Steven Spielberg’s film “Fablemen” won the Toronto Audience Award

Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama The Fablemans won the Toronto International Film Festival’s top prize, the Audience Choice Award, cementing…

Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age drama The Fables won the Toronto International Film Festival’s top prize, the Audience Choice Award, cementing its early Oscar front-runner status.

The Toronto Audience Award was announced on Sunday as North America’s largest film festival wrapped up its 47th edition and the first full-scale gathering in three years. The return of TIFF crowds brought the world premieres of a number of highly anticipated entertainers, including Viola Davis’ The Woman King , Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery , and Billy Eichner’s Bros .

The Toronto Audience Award, voted on by the festival’s moviegoers, is the most popular harbinger of the upcoming awards season. Each of the past ten years, the TIFF winner has been nominated for — and often won — the Best Picture Oscar. Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast won last year’s much-reduced Hybrid International Film Festival in Toronto. The year before, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland won a TIFF award before winning an Academy Award. Other past winners include 12 Years a Slave, La La Land and Green Book.

This year, no more anticipated film came to the festival than The Fablemen, Spielberg’s nostalgic film about his childhood. The film, to be released by Universal Pictures on Nov. 11, stars Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as the parents, while newcomer Gabrielle LaBelle stars as Spielberg and Sammy Fabelman as a teenager. After the premiere, the film received rave reviews.

“This is the most personal film I’ve ever made, and the warm welcome from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire Fabelman family,” Spielberg said in a statement read by Cameron Bailey . , director of the festival.

The first prize winner was Sarah Polley’s The Woman Who Talks, about female members of a Mennonite colony who come together to discuss years of sexual abuse. Johnson’s The Glass Onion, the director’s whodunit sequel for Netflix, took second place.

Audiences in other sections of the festival also vote for the People’s Choice award. The festival’s Audience Choice Award for a documentary film went to Hubert Davis’ film Black Ice, about the history of black hockey players, executive produced by LeBron James. The winner of the northern section was The Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, a musical parody of the Eric Apel biopic co-written by Yankovic and starring Daniel Radcliffe.

“Wow,” Appel said in a statement. “I never in a million years thought our satire of traditional award-winning films would win an award.”

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Follow AP Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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