Well, many of us expected Michel Hazanavicius's silent-cinema homage "The Artist" to take the Audience Award at Toronto last week. That didn't come to pass, but it has just taken the equivalent prize at the San Sebastian Film Festival -- a less high-profile honor, certainly, but one that further proves the film's crowd-pleasing chops.
What's perhaps most notable about the award is the number of high-profile films it beat to get it: also in the running, in a selection of 2011's finest the festival dubs the Zabaltegi Pearls section, were "Le Havre," "The Tree of Life," "Drive," "A Separation," "Pina," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Shame" and others.
It's interesting, given the strength of the competition, that surprise Toronto champ "Where Do We Go Now?" placed second in the audience balloting by only a handful of votes; for a film that stirred very little buzz on its Cannes debut, the Lebanese Oscar hopeful sure is making its presence felt now.
Also of interest is that downbeat British drama "Tyrannosaur," with its staggering, Oscar-worthy performance from Olivia Colman, placed third -- beating out several titles with far more obvious audience appeal. You can check out the full Audience Award tally here.
In the Spanish festival's main competition, meanwhile, it was local film "The Double Steps," a biopic of French legionnaire and artist François Augiéras, that took the top prize, while "Le Skylab," the latest directorial effort from actress Julie Delpy, took runner-up honors. Meanwhile, "A Separation" took the TVE Otra Mirada Award, whatever that may be, while "Albert Nobbs," in addition to providing a platform for a career honor for Glenn Close at the festival, also took the Sebastiane 2011 Award. Just so you know.
Full list of winners can be found at the festival site here.