The red carpets have been rolled up and the A-listers have left the city, but Toronto is still on a high from all the action and movie madness that took place during the Toronto International Film Festival’s eleven-day run.

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Story by Sheetal Maya Nanda

From the films generating the most Oscar buzz to the hottest red carpets, Jugni Style takes a look back at the best and worst moments from TIFF 2013.

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Best Film: By Day 3, TIFF-goers all over town were raving about U.K. director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, so it was no surprise when the film took home the coveted Blackberry People’s Choice Award. Based on Solomon Northup’s memoir, the film tells his remarkable story as a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery and finally freed 12 years later. With past winners including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and Silver Linings Playbook, the award is an excellent prediction of which films will receive Best Picture nominations at the Oscars.

The first runner up was Stephen Frears’ Philomena and the second runner up was Canadian director Denis Vileneuve’s Prisoners. Be sure to catch 12 Years A Slave, which releases in theatres on October 18, 2013.

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Best Asian Film: We’re thrilled that Anup Singh’s outstanding Punjabi film Qissa won this year’s NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award for Best Asian film. Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, The Lunchbox) stars as Umber Singh, a Sikh who is forced to flee his village during the 1947 Partition, and build a new home for his family. He obsessively wishes for a male heir, but when his fourth daughter is born, he decides to wage a fight against destiny. Qissa received this prestigious award for its sensitive portrayal of the issues of identity and displacement that affect people not only in India but also across the world. The NETPAC jury cited Qissa as a film that is bound to provoke thoughts, spark debate and give its viewers an intense experience.

Oscar Contenders: There was no shortage of Hollywood-heavy film premieres at the festival this year. While 12 Years A Slave has secured its status as the Oscar frontrunner, other films generating praise and Oscar buzz are Dallas Buyer’s Club, Labor Day, Gravity, Prisoners and Philomena.

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We’re also fairly certain that the following actors and actresses will receive Academy Award nods:

  • Best Actress: Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Kate Winslet (Labor Day) and Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejifor (12 Years A Slave), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club) and Hugh Jackman (Prisoners)
  • Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave) and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club)
  • Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)

Most Talked About Actor: Without a doubt, this was the year of Benedict Cumberbatch, who starred in three high profile films at TIFF (The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County and 12 Years A Slave). Our runner up is Daniel Radcliffe. He’s working hard to shed his Harry Potter image and starred in 3 very diverse films: Horns, The F-Word and Kill Your Darlings.

Most Disappointing Film: Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate underwhelmed both critics and audiences at the festival.

Best Bidding War: We give this honour to Jason Bateman’s feature directorial debut, Bad Words. It is hilarious, completely vulgar and had the audience in stitches. The dark comedy is about the ruthless 40 year-old Guy Trilby (played by Bateman), who competes in the National Spelling Bee after discovering a loophole in the rules. As the contest progresses, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely friendship with his biggest competition in the Bee, 10 year-old Chaitanya (played by Rohan Chand of Homeland). The intense bidding war for the film started immediately after the film’s premiere on Day 2. Focus Features finally grabbed the worldwide rights for a whopping $7 million, validating Bateman as a director. Bad Words is set to release in 2014.

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Best Dressed Female: Kiera Knightley at the Can A Song Save Your Life premiere, wearing a stunning strapless Mary Katrantzou dress paired with nude Louboutins. Other favourites were the gorgeous ladies in red: Jennifer Garner at the Dallas Buyer’s Club premiere and Julia Roberts on the red carpet for August: Osage County.

Best Dressed Male: Daniel Radcliffe looking dapper in his eggplant coloured suit (complete with a white pocket square) on the red carpet for Kill Your Darlings.

Best Dressed Couple: Newly engaged Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis on the red carpet for Rush. They’re adorable!

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Best Party Venue: SoHo House was once again the hottest spot in town for A-list celebrities. The swanky members-only club partnered with Grey Goose this year to host numerous industry parties, including The Fifth Estate bash and a private party for the cast of August: Osange County thrown by Harvey Weinstein.

Best Surprise: Brad Pitt walking the red carpet and graciously greeting fans at the world premiere of 12 Years A Slave at the Princess of Wales Theatre. A close second was Taylor Swift’s surprise appearance for the premiere of the Paul Potts biopic, One Chance. Producer Harvey Weinstein flew her to Toronto for the premiere at the Elgin Theatre, where she stole the spotlight away from the British tenor.

Worst Surprise: Meryl Streep failing to show up for the premiere of her film due to illness, devastating fans who waited up to 8 hours for her outside Roy Thompson Hall.

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Worst technical luck: Both screenings of Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox were interrupted by technical difficulties. During the film’s premiere on Day 4 at Roy Thompson Hall, the subtitles failed to appear on screen mid-film causing a 45-minute delay. The next day, TIFF’s film projector broke 20 minutes before the movie’s end, forcing the director and actor Irrfan Khan to entertain the audience while TIFF tried to fix the problem. Unfortunately, nothing could be done and many TIFF-goers have been left in the dark as to what happens at the end of the movie because Batra refused to tell them!

Most Ridiculous Outburst: Alex Billington takes cinema etiquette very seriously. The blogger dialed 911 during a press screening for The Sacrament to report cell phone use. After the emergency dispatcher laughed at him, Billington took to Twitter to vent his frustrations and explain that he believed an act of piracy was being committed. Although extreme, we appreciate Alex trying to “fight the good fight” against texting and checking email in a movie theatre.

Best Doppelganger: A fake James Franco was seen all over town attending parties and posing for photographs with screaming fans. Was this another one of Franco’s art installations?

Story By: Sheetal Maya Nanda  |  Photography: TIFF, Zimbio, Getty Images