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Colin Firth

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Maybe the star power wasn't as strong for the closing weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival as it had been for the first when Natalie Portman, Hilary Swank and Nicole Kidman were on hand, but these final, less fabulous few days are important for two things:

And only one of them involves vampires.

The other is the awarding of the Festival's People's Choice Award. In years past it has done as much, if not more, to help films than all the Fest's blur of parties and press opportunities. Previous winners have included Brokeback Mountain, Precious, Slumdog Millionaire, American Beauty and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

When the people of Toronto speak, it's a fairly serious indicator that Oscar will come calling.

This year, the winner of the big prize was The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth as the reluctant, real-life King George VI who took the British throne in 1936 in the wake of his brother's abdication and was called on to rally the Empire in the face of a coming war with Nazi Germany. With a cast full of Oscar-caliber actors including Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Gambon, The King's Speech is now officially primed as a serious contender in this year's Academy Awards.

Not bad for a film no one had heard of two weeks ago.

Oh, and the vampires? Stake Land, a vampire road film starring newly hitched Top Gun star Kelly McGilis, took the Midnight Madness nod, beating out films featuring stars like Rainn Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton.


See more stars in 2010 Toronto Film Festival gallery!