BEST ACTOR: Sarah Polley
Some of Canada's best film actors hold their own performances at a skeptical distance. Sarah Polley can do that trick, but her own signature move is an unnerving gaze. A Polley close-up can strip paint. Even more staggering is the impression that she's subjecting her own soul to the same still intelligence. Kristen Thomson and Matthew Ferguson are always impressive, but Polley's courage rocks hard.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER: Paul Sarossy
Paul Sarossy was born in Barrie and can photograph winter chill better than anyone. He's been shooting Atom Egoyan's films for 15 years, and it's his way of moving a camera through cold, clean air that sets the mood for The Sweet Hereafter, Paul Schrader's Affliction, The Snow Walker and even the recent genre film The River King. Sarossy's winter look -- stark lines and lush textures -- aren't all he does well, but it's what makes him a great Toronto cinematographer.
BEST DOCUMENTARIAN: Mongrel Media's Ali Kazimi
In a city crowded with great documentary filmmakers -- Allan King , John Walker , Richard Fung , Laura Sky , Peter Lynch -- Ali Kazimi stands out. Trained as a cinematographer, he pays close attention to the visual plan of all his films. But it's the larger project that's impressive. Whether it's the story of an Iroquois photographer, Canadian government racism or villagers resisting an Indian mega-dam, there's a common thread. Kazimi's films are both the ongoing diary of an immigrant and a wide-ranging critique of hidden power.
BEST EDITOR: Ronald Sanders
The diner shootout in A History Of Violence is a master class in editing. So are the hallucinations in Spider and every minute of Dead Ringers, where Jeremy Irons seamlessly plays twin brothers. You'd have to sit in the editing room to know how much of that art is David Cronenberg's and how much belongs to Ronald Sanders , but since they've been working together since 1979, it's fair to say that what Thelma Schoonmaker is to Martin Scorsese's movies, Sanders is to Cronenberg's.
BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKER: Mike Hoolboom
Mike Hoolboom has made a film with no images at all, apart from a white screen. He has made films entirely from found footage. He has flooded films with his voice, and dispersed his voice among others. Celluloid, video, image, text, fiction, unfiction -- everything is material to be worked, sweated and thrown up on screen. Hoolboom's restless, brainy missives from inside his head aren't just the work of a writer who makes films, but of an artist who writes in pictures and sounds.
BEST FILM DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
At the recent film fest, David Cronenberg , Atom Egoyan and Deepa Mehta had films in the running. Each was worthy, but the best - most original, most daring - turned out to be Cronenberg's A History Of Violence. Here are all his usual themes - obsession, blood, paranoia - in a stylish package, with performances that rise above the ordinary. The recent two-disc DVD of The Fly looks better than ever.
BEST FIRST-RUN MOVIE THEATRE: Varsity
The Eglinton and York are both no longer, and the Carlton - while it's a great place to catch up on arthouse flicks weeks after they've stopped showing elsewhere - just doesn't cut it in terms of comfort. The Paramount is too loud and noisy, although it's great if you haven't eaten before a show. The best bet is the trusted old Varsity : theatres with great sightlines, good feng shui in the hallways, and those awesome VIP rooms if you feel like splurging and making like you're in your own personal screening room. Bonus: you don't have to step outdoors if you're coming from the subway (though, for the record, parking is cheap at night underground), and the Manulife foyer is a great place to see and be seen.
BEST PLACE TO WATCH SMALL MOVIES: Cinecycle
Sometimes the movies are 8mm small, but Cinecyle is devoted to just about every brand of alt-cinema. The legendary Martin Heath oversees all, whether it's radical underground screenings from the Pleasure Dome crew or less mainstream fare. Tucked in behind 129 Spadina Avenue, Cinecyle is also a good place to hear bands play and to watch house cats watch movies.
Most Valuable Player on the Scene: Hussain Amarshi
Distributors are the people who put Toronto's wealth of world cinema on movie screens, and we're lucky enough to have people who still make the occasional decision with their hearts. Ron Mann and Gary Topp wear theirs right on their sleeve with their company FilmsWeLike . Tony Cianciotta brings passion to his picks at Capri Releasing . In that context, Hussain Amarshi is a marvel. He built Mongrel Media on a series of hard-nosed business decisions, but for moviegoers that results in films like After Life, The Corporation, Talk To Her and Winged Migration -- all films we loved in this city.
BEST SCREENWRITER: Vera Frenkel
Nobody in Toronto can make a career just writing movies, but that doesn't mean we lack for screenwriters. Don McKellar is brilliant at writing classic Toronto characters, and Semi Chellas has a genius for story precision. But the best screenwriter in the city writes for video and computer screens. Multimedia artist Vera Frenkel creates worlds that live between Canada and Europe, memory and bureaucracy, art and the art system. One early tape is called Signs Of A Plot, and that double entendre extends even to her recent Web works. For the full story, vtape.org has a new DVD boxed set of her work.
The Bloor 506 Bloor West, 416-516-2331
It's a friendly family business that supports independent film from diverse cultures. Good prices, too. - LYN HALIBURTON
innis town hall 2 Sussex, 416-946-7066
The Cinema Studies Student Union shows free films every Friday during the school year. Where else can you see the best in Canadian, classic and international movies and not have someone give you the old stinkeye for eating popcorn. There are also free sneak previews of movies, film festivals and talks by local artists, and every second year the CINSSU hosts a panel discussion featuring Canadian filmmakers. - ERIN RODGERS
Carlton 20 Carlton, 416-598-2309
Sure, the screens and sound may not be huge, but where else can you see movies theatrically that are a little bit off the beaten path? I've discovered some of my favourite movies of all time here (City Of God comes to mind), and the place has a certain ambience I can't describe. Plus, the bar/café is a great place to hang out before the show starts. A cinemaniac's paradise! - STEVE WRIGHT
Harbourfront's Free Flicks CIBC Stage, 235 Queens Quay West, 416-973-4000
It's free, it's outdoors and it's oh-so-Toronto: right beside Lake Ontario, with a view of the CN Tower through the glass roof. - LEON MAR