On the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden, Harry Styles is a genuine rockstar, brimming with swagger and self-confidence as he performs in front of 20,000 adoring fans. But Styles, the actor, spoke softly while accepting an acting award for one of his first major film roles at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Styles — a man who speaks relatively little — and the cast of “My Policeman” received the ensemble award at the festival’s Tribute Awards on Sunday night.
“Thank you so much to everyone here, on behalf of all of us, for this wonderful, wonderful award,” said Styles, who stars in the romantic drama as a closed-in police officer. “We all enjoyed working on this film so much. And we hope you enjoy it.
And with that, Styles, holding the train in co-star Emma Corin’s long black dress, left as quickly as they entered the Fairmont Royal York, where the annual gala is being held.
But there were plenty of other A-listers to keep the three-hour party going. Although the festival still lasts several days, Toronto held its fourth annual tribute, with recipients such as ‘The Whale’ star Brendan Fraser, director Sam Mendes, Michelle Yeoh and Hildur Guðnadóttir, the Oscar-winning composer of ‘Joker’ . “Talking Women” and “Tar”.
And fortunately for the organizers of TIFF, the always charming Olivia Colman was the next to take the stage after the departure of Styles and company. The Oscar-winning actor was on hand to present Sam Mendes with the Ebert Director’s Award. But all she could say before the room went dark to play a reel of Mendes’ best moments from the film was, “It’s a pleasure for me to present the TIFF Director’s Award to Sam Mendes,” which made his eyes widen in shock. Cue the laughter of everyone in the audience.
Mendes, whose latest film “Empire of Light” is a touching ode to cinemas and which is on the bill at the festival, was greeted with a standing ovation. It was too much for the British director.
“It was completely unnecessary,” he said.
Since the event is not televised, Mendes joked that he could talk as long as he wanted. And indeed, the “American Beauty” and “Skyfall” director gave a lengthy speech about his career and collaborating with talent, including cinematographer Roger Deakins. He attributed his career to more than his work. “You also need a good dose of fucking luck.”
Michelle Yeoh inspired the second standing “O” of the night. Before she even reached the podium, everyone in the ballroom had already risen to applaud the famous actor. She received the night’s Share Her Journey Groundbreaker award, which was accompanied by clips from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and other popular films from her iconography.
Looking at the compilation of her work, she says, “It reminds me of how long I’ve been doing this. The nicks, bumps, scrapes along the way. But, she adds, “Despite all the challenges, I cherish every moment. I hope to do so for many years to come.
During her speech, Yeoh pushed the entertainment industry to amplify women’s voices saying, “As women, we are privileged to work in one of the most open-minded and avant-garde. And yet, women are still vastly underrepresented in the upper echelons of our industry. Besides needing to be twice as good [we’re] often paid half as much.
Another recipient of the evening, Oscar-winning songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, spoke about the importance of putting Indigenous people in Indigenous roles. “It’s more important than deceiving white people,” Sainte-Marie said. “These people will bring all their culture to your films. Can you imagine the cast of “The Sopranos” without Italians? »
Later, during a dessert break, Fraser reunited with his “The Mummy 3” co-star Yeoh. At a table near the front of the room, Colman and Mendes held court as admirers approached them to praise their work.
Sunday night’s event continued an emotional start to awards season for Fraser, who broke down in tears at the world premiere in Venice of ‘The Whale. His performance as a 600-pound gay man confined to an armchair rolling should put him at the forefront of this year’s Best Actor Oscar race, and his performance was also welcomed at TIFF (although the standing ovation was slightly shorter).
At Sunday’s ceremony, Fraser again looked visually emotional when Aronofsky introduced him, saying, “We need more people like Brendan Fraser, the man and the actor.”
For Fraser, “The Whale” marks a career resurgence as his first major film role in years. He thanked the fans (“It’s the audience that brings cinema to life,” he says) for “keeping me in the work that I love.”
“Art is taking a risk, and you should know that [Aronofsky and screenwriter Samuel D. Hunter] took a chance on me, and I will be forever grateful to them,” he said. “‘The Whale’ is a story of redemption.”
Trophy in hand, Fraser said: “It’s new to me. Normally I’m the guy on the podium handing out these things.
But as awards season approaches, at least so far, Fraser may have to get used to being in the spotlight.