The Toronto International Film Festival Grolsch People's Choice Award is an annual film award, presented by the Toronto International Film Festival to the film rated as the year's most popular film with festival audiences.[1] The award's current corporate sponsor is Grolsch;[2] past sponsors of the award have included Cadillac.[3]

The winner of this award has often later earned Academy Award nominations, to the point that the award is now considered to be effectively the "starting gun" of the Academy Award nomination race.[4]

In 2009, the festival introduced separate People's Choice Awards for Documentaries and Midnight Madness.[5]


At each film screening, attendees are invited to "vote" for the film by leaving their ticket stubs in voting boxes outside the theatre after the show.[6] However, to ensure that the voting process does not bias the award toward films that screened in larger theatres and that a film's own cast and crew cannot stuff the ballot box at the premiere, the overall number of votes received is also weighted against the percentage of the screening audience that the total number of votes represented.[6] For example, a film which screened in a smaller theatre, but had a highly passionate fan base who voted for the film en masse, can have an advantage over a film that had a larger number of raw votes representing a smaller percentage of the overall viewers.[6] Because each film is screened multiple times over the course of the entire festival, the process also enables the organizers to evaluate which films are generating more audience buzz, by virtue of a significant increase in attendance and/or People's Choice votes at the follow-up screenings.[6]

After the awards are announced, the festival closes with a free public screening of the winning film at Roy Thomson Hall.


The table below shows the People's Choice winners of past years. Prior to 2000, only the overall winner was named each year; in that year, the festival began announcing the first and second runners-up for the award as well.[6]

The table notes whether films have been winners or nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film or Best Documentary Feature.

On four occasions to date, the award has been won by a Canadian film. Two of those films, The Decline of the American Empire in 1986 and The Hanging Garden in 1997, were also named as the winners of the juried award for Best Canadian Film, although the 2007 winner Eastern Promises and the 2015 winner Room were not. All four films were also Best Picture nominees at the Genie Awards or the Canadian Screen Awards, which The Decline of the American Empire and Room won.

Year Film Director(s) Academy Award honours Genie/CSA honours
1978 Girlfriends Claudia Weill
1979 Best Boy Ira Wohl Best Documentary winner
1980 Bad Timing Nicolas Roeg
1981 Chariots of Fire Hugh Hudson Best Picture winner
1982 Tempest Paul Mazursky
1983 The Big Chill Lawrence Kasdan Best Picture nominee
1984 Places in the Heart Robert Benton Best Picture nominee
1985 The Official Story (La historia oficial) Luis Puenzo
1986 The Decline of the American Empire (Le déclin de l'empire américain) Denys Arcand Best Foreign Language Film nominee Best Picture winner
1987 The Princess Bride Rob Reiner
1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios) Pedro Almodóvar Best Foreign Language Film nominee
1989 Roger & Me Michael Moore
1990 Cyrano de Bergerac Jean-Paul Rappeneau Best Foreign Language Film nominee
1991 The Fisher King Terry Gilliam
1992 Strictly Ballroom Baz Luhrmann
1993 The Snapper Stephen Frears
1994 Priest Antonia Bird
1995 Antonia Marleen Gorris
1996 Shine Scott Hicks Best Picture nominee
1997 The Hanging Garden Thom Fitzgerald Best Picture nominee
1998 Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella) Roberto Benigni Best Picture nominee
1999 American Beauty Sam Mendes Best Picture winner
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo Ho Cang Long)[7] Ang Lee Best Picture nominee
The Dish[7] Rob Sitch
Innocence[7] Paul Cox
Billy Elliot[7] Stephen Daldry
2001 Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain)[8] Jean-Pierre Jeunet Best Foreign Language Film nominee
Maya[8] Digvijay Singh
Monsoon Wedding[8] Mira Nair
2002 Whale Rider Niki Caro
Bowling for Columbine Michael Moore
Bend It Like Beckham Gurinder Chadha
2003 Zatōichi Takeshi Kitano
Go Further Ron Mann
The Corporation Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott Best Documentary winner
2004 Hotel Rwanda Terry George
2005 Tsotsi Gavin Hood Best Foreign Film winner
Live and Become Radu Mihaileanu
Dreamer John Gatins
Brokeback Mountain Ang Lee Best Picture nominee
Mother of Mine Klaus Härö
2006 Bella Alejandro Gómez Monteverde
My Best Friend (Mon meilleur ami) Patrice Leconte
Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck
2007 Eastern Promises David Cronenberg Best Picture nominee
Juno Jason Reitman Best Picture nominee
Body of War Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle Best Picture winner
More Than a Game Kristopher Belman
The Stoning of Soraya M Cyrus Nowrasteh
2009 Precious Lee Daniels Best Picture nominee
Mao's Last Dancer Bruce Beresford
Micmacs Jean-Pierre Jeunet
2010 The King's Speech Tom Hooper Best Picture winner
The First Grader Justin Chadwick
2011 Where Do We Go Now? (وهلّأ لوين؟) Nadine Labaki
Starbuck Ken Scott Best Picture nominee
A Separation Asghar Farhadi Best Foreign Film winner
2012 Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell Best Picture nominee
Argo Ben Affleck Best Picture winner
Zaytoun Eran Riklis
2013 12 Years a Slave Steve McQueen Best Picture winner
Philomena Stephen Frears Best Picture nominee
Prisoners Denis Villeneuve
2014 The Imitation Game Morten Tyldum Best Picture nominee
Learning to Drive Isabel Coixet
St. Vincent Theodore Melfi
2015 Room Lenny Abrahamson Best Picture nominee Best Picture winner
Angry Indian Goddesses Pan Nalin
Spotlight Tom McCarthy Best Picture winner
2016 La La Land Damien Chazelle Best Picture nominee
Lion Garth Davis Best Picture nominee
Queen of Katwe Mira Nair
2017 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Martin McDonagh Best Picture nominee
I, Tonya Craig Gillespie
Call Me by Your Name Luca Guadagnino Best Picture nominee


  1. ^ Walmsley, Katie (September 2009). "Oprah flick 'Precious' wins top award at Toronto". CNN. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ "You Pick the Winner: How to Vote for the Grolsch People's Choice Award". TIFF. 2016. 
  3. ^ Chris Knight (2011-09-18). "Lebanese film wins TIFF People's Choice Award". National Post. 
  4. ^ "The Oscar race starts at TIFF – but who's in the running?". The Globe and Mail, September 7, 2017.
  5. ^ "TIFF lineup expands with horror, music". Telegraph-Journal, July 22, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Choose wisely: At the Toronto International Film Festival, how do you ensure that the people have actually spoken?". The Globe and Mail, September 7, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d "People prize Chinese action ; Best Canadian feature award goes to Calgary director Gary Burns". Toronto Star, September 18, 2000.
  8. ^ a b c "Movies win role in a traumatized world ; Toronto film festival ended with hope for better future". Toronto Star, September 17, 2001.