'Roma' Tops Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

Alfonso Cuarón's Roma was named the year's best film by the Toronto Film Critics Association
Photo by Carlos Somonto / Netflix
Alfonso Cuarón's Roma is the best film of 2018 according to the Toronto Film Critics Association! The acclaimed Netflix drama won Best Picture and Best Director from the TFCA in a live vote held yesterday by film critics in the city of Toronto. Roma marks a deeply personal film for Cuarón following his special effects extravaganza Gravity, which won seven Oscars. The film is a portrait of two women in Mexico's Roma neighbourhood, a wealthy mother and her Mixtec housekeeper who cares for her children. Cuarón has called it a love-letter to the two women who raised him.

Roma has been seen as both a revolutionary film and a disruptive work on the film circuit. Backed by streaming giant Netflix, the film innovative black and white art film has wowed critics and audiences at festivals around the world, including a win of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and a runner-up prize for the People's Choice at TIFF. However, few audiences outside the festival circuit can see Roma on a big screen and appreciate the grand canvas with which Cuarón tells the story and the immersive sound design that makes the film so powerful. Netflix launches the film on its streaming platform on December 14, making it available for all to see following theatrical bookings in major markets with box office numbers being withheld from publication. Toronto audiences can currently catch Roma on the big screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox. (It's worth noting that the film's status as a "Netflix movie" never arose once in the debate, perhaps alluded to only by one member's praise, "I'm still astonished that a film like this exists.")

The win for Roma came following an intense debate in which battle lines were drawn in the membership as some critics rallied behind Lee Chang-dong's Burning, which scooped the TFCA's Best Foreign Language Film prize as a consolation prize. (Roma, a Mexican production told in Spanish and Mixtec, was also eligible for the award.) The spirited and passionate debates also saw a rare tie in the Best Screenplay category for First Reformed and The Favourite. The films also won the Best Actor and Best Actress award for Ethan Hawke and Olivia Colman, respectively.

On the Canadian front, the TFCA released the three nominees for the Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. Anthropocene: The Human Epoch is among the three finalists with Baichwal, Burtynsky, and de Pencier looking to complete the trifecta of wins in this category, as the first two films in their environmental trilogy, Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, won the awards in previous years. Anthropocene was a runner-up for the RBC Allan King Documentary Award and was the lone Canadian film to crack through the competitive awards. The winner for that prize was Morgan Neville's Mr. Rogers doc Won't You Be My Neighbor?.

Sofia Bohdonwicz’s Maison du bonheur adds another documentary nominee to the mix in the race for Best Canadian Film. The film is a Varda-esque portrait of an elderly and eclectic Parisian woman. Sadaf Foroughi’s drama Ava rounds out the trio with a compelling character study of a young girl in Tehran fighting against an oppressive society. The Rogers Best Canadian Film Award carries a purse of $100,000 for the winner (and $5,000 for each nominee) with the winner named in January. Eligibility for films is restricted to titles that receive a theatrical release in Toronto within the calendar year.

It was also announced that Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award winner Tantoo Cardinal has selected filmmaker Darlene Naponse as the recipient of the prize’s pay-it-forward honour that allows an industry veteran to bestow $50,000 in post-production services to an emerging talent. Naponse directed Cardinal in the drama Falls Around Her, which provided the actor with her first leading role with top-billing in a long and impressive career.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Best Picture: Roma
Runners-up: Burning, First Reformed

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Roma
Runners-up: Lee Chang-dong, Burning; Paul Schrader, First Reformed

Best Actor: Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Runners-up: Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress: Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Runners-up: Regina Hall, Support the Girls; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor: Steven Yeun, Burning
Runners-up: Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress: Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Runners-up: Emma Stone, The Favourite; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Screenplay: (tie) First Reformed, Paul Schrader; The Favourite, Tony McNamara, Deborah Davis
Runner-up: Roma, Alfonso Cuarón

RBC Allan King Documentary Award: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Runners-up: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, Free Solo

Best Animated Feature: Isle of Dogs
Runners-up: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Ralph Breaks the Internet

Best First Feature: Sorry to Bother You
Runners-up: Eighth Grade, Hereditary

Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award: Tantoo Cardinal

Rogers Best Canadian Film Award nominees: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, Ava, Maison du bonheur

Stella Artois Jay Scott Prize: to be announced