Did Jojo Rabbit Just Become An Oscars 2020 Best Picture Frontrunner?

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit
(Image credit: (Fox Searchlight))

Taika Waititi just shook up the Oscar race. Yes, the filmmaker best known for his quirky and refreshing Marvel entry, Thor: Ragnarok (and the voice behind friendly pile-of-rocks sidekick, Korg) could have a Best Picture contender on his hands. Waititi’s Nazi Germany satire Jojo Rabbit has won Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award. Past winners almost always score top Oscar nominations and have later become Best Picture winners.

Last year, TIFF’s audience award was awarded to Green Book, which gave the film a boost to its Best Picture win earlier this year. The honor was also given to 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech and Slumdog Millionaire before claiming the big Oscar prize. In fact, for the past seven years in a row, the TIFF People’s Choice pick has found a place in the Best Picture nomination category, including major past contenders Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, La La Land, Room and Silver Linings Playbook.

Jojo Rabbit beat out other buzzy films in early Oscar conversation to premiere at the festival, such as Todd PhillipsJoker, the Tom Hanks-led A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and James Mangold’s Ford v. Ferrari. Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story was the runner-up and Parasite, the film by Okja’s Joon-ho Bong, was second runner-up.

Taika Waititi’s film was met with positive to mixed reactions from critics. It made a good impression on CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell and Corey Chichizola who both praised Jojo Rabbit for being “heartfelt”, along with being packed with laughs. The movie currently has a 74% Rotten Tomatoes score with over 60 reviews filed.

Due to the film’s irreverent nature, it could be divisive in the Oscar race as award’s season moves forward. Jojo Rabbit has Taika Waititi playing an imaginary friend version of Adolf Hitler to a young boy in his army (Roman Griffin Davis), while his mom Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl in her house.

The Fox Searchlight release was previously reported to be a point of worry for new parent company Disney, though Scarlett Johansson recently said the studio is excited about the Oscar hopeful gaining traction during the season, to her own surprise.

Taika Waititi had been trying to get Jojo Rabbit made for eight years and faced plenty of rejection before getting the green light shortly after the success of Thor: Ragnarok. He wrote the script based on the Christine Leunens novel, Caging Skies.

Early praise for Jojo Rabbit has revolved around its sweet coming-of-age quality between its gutsy subject matter revolving around a goofy Hitler character. It’s the kind of movie that by no means should work, but has impressed early audiences with how well it actually does.

Jojo Rabbit’s TIFF award almost secures a spot in the Best Picture category, but does it have a chance to win? Keep following along with us here on CinemaBlend as award season unfolds. The Nazi Germany comedy arrives to theaters on October 18.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.