‘La La Land’ takes top prize in Toronto

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINMENT - — Va­ri­ety

“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle’s mu­si­cal ode to Los An­ge­les, cap­tured the au­di­ence award at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val on Sun­day af­ter screen­ing to stand­ing ova­tions and rave re­views.

The film — and stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling — are widely ex­pected to be ma­jor Os­car sea­son play­ers. To snag the prize in Toronto, “La La Land” bested run­ner-ups “Lion” and “Queen of Katwe,” two in­spi­ra­tional dra­mas that also gen­er­ated some heat up north.

The vic­tory could bol­ster “La La Land’s” chances of pick­ing up the movie busi­ness’s top prize. Af­ter all, five au­di­ence award win­ners have gone on to cap­ture best pic­ture, a group that in­cludes “Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The King’s Speech,” “Amer­i­can Beauty” and “Char­i­ots of Fire.” Lion­s­gate will re­lease “La La Land” in the­aters on Dec. 2. It marks Chazelle’s fol­low-up to his ac­claimed 2014 in­die, “Whiplash.”

Ben Wheatley’s “Free Fire” re­ceived the Mid­night Mad­ness au­di­ence award. The ac­tion thriller stars Brie Lar­son. Raoul Peck picked up the peo­ple’s choice doc­u­men­tary award for “I Am Not Your Ne­gro,” a look at one of writer James Baldwin’s un­fin­ished works.

CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling on the red car­pet for “La La Land” at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

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