“Nomadland” is off and running in the race for best picture.
Chloe Zhao’s road-trip drama, starring Frances McDormand, won the People's Choice Award on Sunday at Toronto International Film Festival, shoring up an early Oscar lead after the film won the Golden Lion last weekend at Venice Film Festival.
McDormand stars as Fern, a woman who travels around the country, living out of her van, after she loses both her husband and her home when her rural Nevada mining town is essentially wiped out in an economic collapse.
The runners-up for the audience award were also directed by women: First runner-up was “One Night in Miami,” directed by Regina King, which imagines a night in 1964 when Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, Same Cooke and Malcolm X gather to celebrate about Clay’s crowning as heavyweight champion of the world. Second runner-up was Tracey Deer’s “Beans,” about a protracted standoff between two Mohawk communities and the government in 1990 Quebec.
Save a seat for Frances McDormand: 'Nomadland' is Oscar-ready
Toronto’s top prize is famously an Oscar bellwether. In 11 of the past 12 years, the honoree has gone on to score a best picture nomination at the Academy Awards, as Taika Waititi’s World War II satire “Jojo Rabbit” did last year, and in four instances won the category: "Slumdog Millionaire," "The King's Speech," "12 Years a Slave" and "Green Book."
Roseanne Liang’s WWII horror thriller "Shadow in the Cloud” won the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, while the documentary award went to Michelle Latimer’s “Inconvenient Indian,” adapted from Thomas King’s book about the relationship between Native Americans and white colonists.
Contributing: Brian Truitt
Toronto Film Festival: Regina King speaks out after blowing critics away with 'One Night in Miami'
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Nomadland': Frances McDormand film wins Toronto Film Fest’s top prize