Well, that was a refreshingly brisk, slap-free affair. On Sunday night, the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television broadcast its 10th annual Canadian Screen Awards – a mostly prerecorded celebration honouring the best in homegrown film, television and digital media. Loaded with clips from the nominated work and celebrity guests, and pre-engineered to avoid any Oscar-like moments of infamy, the telecast, which aired on CBC and streamed on CBC Gem, was short, sweet and extraordinarily Canadian in its earnestness.
Scarborough’s world: If there is a more heartening and inspiring Canadian film success story than the production of Scarborough, I would love to hear it. Produced under Telefilm’s micro-budget Talent to Watch program with a shooting schedule interrupted by the pandemic, co-directors Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson’s adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s novel pole-vaulted over every challenge that the industry could have dealt it, ultimately coming out on top with a wonderfully tender, beautiful drama that nearly swept the 11 categories for which it was nominated. Scarborough’s final CSA tally: eight awards, including Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay for Hernandez, Best Actor for the young Liam Diaz, the John Dunning Best First Feature Film Award and Best Motion Picture.
In and out: The one definitive benefit of having a largely prerecorded awards show: you can ruthlessly edit the thing down beforehand. Sunday night’s telecast was just one hour long – though it helps that the Canadian Academy spent the week before awarding most of its 145 categories in five separate virtual ceremonies, saving the marquee nominees (Best Picture, Best Comedy Series, Best Drama Series, etc.) for Sunday. This year’s approach meant that there was no real sense of spontaneity – save for super-brief live-Zoom’d acceptance speeches, when winners elected to even tune in live. The move meant that the audiences, perhaps already exhausted at the tail end of awards season, could tune in and out with enough time before bed to watch the series finale of The Dropout. Um, I mean, their favourite Canadian TV series, of course!
Double threat: I’ll admit it: one major goof in compiling my recent “22 Most Influential People in Canadian Film” Globe and Mail feature was omitting the indomitable Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. The actress/filmmaker came out of Sunday’s show with two high-profile wins (Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders and the Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary for her film Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy) that speak to the artist’s range, passion and, well, influence.
Closing sale: With Schitt’s Creek having since dried up, it was up to Kim’s Convenience to bring in the blockbuster-sitcom demographic to the CSAs this go-round. And I would like to think/hope that the series’ two major acting wins on Sunday (Best Lead Actor for Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Best Lead Actress for Jean Yoon) helped usher the groundbreaking comedy out on a high note … and wash away the bad taste that fans have felt ever since they discovered the show was ending rather abruptly.
It looks like you’re trying to include great clips – would you like help?: Yes, it was appreciated that the evening was filled to the brim with footage of the nominated work, given that (as the Canadian Academy readily acknowledges) many audiences aren’t familiar with these films and series in the slightest. But next time around, there needs to be serious discipline when it comes to just which clips are selected. Were the clips from Family Feud Canada and The Great Canadian Baking Show meant to highlight the shows’ comedy? And some of the footage from alleged dramas (Coroner, Family Law) were unintentionally chuckle-worthy.
Too-tall order: Perhaps the age of the awards show host is indeed over, but there was still a sense that a virtual experiment like this year’s CSAs could have benefited from one singular voice anchoring the production. Instead, there was a whiplash-inducing number of celebrity presenters (I could barely register Andrew Phung’s shtick before it was on to a poorly framed Domee Shi). Technically, the sketch-comedy group TallBoyz were the evening’s “featured presenters” (i.e. sorta-hosts), but their bits were too infrequent and dull-edged (despite the efforts of a literally phoning-it-in Simu Liu) to ground audiences.
Selection of 2022 Canadian Screen Award Winners
Best Lead Actor (Comedy): Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience
Best Lead Actress (Comedy): Jean Yoon, Kim’s Convenience
Best Comedy Series: Sort Of
Best Lead Actress (Drama): Laurence Leboeuf, Transplant
Best Lead Actor (Drama): Hamza Haq, Transplant
Best Drama Series: Transplant
Cogeco Fund Audience Choice Award: Wynonna Earp
Best Host or Presenter, Factual or Reality/Competition: Canada’s Drag Race
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Cole
Gordon Sinclair Award for Broadcast Journalism: Rassi Nashalik
Changemaker Award: Kayla Grey, Kathleen Newman-Bremang, Amanda Parris
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Liam Diaz, Scarborough
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Night Raiders
Ted Rogers Best Feature Length Documentary: Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy
Achievement in Direction: Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson, Scarborough
Best Motion Picture: Scarborough
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