By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
It’s been a spectacular few days for Quebec writer-director Kim Nguyen. On Thursday his film Rebelle (War Witch) received an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, just one of five titles plucked from a year of world cinema. And back home today, Rebelle tops the list of films honoured by the newly created Canadian Screen Awards, with a total of 12 nominations. Shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his modest but affecting drama about a child soldier—portrayed by Rachel Mwanza, a girl he discovered in the street—trumped much larger Canadian productions such as Midnight’s Children, Goon and Cosmopolis.
On its tail with 10 nominations is Laurence Anyways, the story of a teacher’s transsexual odyssey by Quebec auteur Xavier Dolan. Quebec features dominate the awards with four of the six best picture nominations, the two exceptions being Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Michael McGowan’s Still Mine. Mehta’s adaptation of the Salman Rushdie novel, led the non-Quebec field with eight nominations. Like Rebelle and Laurence Anyways, it also scored nominations for director and screenplay.
Still Mine and Nicole Robert’s l’Affaire Dumont were tied with seven nominations; both have double lead acting nods. Michael Dowse’s hockey comedy, Goon, has six nominations, including best director.
The Academy’s choices differ sharply from those of the Toronto Film Critics Associaton, which honored Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell with its $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award for 2012. The Academy has nominated Polley’s movie in the documentary feature category. Goon, one of the TFCA’s two Rogers runners-up, didn’t figure among the Academy’s six best picture nominees; and the TFCA’s other runner-up, Denis Côté’s experimental doc Bestiaire, received no nominations from the Academy.
Heading the list of TV nominees are Flashpoint, with 11 nominations, Less Than Kind with 10, and Michael with eight. Among the nation’s news programs, CBC’s The National topped the list with six nominations.
Re-engineered by the Academy’s new CEO, former TIFF director Helga Stephenson, the Canadian Screen Awards have merged cinema’s Genie Awards with TV’s Geminis. The winners of the film and TV nominees will be announced at a two-hour inaugural gala hosted my Martin Short and broadcast live Sunday March 3, 2013 at 8 p.m. (8:30 N.T) on CBC.
Replacing the Genie and Gemini trophies is a new statuette, a spike-shaped figure with a pair of enveloping cape-like arms. The form, says Stephenson, “symbolizes two screens with the public at the core of it all. The new Canadian Screen Awards statue celebrates Canadian talent and Canadian productions, now destined for multiple screens.”
Amalgamating Canada’s film and TV awards makes sense—certainly on the film side. The Genies have been limping along for many years, and just like English Canadian cinema, they’ve had a hard time finding an audience. Film is supposed to carry more prestige than TV, but that’s worthless if a Genie falls in the forest and no one hears. Film and TV are increasingly interlocked. And hitched to the industrial power of the broadcast biz, the film awards may gain more traction. With some synergy, hopefully, Canada’s film and TV glitterati can create an entertaining prime-time awards show we can proud of. And they couldn’t have a better energizer bunny than the virtuosic Martin Short, who was dazzling in his recent turn as host of SNL.
The anomaly, of course, is that the film awards include Quebec while the TV awards do not. But Quebec television is its own industry, with its own star system. Canadian film is a smaller world than Canadian TV—it sounds counter-intuitive, but the big screen is smaller than the small screen. Yet cinema is, at least theoretically, the more universal medium. Besides, if Canadian cinema can’t claim the likes of Villeneuve, Arcand, Falardeau and Nguyen among our auteurs, we would be pretty impoverished.
The TV nominees are too voluminous to list, but is the full slate films nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards:
By John Geddes - Monday, October 24, 2011 at 9:40 AM - 2 Comments
How was criminal law ‘genius’ David Doherty neglected again?
The selection of a new Supreme Court of Canada judge is a process so shrouded in secrecy that it’s an irresistible invitation for lawyers to speculate, gossip and argue about the best candidate. Yet after the Prime Minister announces an appointment, the legal community tends to close ranks, praise the new pick, and rarely mention those passed over. So it was this week, when Stephen Harper nominated Justice Michael Moldaver and Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, both of the Ontario Court of Appeal, to fill two Ontario vacancies on the top court.
But Don Stuart, a law professor at Queen’s University, after echoing the general consensus by admiring the nominees’ credentials, added an unusually blunt note of regret about a particular judge who didn’t get the nod—Justice David Doherty, also of the Ontario Court of Appeal. “Every person who is associated with criminal justice would know that David Doherty has written most of the leading judgements in most of the areas,” he told Maclean’s. “He’s our leading judge, really. It seems disappointing that he was not chosen.”
In fact, Doherty’s name has been on short lists of possible Supreme Court of Canada judges from Ontario going back to the 1990s, when then-prime minister Jean Chrétien was making the selections. He is far from the only eminent judge to be repeatedly passed over, but, at least on paper, he seemed an especially obvious contender this time. The two retiring judges being replaced are Justice Ian Binnie and Justice Louise Charron. Charron had been the court’s heavy lifter when it came to writing decisions on criminal law, which has lately made up about a third of its caseload.
By Andrew Coyne - Monday, May 3, 2010 at 9:58 PM - 115 Comments
I’m with the burghers of Simcoe-Grey on this: it’s up to the riding association to decide whether Helena Guergis should remain as their candidate, not party central command.
The way we choose riding nominees is one of many outstanding weaknesses in Canadian politics. On the one hand, it is unconscionable that candidates should be obliged to get the party leader to sign their nomination papers before they can stand for office. It’s a direct affront to local democracy.
On the other hand, well, local democracy is a joke. Nomination races are too often decided by busloads of instant members and other abuses, the sort of 19th century shiv-and-whiskey politics that is unique to Canada among the advanced democracies.
We’d get better candidates, and better races, if being an MP meant something — that is, if they were not so tightly controlled by the leader’s office. But the first step on cracking the leaders’ iron grip is for riding associations to stand up for themselves.
MPs with strong riding associations are better placed to challenge the leadership. In particular, a cleaner, more legitimate process for choosing candidates would give MPs the democratic standing, as legitimate representatives of the membership in their ridings, to take back the process of leadership selection — the key to righting the balance of power between caucus and leader.
In a proper Westminster system, the leader is selected by the members of the Parliamentary caucus. In our run-down, degraded version of Westminster, the leader picks the caucus.
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 9:01 AM - 8 Comments
It’s always hard to know what to say about award nominations. (If you say awards are meaningless, that’s a cliché, and if you say awards are meaningful, that’s obviously false.) But now that the Emmy nominations have been announced (like the Oscars, the Emmys have expanded the number of nominees in the biggest categories) I can make observations, and sidestep the question of whether How I Met Your Mother magically became a better show this past season just because it was nominated for the first time.
Well, I’ll start with that show, now that I’ve mentioned it. It’s good that How I Met Your Mother got the nomination. This was far from its best season — weighed down by too much Stella and two, count ‘em, two pregnancies — but an Emmy nomination validates the idea that it’s respected in the business, in effect announcing that it’s OK to go out and imitate it. And since it would be a good idea for more shows to imitate some aspects of HIMYM (the hybrid of multi-camera shooting and single-camera style, the unabashed sentimentality), the nomination is valuable as sort of a green light: this show is officially Respected now, and can be used as an example. (Even better: No nomination for Jeremy Piven. That leaves the field clear for Neil Patrick Harris to be unfairly beaten by someone else.)
That’s one thing that is valuable about awards presented by the industry, as opposed to journalists. Emmy and Oscar nominations offer an indication of what is respected in the industry, which may be a little different from what gains the respect of the critics or the audience (though there’s always lots of overlap). We can all agree, for example, that 30 Rock (22 nominations this year following up its multiple wins in previous years) has the respect of the industry like no other comedy in the world, and that Mad Men, with 16 nominations, is the most respected drama. These preferences overlap with critical preferences, though not audience preferences. But it’s more interesting to know what the people who actually make TV are interested in.
Now, it’s not an exact science, since if the nominations were arrived at by pure popular vote, the way they used to be, the list might be different. The nominating committees tend to pick shows that the Academy as a whole might not know that well. Still, to get on the list, you have to be in the top 10 of popular choices, so any show that gets nominated is obviously a favourite with the industry at large. (Update: Todd VDW says in comments that “the blue-ribbon panels have mostly been ditched.”)
The most obvious window into the mind of the TV-maker is the dominance of a certain kind of cable drama in the Emmy nominations. Broadcast network shows don’t do well; the only ones that got nominated were House and Lost. And cable dramas that are science-fiction (Battlestar Galactica) or light action-comedy (Burn Notice) don’t get much love either. The Academy members lean heavily toward “Good-Good” dramas (see below), dramas that deal with ambitious subject-matter and do things you couldn’t get away with on network TV. They are the shows that the average TV person dreams of making.
Sometimes shows are rewarded more for aspiration than achievement. The nominations of Dexter and Damages, both of which went through disappointing seasons, are like that; there are several dramas that deserved to be nominated more than those two, but they are both essentially higher-class, higher-risk versions of typical network shows (the forensics mystery and the lawyer drama) and therefore reflect the ambitions of the voters — in this case, the full Academy membership as well as the people who sit on the nominating committees. Their deepest desires are, arguably, to make the same shows they’re making now, only with less censorship and interference. It also helps if the show is somewhat high-class in terms of production values; The Shield, a deliberately gritty and cheap-looking show, doesn’t ring the Academy’s bells the way a nicer-looking show does.
With comedy, it’s a bit different. The voters and the winnowers on the Blue Ribbon Panel lean toward non-traditional comedies: of the seven nominees, there’s not a single show that is shot before a studio audience. (HIMYM adds audience reactions/laugh track after the shooting is finished.) This seems a little misguided at a time when the multi-camera sitcom is making a comeback, and after a season when The Big Bang Theory should have earned a place in at least the top 7. But it’s what the voters want to be making. But there are two different streams of Emmy preferences when it comes to comedy. One is the half-hour prestige cable show, like Weeds, Entourage or even Flight of the Conchords. The other is the network comedy that is seen as being subversive or getting away with things that My Show (whatever show the voter happens to be working on) couldn’t.
This, I think, helps to explain the industry love for Family Guy. Now apart from the point that Family Guy isn’t even the best Seth MacFarlane show — American Dad doesn’t suck, whereas FG does — it has gotten progressively more self-indulgent since Fox brought it back. But the self-indulgence may be what has made it the first animated show to be nominated for Best Comedy. It’s allowed to make political jokes, scatalogical jokes, and jokes at the expense of its own parent corporation; most of those jokes may not be very good or biting, but people on other shows dream of being allowed to make them. That’s why 30 Rock hits the sweet spot: it, too, is allowed to get away with those things, including many jokes about the corporation that owns it, and it’s also a very funny show. Oh, and it’s filmed in New York, which is a plus (self-hating Los Angelenos have a thing for shows shot in New York). It will probably win, and it will come close to deserving it — I think The Office had the best season of the seven nominees.
Oh, there was an opera singer in the ’50s named “Emmy Loose,” but I’m not entirely sure how to make that relevant to this discussion. I’ll think of something eventually.
By Jaime Weinman - Friday, June 27, 2008 at 11:59 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Schneider of Variety writes about the “finalists” for the Emmys — the 10 shows in each category that make the short-list. (This isn’t a list of nominations, it’s a list of shows that have a chance to be nominated.) A list like this is useful to let us know what shows have no chance of being nominated, and it appears that How I Met Your Mother and Battlestar Galactica have been shafted once again: they’re not on the short-list for Best Comedy and Best Drama, respectively.
The piece pays the most attention to the fact that Family Guy has a chance to become the first animated show to get a nomination for Best Comedy: it doesn’t have the nomination yet, but it did make the top-10 list of finalists. Every few years, an animated prime-time comedy tries to break out of the Best Animated Show ghetto, and it always fails; The Simpsons tried to get a Best Comedy nomination for several years before giving up (Lisa: “This is the biggest farce I’ve ever seen.” Bart: “What about the Emmys?” Lisa: “I stand corrected.”), and King of the Hill tried entering in the Best Comedy category a few years ago and got nowhere. After those failures, most animated shows don’t want to risk a certain loss by entering themselves in Best Comedy, giving up the probable nomination they’d get by entering in the cartoons-only category; Family Guy got around this by entering the series as a whole for Best Comedy and a one-hour special for the cartoon award. And it may work out for them yet. That show, I must grudgingly admit, leads a charmed life.