Nomadland, the recession-era retirees study starring Frances McDormand, has won the Toronto film festival people’s choice award, adding the influential prize to the Venice Golden Lion it was awarded a week ago.

The Toronto award is much prized in the industry, as it counts a significant number of Oscar best picture awards and nominees among its recent winners, including Green Book (2018), Room (2015) and 12 Years a Slave (2013). Nomadland’s director Chloé Zhao is also the first woman to win the award since 2011, when Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now? triumphed. Nomadland would now appear to be a major contender for end-of-year awards, with a best picture Oscar nomination a virtual certainty

Nomadland, inspired by Jessica Bruder’s 2017 nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, dramatises the experiences of a generation affected by the 2008 recession who can no longer afford either to retire or a permanent home. It has attracted glowing notices across the board: in a five-star review, the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called it “a gentle, compassionate, questioning film about the American soul”, while EW’s Leah Greenblatt described it as “a film that feels both necessary and sublime”.

Related: Nomadland review – Frances McDormand delivers the performance of her career

Regina King’s directorial debut, One Night in Miami, about the serendipitous meeting of four significant African American figures – Malcolm X, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and the then-Cassius Clay – after the latter’s 1964 bout with Sonny Liston, was the people’s choice award runner-up, with Beans, an account of the 1990 Oka crisis standoff between Mohawk communities and civil authorities in Canada, was the second runner-up.

Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian, drawn from Thomas King’s book of the same title about the cultural colonisation of indigenous Americans, won the documentary people’s choice award, while Shadow in the Cloud, a horror movie featuring Chloë Grace Moretz trapped in a second world war plane, won the Midnight Madness people’s choice.