The nominees for this year’s Can-Oscars, better and more formally know as the Genie Awards (now entering its 32nd year of existence), have been announced, and while there aren’t necessarily many surprises in what’s included there’s always room to complain about it.
Leading the pack with 13 nominations, including nods for best picture and director, is Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallee’s Café de Flore, a mind bending and somewhat divisive journey through sight, sound, and the lives of a modern day divorced jet setting DJ and a 1960s French single mother trying to raise a son with Down syndrome. The film, which was also recently named to TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten, also scored notices for supporting actress Vanessa Paradis, supporting actor Marin Gerrier, and for Vallee’s original screenplay, amongst a slew of technical notices.
Following close behind with 11 nominations was the arguably not all that Canadian A Dangerous Method. While directed by stalwart director David Cronenberg (who is also up for best director alongside Vallee for another best picture nominee), the film features only some Canadian talent in front of and behind the camera and was largely filmed and financed in Europe. Also receiving nominations for the film are actors Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender for their work as scholarly rivals Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, respectively.
Joining Café de Flore and Dangerous Method in the race for Best Picture are the heartbreaking TIFF 2011 Best Canadian Feature Monsieur Lazhar, the crowd pleasing Quebecios surrogate father slacker comedy Starbuck, and, somewhat surprisingly, last summer’s Rachel Weisz starring political thriller The Whistleblower.
While four of the five nominees for best picture also secured spots for their directors, Starbuck director Ken Scott found his place in the category taken by first time feature director Steven Silver for his work on the photojournalist drama The Bang Bang Club. While not up for a best picture nomination, Silver’s film also received notices for Vancouver’s Taylor Kitsch for best supporting actor and for his adapted screenplay from Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva’s best selling book.
Possibly the most glaring omissions from the best picture category belong to Nathan Morlando’s well received debut feature Edwin Boyd, about the famed Toronto bank robber and folk hero, and Sarah Polley’s latest film, Take This Waltz. While Morlando was even shut out for his work on Boyd’s screenplay, lead actor Scott Speedman, supporting actor Kevin Durand, and supporting actress Charlotte Sullivan were all recognized for their efforts.
Polley’s film, on the other hand, which still doesn’t open for a couple of months, seems to be losing a lot of its curiosity since TIFF with only two nominations: one for lead actress Michelle Williams and the other for makeup.
Outside the margins of the major categories, the fight for Best Documentary Feature looks to be a very strong one with Jay Cheel’s delightfully funny Beauty Day going head to head with Julia Ivanova’s indelibly powerful Family Portrait in Black and White. That’s to say nothing of the political intrigue of The Guantanamo Trap, David York’s stellar Wiebo’s War, and Isabelle Lavigne’s La Nuit. Despite the star power in the other categories, the documentary contingent holds the greatest number of “must see” films. Any one of these five could’ve had a chance at besting some of the actual best picture nominees. This might be the most interesting category to see play out of the night.
The 32nd annual Genie Awards will air on CBC on March 8th. For a full list of nominees, head to genieawards.ca.