On the final day of the Toronto International Film Festival, CBC arts reporter Zulekha Nathoo shares her favourite films from the 2012 edition and her red carpet highlights.
After 11 days that saw celebrities rushing between countless movie screenings, red carpets, interviews, parties and film-related events, the Toronto International Film Festival comes to a close once again.
As a final volley, CBCers recount some of their most memorable moments covering this year's festival by presenting this highly subjective, often tongue-in-cheek and completely unofficial list of TIFF awards:
The newly zen celeb prize: Many a reporter was taken aback by the pensive, somewhat philosophical and soft-spoken Bruce Willis at the Looper press conference at the beginning of the fest. So were some autograph-seekers who found the formerly brusque action star generous with his time for fans gathered outside the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
The best shoutout to fans prize: "I'm coming back! I promise! I just have to take care of business[talk to reporters] first!" Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, at TIFF for the film Smashed, called out to those by the barricades screaming her name.
The most darling married celebs prize: Actress Emily Blunt and actor hubby John Krasinski (The Office, Away We Go), were sweet, affectionate and really, really good-looking on the red carpet for her film Looper, the festival opener.
The keepin’ it real prize: Though in a more spiritual space after his musically eye-opening trip to the reggae homeland of Jamaica (documented in his film Reincarnated), the newly dubbed Snoop Lion dropped several well-placed F-bombs when explaining how he'll maintain his Snoop Dogg persona for his rap fans as well as in his one-of-a-kind endorsement for U.S. President Barack Obama.
The who knew? prize: Chinese action star Jackie Chan, in town for a Mavericks chat and for TIFF's inaugural Asian Film Summit, demonstrated his country music skills by serenading George Stroumboulopoulos with a bit of Can't Help Falling in Love with You during an interview taping.
The let's be honest prize: In an industry where honesty isn't always the best policy, End of Watch director David Ayer and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena were refreshingly candid about how the two actors didn't click off-camera, despite their roles as partnered beat cops and best friends in the crime thriller.
The coolest re-creation prize: Jason Reitman's live table read of American Beauty, featuring a cast that included Bryan Cranston, Sarah Gadon, Christina Hendricks and George Stroumboulopoulos.
The let's be honest prize, part II: Gwyneth Paltrow, who turned up in ultra glamorous, five-inch animal-print stilettos for her red carpet stroll into the Thanks for Sharing gala, admitted to reporters that her feet hurt and the heels were much too high.
The remarkably game prize: Though violently ill from food poisoning picked up in New York the night prior, actor-musician Jared Leto brokered a brief delay before turning up for interviews about his documentary Artifact. Yes, he was pale and low energy, but ultimately a great sport all things considered.
The most improved prize: Actor, filmmaker and musician Billy Bob Thornton, who left an unforgettable impression on Canadians with his infamous 2009 radio chat with Jian Ghomeshi on Q, was on his best behaviour on this return visit to Toronto for his film Jayne Mansfield's Car. Alongside friendly exchanges with media, he expressed his fondness for the city and even allowed a few curious reporters to tug on his soul patch.
The baring it all prize: Let's call it a tie between Sarah Polley's emotionally revealing documentary Stories We Tell and Helen Hunt's all-the-more revealing role as a sex therapist in the touching comedy-drama The Sessions.
The most gracious to fans prize: The premiere of Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing attracted scores of die-hard Serenity and Firefly devotees, eager to see stars like Nathan Fillion and Sean Maher. Both spent time with the crowd and posed for photos, but after spotting a fan who had missed out snagging Fillion's autograph on a Firefly DVD, Maher rose above and beyond. He carried the item to be signed over to his co-star — by this time already on the red carpet — himself. Once suitably inked, he sent the DVD back to the hugely grateful fan.
The staying-on-message prize: Canadian heartthrob Ryan Gosling raved about how he's always fantasized about being a bank robber and also to ride really fast motorcycles. How cool is it that he got to do both in The Place Beyond the Pines? So cool, in fact, that he enthused about it in countless red carpet interviews and again in his one-on-ones.
The I don't do red carpets prize: A number of stars chose to maintain their aloof, mysterious personas by walking the red carpet into their gala screenings but breezing past reporters waiting to talk to them. We're looking at you, Ben Foster and Joaquin Phoenix.
The celeb you want to hang out with prize: As one would expect, Penelope Cruz is all curves, lustrous hair and doe eyes. But there's also more to the Twice Born star than expected. She exudes life and when discussing her film (about the war in Bosnia) she was thoughtful, not given to pat answers and talked openly about the scars of the war on the face of Sarajevo. She joked, too. She graciously accepted another journalist's gift — which included a teddy bear for her son and a vanity case with a women's leg shaver — with the quip: "I need this! Look, why do you think I'm wearing pants?" After that, you totally understand why directors Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar and hubby Javier Bardem love her.
(Contributions from Zulekha Nathoo, Eli Glasner, Laura Thompson, George Stroumboulopoulos, Nigel Hunt, Jessica Wong, Donna Lee Aprile, Deana Sumanac and Alice Hopton)