OTTAWA - The Imitation Game, a biopic of British codebreaker Alan Turing starring Benedict Cumberbatch, won the Toronto International Film Festival's top prize on Sunday, confirming its status as an early Oscars contender.
Morten Tyldum's World War II-era drama also stars Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech of the hit TV series Downton Abbey, and features a rare German Enigma code machine from the war.
"There was something very subtle, uncompromising and unusual about (Turing), but also very quiet and stoic," Cumberbatch, who has been generating Oscar buzz for his portrayal of the computer-sciences pioneer, said last week in Toronto.
"He didn't knowingly martyr himself. He was just true to himself. He didn't see himself as a victim or a hero, he just did work and behaved true to his nature."
Turing was a brilliant Cambridge mathematician who broke Nazi German codes for the British military during World War II, helping to shorten the war.
He ended his life in sadness, committing suicide in 1954 at the age of 41, two years after being convicted of the then crime of homosexuality.
Turing was awarded a posthumous pardon by Queen Elizabeth II in December, following a long campaign by supporters.
Sunday's prize puts The Imitation Game among the early Oscars frontrunners.
Three of the past six winners in Toronto went on to win best picture at the Oscars, including 12 Years A Slave, The King's Speech and Slumdog Millionaire.
Cumberbatch, star of the TV drama series Sherlock, played a somewhat sympathetic plantation owner in 12 Years.