Sarah Polley capped off what she called the best year of her life when her documentary snagged the Rogers Prize for best Canadian feature film for at the Toronto Film Critics Association gala last.
Polley, who had already received the Allan King documentary award for the movie, was obviously blown away by the honour, graciously thanking her sponsor, who forked over a cheque for $100,000.
Not that Rogers got off all that easy during the evening. Canuck film producer Bill House was heard grumbling about how weird it was that Rogers was doling out the cash when they're not exactly known for buying Canadian films.
And award presenter Don McKellar - hilarious as always - while celebrating the TFCA's coup in having snagged such a generous sponsor paused to remark slyly, "There must be some hidden fees in there somewhere - it can't be as good as it seems."
The awards presentation, hosted by TIFF's Cameron Bailey, was consistently entertaining, bringing hoots of appreciation from the well-oiled crowd, with presenters and recipients tossing off some excellent one-liners.
Emily Hampshire was a gas as she read a rambling letter from best director and best picture winner Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master). While presenting the best doc award, Rick Mercer commented that he loves to watch movies on Air Canada, since the airline seems to be the only outlet screening Canadian film.
Jian Ghomeshi grumbled that he'd only been asked to present an award the day before "Strombo obviously wasn't available."
In his letter of thanks, Benh Zeitlin, co-winner of the best first feature award (for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, which tied with Beyond The Black Rainbow), sent a note bemoaning the fact that he couldn't make it to town to accept the award. Taking a swipe at T.O.'s pathetic sports teams, he allowed, "it would have been nice to see that a trophy could finally be raised in Toronto."
Jay Scottt emerging artist award Patricia Rozema had polled the guests during the cocktail reception as to whether should admit that she didn't know winner Nicolás Pereda's films. She skillfully did confess that she hadn't seen the work.
But from the perspective of a TFCA member like myself, one of the most fun parts of the night involves trying to find my fellow critics, the ones I see mostly in the dark scarfing back muffins and danish and not looking at all like they'd fit into a fancy-schmancy gala like this one. But clean up they did - as I know they were there and I could find almost none of them.