds of films are screened for thousands of audience members, the best that a film can be is relevant, and a trophy like the Audience Award at TIFF raises awareness in ways that a marketing campaign might not.
What is Green Book about? Set in 1962, the film casts Mahershala Ali as a renowned pianist embarking on a musical tour through the Deep South, accompanied by a driver/bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) expected to guide him along the way. Naturally, because it's the South in the Sixties, the two men encounter severe racism, but they each learn something important about the points-of-view of each others' worlds through the experience. Check out the Green Book trailer:
The buzz swirling around Green Book centered on Mahershala Ali, who supposedly is fantastic as the gifted pianist suffering fools in the name of blatant racism. But there's extra attention being paid to Peter Farrelly, one half of the infamous Farrelly Brothers (Dumb & Dumber) who is breaking away from his usual mold to tackle more important topics. Could this mean some awards attention for the man behind Shallow Hal, as well? (I can see the headline "There's Something About Oscar" as we speak...)
Green Book will be in theaters on November 21.