The most touching moment of the second annual Canadian Screen Awards Sunday was surely that when Gabrielle Marion-Rivard accepted the prize for best actress for her role in Gabrielle. A joyful and grinning Marion-Rivard, a woman with Williams syndrome taking on her first professional role, carefully placed the statuette on the floor and delivered a few well-chosen thank-yous in French before announcing “I love you, Canada.”
The film, a French-language drama about a music prodigy with a developmental disability, also won best picture but it was Enemy, an English-language thriller by Quebec director Denis Villeneuve, that actually swept the prizes televised by CBC.
Villeneuve’s psychological thriller about a man who spots his doppelganger in a movie and then pursues him won the much lauded Quebecker the award for best director and got Sarah Gadon the prize for best supporting actress. It also picked up three other prizes offscreen. The film’s cinematographer, Nicolas Bolduc, and its editor, Matthew Hannam, won their categories while Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans won for best score.
The dark and foul-mouthed cable comedy Call Me Fitz was the bigger winner of the night on the television side of the awards, a merger of the Genies and Geminis that is now in its second year. The show was named best comedy while Jason Priestley won best comic actor for his work as the unrepentant title character and his co-star Tracy Dawson won best comic actress. He smoothly thanked colleagues and family while she, in one of the evening’s lighter moments, slapped her forehead in an unsuccessful attempt to recall what she wanted to say.
Otherwise, the comedy was provided by host Martin Short, who opened with jokes about Toronto’s cold (CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos “lost several vowels to frostbite”) as well as predictable jabs at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
The most weighty event of the evening was the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to David Cronenberg: actor Viggo Mortensen (who played Sigmund Freud in Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method) celebrated the director’s unusual aesthetic and lamented that he had never won an Oscar.
Another prominent figure during the telecast was Tatiana Maslany, the rising star who plays multiple roles on Orphan Black, the drama about a woman and her many clones. She won best actress in a television drama while the much-nominated sci-fi series was also named best drama. Off-camera, Hugh Dillon of Flashpoint won for best dramatic actor in the TV categories, although the CTV cop show has now retired.
The best acting prizes for a single program or miniseries went to Rick Roberts and Sook-Yin Lee, co-stars of the CBC’s Jack Layton bio, Jack, while Dragon’s Den was named the best reality series. Singer Michael Bublé was named best host for his work at the 2013 Junos while Lisa Laflamme of the CTV National News was named best anchor.
On the film side, Best actor went to Gabriel Arcand for Le Démantèlement (The Auction) while Gordon Pinsent won best supporting actor for his role in The Grand Seduction.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, a fantasy adventure drama set in an alternative New York, swept the technical categories, winning for makeup, sound, sound editing and visual effects. Louis Cyr, l’homme le plus fort du monde (Louis Cyr: The Strongest Man in the World) won best art director for Michel Proulx and best costume design for Carmen Alie. The Jennifer Baichwal/Edward Burtynsky film Watermark won best documentary while Anne Wheeler’s Chi, about an actress fighting cancer, won best short doc.
Jimmy Harry and Serena Ryder won best song for It’s No Mistake from the romantic comedy The Right Kind of Wrong. Elan Mastai was awarded best adapted screenplay for The F-Word while Shannon Masters won best original screenplay for Empire of Dirt.
The live telecast and the off-camera film and TV awards capped a week-long industry event where more than 100 other prizes were given out including the remaining television awards in categories such as children’s, news, sports and variety, and the awards for digital media. In the digital categories, Katie Boland won best performance for her personal webisodes Long Story Short; Space Janitors was named the best Web series; and CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions was best non-fiction Web series.