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CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS Sunday (March 3), 8 pm, on CBC-TV.
If you're still smarting over the debacle of Seth MacFarlane's Oscar night (and seriously, that was so embarrassing the Academy should consider not even producing a show until MacFarlane has apologized to every single viewer), then Sunday night's inaugural Canadian Screen Awards telecast should help you get over it.
For one thing, it's hosted by Martin Short, who's about as far removed from MacFarlane's leering frat-boy horndog as you can get. For another, it's Canadian, which means the most controversial moment will come when Short jokingly thanks Ben Affleck for pronouncing "Toronto" correctly in Argo.
Really, we're not a nation that likes edginess. The Canadian Screen Awards - which fuse the film-oriented Geminis and the TV-centric Genies into a single production - will recognize entirely respectable nominees.
Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's Inch'Allah, Xavier Dolan's Laurence Anyways, Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children, Kim Nguyen's Rebelle and Michael McGowan's Still Mine are all up for best picture and numerous other nominations.
Given our pathological obsession with being recognized by other countries, Rebelle's status as an Oscar nominee for this year's best foreign-language feature - and the fact that it made it all the way to the awards - likely gives it the edge for best picture, though I don't know if Nguyen's moody, stylized take on child soldiering will be able to unseat Mehta's lavish adaptation of Salman Rushdie's sprawling allegorical novel. Which counts for more, the Oscar nomination or the Booker Prize-winning source novel?
Should I even lay odds on Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell winning best documentary feature? Nisha Pahuja's The World Before Her is a solid competitor, but Polley's been racking up so much acclaim for her powerhouse examination of her own family - including the Toronto Film Critics Association's $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award - that she seems unbeatable here. (Full disclosure: I'm the vice-president of the TFCA, and I love the film.)
I'll also be quietly rooting for actual box-office hit Goon in most categories. Michael Dowse's savvy sports comedy didn't land a best-picture nomination, but it's in play in six other categories, with two supporting-actor slots (for Jay Baruchel, who co-wrote the film with Evan Goldberg, and for Kim Coates) and nods for director, adapted screenplay, cinematography and makeup.
It'd be nice to see Baruchel rewarded for his efforts as a writer, but he's up against Rushdie for Midnight's Children and David Cronenberg for Cosmopolis, so it seems like a stretch... but imagine the speech if Baruchel actually wins.