Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit has been seen as one of the fall season’s trickiest sells, and with good cause: It’s a pretty divisive comedy in which the filmmaker-actor plays Hitler as a goofball — the funny face-making imaginary friend of a young boy living in Nazi Germany. But its road to mainstream acceptance just got a little bit easier: On Sunday Jojo Rabbit took home the Grolsch People’s Choice Award after competing at the Toronto International Film Festival.
A prestigious film festival’s audience award may not sound like much of an honor, but this is no ordinary trophy. Its winners uniformly become both critical and commercial darlings, drowning in not only awards but money as well — as though TIFF audiences could predict the future. Recent winners include Silver Linings Playbook, 12 Years a Slave, The Imitation Game, Room (note: not Tommy Wiseau’s The Room), La La Land, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and last year’s big Oscar winner, Green Book.
All of those films went on to at least be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, so it seems like a lock that a film being promoted as an “anti-hate satire” made by the director of Thor: Ragnarok will be a fixture at awards ceremonies over the next few months. In fact, Waititi will likely share many a stage with Todd Phillips, the director of The Hangover films, whose renegade comic book movie, Joker, recently took the top prize at the Venice Film Festival. At the very least this will be the rare awards season that’s actually kind of weird.