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'Café de Flore,' 'Dangerous Method' dominate Genies

Evelyne Brochu in a scene from Cafe de Flore

A fantastical love story and the tale of how Jung met Freud led the pack as the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced the nominations for the 32nd Genie Awards in Toronto and Montreal Tuesday.

Director Jean-Marc Vallée's Café de Flore, a love story split between 1960s Paris and contemporary Montreal, received 13 nominations while David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method, about the birth of psychoanalysis, received 11.

Both films are nominated for best picture and best direction, while the award-winning Monsieur Lazhar, Canada's official entry for the foreign-language Oscar, was also nominated for best picture and best direction

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The other nominees for best picture are The Whistleblower, a thriller about a peacekeeper in Bosnia, and the crowd-pleaser Starbuck, about a sperm donor who sires 533 children, while Whistleblower director Larysa Kondracki and Steven Silver, director of The Bang Bang Club, were also nominated for their direction.

"It was a terrific year; it augurs well for the future," Helga Stephenson, the academy's interim CEO, said in an interview, arguing Canadian film increasingly draws international investment and international audiences.

The acting categories are studded with international stars.

Notables include Michael Fassbender, Michelle Williams, Viggo Mortensen, Vanessa Paradis and Rachel Weisz.

Fassbender is in the best actor race for his turn as Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method. Rivals include Garret Dillahunt, who plays a disillusioned war vet in Oliver Sherman; Scott Speedman, as the notorious Canadian bank robber in Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster; Montreal's Patrick Huard, who plays a frequent sperm donor in Starbuck; and Algeria's standup comic Fellag, who stars as a sensitive school teacher in Monsieur Lazhar.

Mortensen is nominated for best supporting actor for his take on Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method. He's up against Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch, who plays a troubled photojournalist in The Bang Bang Club; Antoine Bertrand from Starbuck; Kevin Durand of Edwin Boyd: Citizen Gangster and the young Marin Gerrier, who charms as a jazz-obsessed Parisian boy in Cafe de Flore.

Meanwhile, the best actress race pits Paradis, who stars as a devoted mother in Café de Flore, against Weisz, who plays a crusading peacekeeper in The Whistleblower and Williams, as a young wife with a wandering eye in Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz.

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Catherine de Léan of Nuit #1 and Pascale Montpetit from The Girl in the White Coat round out the nominees.

Notably absent is Keira Knightley of A Dangerous Method, who failed to score an acting nod like her two male co-stars for a risky performance that critics have singled out – for good or for bad – for its intensity.

Also missing from the nominees is writer/director Polley, whose sophomore feature Take This Waltz scored just two nods overall (including best makeup). Polley's first feature, Away From Her, dominated the Genies in 2008 when it took seven of the top prizes. Polley also scored an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay.

The awards will be broadcast on March 8 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC.

With files from Canadian Press

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