'La La Land' wins Audience Prize at Toronto Film Festival

By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "La La Land," Damien Chazelle's musical ode to Los Angeles, captured the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival 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' 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 and screened along with other genre offerings. 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.

PHOTOS: A look at the stars at TIFF

Stars stun at TIFF
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Stars stun at TIFF

Michelle Williams is always a fashion-forward lady, but this white dress with it's scooped out hemline and black belt was edgy and cool. Williams hit the Tiffany & Co. dinner at TIFF. 

 (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Actress Kate Hudson put the sexy into TIFF with a black dress with a lace corset and a sheer lace bottom. She teamed the lingerie-like look with a set of black undies and a diamond necklace. If you've got it, flaunt it! 

(Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)

Red hot! Amy Adams looked sleek and sophisticated in a red dress with a plunging neckline and jeweled choker for the premiere of "Arrival" at TIFF. 

(Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)

"Colossal" star Anne Hathaway rocked a bohemian vibe with a white off-the-shoulder dress with frills and lace from Rodarte. She polished off the look with a ballet bun and heels. 

(Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

We can't get enough of Scarlett Johansson easy and whimsical style. The actress hit the "Sing" premiere in a pretty red silk-chiffon dress and polished off the flirty style with a set of black, platform heels. 

 (Xinhua/Zou Zheng via Getty Images)

Off-the-shoulder dresses are definitely in! Reese Witherspoon put her stamp on the 1980s revival trend in a blush colored cocktail frock from Ulyana Sergeenko. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)

Pregnant Natalie Portman has been promoting her film "Jackie" in a series of sweet frocks and this yellow, sheer number with floral applique was a total hit. 

 (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

We're in denial about how incredible this dress is! Actress Rachel Weisz hit the "Denial" premiere in a floral dress with sheer sleeves and stunning embroidery. 

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

Johnny Depp's daughter, Lily-Rose Depp has been making the film festival rounds and we love this feather-like frock with statement heels. 

 (Photo by Michael Tran/WireImage)

Actress Rashida Jones stunned in a black jumpsuit with an assymmetrical sleeve and a pretty V-neck. 

 (Photo by Dominik Magdziak Photography/Getty Images)

She's ravishing in red and a knockout in white! Actress Amy Adam went to the "Nocturnal Animals" premiere in a one-shoulder gown with a sophisticated cut.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Earlier in the week, Natalie Portman hit the red carpet for her other movie "Planetarium" in a white Dior dress with a sophisticated and simple pattern. 

 (Photo by Michael Tran/WireImage)

Camila Alves tagged along to the "Sing" premiere with her husband, Matthew McConaughey, and she nearly stole the show in a white, lace dress with floral print. She's definitely holding onto summer with this look. 

 (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

She's a mod gal! Emma Stone rocked a yellow, sequined dress and a headband for her premiere for "La La Land." 

(Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves clearly color-coordinated for the "Sing" premiere. Matt rocked a neutral tie to match his lady's dress. (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

Golden girls! Actresses Reese Witherspoon, Lupita Nyong'o and Michelle Williams all looked equally lovely in their outfits. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Red hot! Jennifer Hudson looked lovely in a bright red gown with a wrap around bodice. She polished off the look with lips to match! (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

Singer Tori Kelly put her best foot forward at TIFF in a pretty, black jumpsuit with a bow-tie detail and wide-leg pants. 

 (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)

The cast of "Sing" was dressed to impress for TIFF. Nick Kroll, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, singers Tori Kelly, Jennifer Hudson and actor Taron Egerton all showed up for the premiere. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)

Lupita Nyong'o also attended the Tiffany and Co. dinner and looked incredible in a bright blue jumpsuit and finished it off with a gorgeous green hair scarf. 

 (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

"Quantico" star Aunjanue Ellis looked stunning a bright, tie-dyed style jumpsuit at the Vanity Fair and Tiffany & Co. dinner. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Wow! Lupita Nyong'o was an absolute standout in a  blue and yellow Carolina Herrera dress with a matching, traditional African gele for the premiere of "Queen of Katwe." 

(Photo by Michael Tran/WireImage)

Gemma Arterton made her mark at TIFF in a a black jumpsuit with a backless top. It was a modern, fresh and cool look. 

 (Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Actress Shailene Woodley attends the premiere of 'Snowden' at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 14: Sigourney Weaver arrives at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival - 'Una' premiere held at Princess of Wales Theatre on September 14, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael Tran/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 14: Actress Michelle Rodriguez attends the '(Re) Assignment' premiere during 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre on September 14, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Anita Zvonar Photography/WireImage)

The audience award winners are voted on by festival-goers after public screenings. The festival also has several jury prizes, one of which recognized Pablo Larrain's "Jackie," a biopic about Jacqueline Kennedy. The film took the platform prize, which rewards superior filmmaking. "Jackie" entered the festival looking for distribution. Fox Searchlight beat out a number of bidders to land rights to the project and is expected to do a major awards push for star Natalie Portman.

Here are the other winners:

Dropbox Discovery Programme Filmmakers Award: "Jeffrey"

Short Cuts Awards (Canadian film): "Mutants"

Short Cuts Awards Best Short Film: "Imago"

City Of Toronto Award Best First Canadian Feature: "Old Stone"

Canada Goose Best Canadian Feature: "Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves"

Fipresci Jury Prize, Discovery Section: "Kati Kati"

Special Presentation Section: "I Am Not Madame Bovary"

Network For Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) award: "In Between"

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