‘The Master’ rules with Toronto film critics, named best film, screenplay

TORONTO – “The Master” rules with the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s psychological period drama nabbed four of the group’s top awards – including best picture, best director and best screenplay, with co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman named best supporting actor.

That makes Toronto critics the latest film group to break from an early consensus of tastemakers that seemed to favour “Zero Dark Thirty” in the run-up to the Oscars.

Both the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle snubbed “The Master” in favour of the Osama bin Laden drama, with the New York group also handing multiple nods to “Lincoln” and the National Board of Review touting “Silver Linings Playbook.”

However, the race appears to be opening up – over the weekend, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle also crowned “The Master” the best of 2012.

Story continues below advertisement

The Toronto prize will be presented at a gala dinner on Jan. 8, 2013, when the association will also announce the Rogers best Canadian film award, which carries a $100,000 purse.

Projects by three established directors are in line for that honour: Sarah Polley’s intensely personal documentary “Stories We Tell,” Denis Côté’s documentary “Bestiare” and Michael Dowse’s hockey comedy “Goon.”

Polley is already a winner, she nabbed the Allan King Documentary Award over acclaimed runners-up “The Queen of Versailles” and “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Other awards went to “ParaNorman” for best animated feature, “Amour” for best foreign-language film and “Beyond the Black Rainbow” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which tied for best first feature.

The best actor prize went to Denis Lavant for “Holy Motors,” while Rachel Weisz was named best actress for her turn in “The Deep Blue Sea” and Gina Gershon scored the best supporting actress title for “Killer Joe.”

“Zero Dark Thirty” did earn several runner-up spots – for best picture, best actress (Jessica Chastain), best director (Kathryn Bigelow) and best screenplay.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association also gave “The Master” four prizes – for best director, best actor, best supporting actress and production design – but handed the best film prize to Michael Haneke’s “Amour.”

Story continues below advertisement

This is the third time Toronto critics have bestowed the best director prize on Anderson – he also won for 1999’s “Magnolia” and 2002’s “Punch-Drunk Love,” while “Magnolia” was named best picture.

He also shared the best screenplay prize with “Being John Malkovich” author Charlie Kaufman in 1999.

Eligible contenders include films released in Canada in 2012 plus films that qualify for the 2012 Oscars and have Canadian distribution scheduled by the end of February 2013.

Next month’s gala will also present the Manulife Financial Student Film Award, which carries a $5,000 prize, and the Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist, which comes with $5,000 and an equivalent value in post-production services.

The Toronto Film Critics Association was established in 1997 and is comprised of Toronto-based journalists and broadcasters who specialize in film criticism and commentary.

All major dailies, weeklies and a variety of other print, electronic and web outlets are represented.