The Screenies are upon us!

Two days before the Oscar nominations drop, the Canadian Screen Awards announce this year’s nominations


It’s hard not to be a little cynical about the Canadian Screen Awards, you know?

Yes, the annual celebration of film, television and digital media lets us see what the membership of the Academy Of Canadian Cinema And Television deems worthwhile, and occasionally throws the spotlight on an unknown regional work, as happened this year with the Best Picture nomination for the East Coast feature Cast No Shadow.

And seeing Orphan Black once again garner the most nominations for any TV series – 13 in all, including Best Dramatic Series, a Best Actress nod for Tatiana Maslany, a Best Supporting Actor nod for Jordan Gavaris and two writing nominations – is a sign that good work does get recognized.

On the film side, two smaller pictures are in contention for major prizes: Albert Shin’s In Her Place is up for seven nominations (Picture, Direction, Screenplay, Editing, Leading Actress nominations for Ahn Ji-hye and Yoon Da-kyung and a Supporting Actress nod for  Kil Hae-yeon), while Stephane Lafleur’s Tu Dors Nicole rated six (Picture, Direction, Screenplay, Leading Actress for Julianne Côté, Supporting Actor for Marc-André Grondin and Supporting Actress for Catherine St-Laurent).

But they’re up against the big guns of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy – the 800-lb gorilla of this year’s Screenies, with 13 nominations including Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Antoine Olivier Pilon), Actress (Anne Dorval) and Supporting Actress (Suzanne Clément) – and David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars, which is nearly as intimidating with 11 nominations – including an inexplicable Lead Actor nomination for Evan Bird, who I’m pretty sure has less screen time than Supporting Actor nominee John Cusack, who plays his father.

In any case, Bird’s disaffected child star isn’t the movie’s central character if Maps does have a focus, it’s the tortured souls played by Julianne Moore (nominated for Leading Actress) and Mia Wasikowska (who scored a Supporting Actress nod).

That said, someone floating Bird as a contender for a Best Actor prize is no more ridiculous than seeing Atom Egoyan’s risible thriller The Captive up for four major awards. Okay, Ryan Reynolds getting a Leading Actor nomination makes some sense, since he’s doing his best to give the ridiculous story some emotional reality, but hearing that Egoyan was up for Best Screenplay (with co-writer David Fraser) and Best Director this morning’s press conference felt like a transmission beamed in from an alternate universe.

I don’t mean to blow this entirely out of proportion nominations are just nominations, after all. The Captive isn’t likely to win any awards, and I expect Maps To The Stars won’t take that many home either Xavier Dolan is the closest thing this country has to a superstar right now, and with Mommy failing to make the Oscar’s short list, ACCT voters will be in an even more sympathetic mood.

That said, with voting underway, I’d like to make my own plea to the Academy: take another look at Tu Dors Nicole, would you? If you want to reward a tightly focused Quebecois character piece, this one does the work deftly and without any showy self-indulgence. And now I have to go figure out where to see Cast No Shadow before the big night.

The 2015 Canadian Screen Awards air March 1 at 8 pm on CBC.

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