TIFF audiences pick Eastern Promises; blogTO picks its faves

On Saturday afternoon, the Toronto International Film Festival handed out its awards, bestowing honours on the usual perplexing array of films from around the world that otherwise spent their time at the festival this year well below the public's radar.

The public's radar, on the other hand, was front-and-centre for the Cadillac People's Choice Award, the founding father of all those godforsaken "Be an original" ads that preceded the feature films this year ("Death Shark!" "Dance Fight!"). First place in the popularity contest goes to David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, with a runner-up prize to Jason Reitman's brilliant Juno.

blogTO's film crew was all over the fest this year with their coverage. Read on to find out what we picked as the best of the festival.

Matt, a.k.a. me:

Best film: XXY. The best film about gender identity I've ever seen. When your kids come to you asking what "gay" and "straight" mean, this is the film you show them to demonstrate that those words mean absolutely nothing. XXY was the third-last film I saw in the 51-film week, and stunned me with its raw, simple power, along with an astonishing lead performance by InĂŠs Efron as a hermaphrodite 15-year-old being told that she must now choose her identity.

Runner up by a very narrow margin: Juno. It's this year's Little Miss Sunshine, only without the enormous feeling of emotional manipulation and grossness. And the single best ensemble cast I've seen in about ten years, lead by the formidable Ellen Page (but a big sloppy wet shout-out goes to the incredible Allison Janney in a supporting role).

And one honourable mention: Catherine Breillat's Une Vielle Maitresse. The director nearly died of a stroke, came back and made a movie that kicks hard French aristocratic ass. And has the best use of blood in a sexual context I've ever seen.

Andrea, podcastress extraordinaire:

My favorite movie would have to be Sukiyaki Western Django. Maybe it was the atmosphere at Midnight Madness that put me in such a good mood - the smell of booze and cheers in the air or maybe it was the opening Takashi Miike video that just set everything right. The film itself was nonstop laughs and good times. A bonus was the fact that Quentin Tarrantino wasn't as annoying as I thought he would be. He actually stole the show at times.

Runner up: No Country For Old Men. This movie is a masterpiece. Plain and simple. Can I go as far as saying it's better than Fargo? I will. Javier Bardem is the scariest villain to come around in ages, and Tommy Lee Jones deserves an Oscar for his role as Sheriff Bell.

Johnny, film writer and man about town:

More than most times during the year, TIFF is where I see the most arthouse films in a single week. However, my favourite movie at this year's fest is Son of Rambow. It's not an art film, but it's the most original and clever thing I saw all week. Crackling British wit spread across one enjoyable scene after another, Garth Jenning's reverent and hilarious homage to childhood imagination should especially charm those who can remember watching First Blood (or any genre flick from the 80s) for the first time on VHS. It evoked some of my warmest memories of how much fun it was growing up with a simple yet deep love for movies.

Runner up: Mister Lonely is Harmony Korine's best movie. Hands down, it's his most mature and narratively coherent film to date. But still, every now and then that old familiar curiosity of this one-time wunderkind of cult cinema pops into mind: "Where the hell does he get these ideas from?" Regardless, in the idiosyncratic inventions of Korine's storytelling, these ideas work brilliantly.

Sameer, the heart of the team:

Favourite: No Country for Old Men. Let's just say that if you don't think that Javier Bardem is not the most nightmare-inducing character in modern cinema, you really need to get your head checked.

Runners up: Persepolis, My Brother is an Only Child, Juno, and Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame

Tim, supreme commander and master of economic writing:

I loved Persepolis and East of Heaven.

I hated I'm Not There.

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