The cancelled show’s creator has spoken, the heartbroken fans had their say, the hard-boiled networks made their decision. And now the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, in charge of the Canadian Screen Awards, has weighed in: Anne with an E, any way you spell it, was a critical success.
Although shut down last year after its third season, the Netflix-CBC drama based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables gathered the second-most 2020 nominations behind Schitt’s Creek’s 26 nods and ahead of the 14 handed to the CTV crime drama Cardinal. The nominations for the annual awards (which recognize achievements in film, television and digital media) were announced Tuesday morning.
CBC juggernaut and Best Comedy Series contender Schitt’s Creek is in the middle of its final season. But unlike the cancelled Anne with an E, the producers of the small-town sitcom have voluntarily retired the series after a six-season run that has already resulted in 18 previous Canadian Screen Awards, not to mention four Primetime Emmy nominations, a U.S. syndication deal that kicks in this fall and countless comparisons to Green Acres.
The awards are to be presented in Toronto over five days during Canadian Screen Week next month. The gala finale airs on CBC on Sunday, March 29, a day undoubtedly checked off on the Levy family’s fridge calendar. Schitt’s Creek was co-created by Daniel Levy (up for awards in acting, direction and writing) and his father Eugene Levy (nominated in the lead actor category). The elder Levy’s daughter Sarah Levy plays a waitress in the series. She earned a supporting-actress nomination this year, while Fred Levy, brother to Eugene, is one of the show’s extensive team of executive producers.
Of note: Schitt’s Creek scriptwriters flooded the field in the comedy writing category, securing all but one of the five nominations. (The outliers are Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney of Letterkenney, also a podunk-set sitcom.)
Anne with an E was a victim of CBC’s falling out with series co-producer Netflix. Social-media campaigns have been waged and public billboards have been engaged to keep the pigtailed protagonist going, but to no avail. “There is just no way to revive" it, show creator Moira Walley-Beckett has said on Instagram.
On the film side of the Canadian Screen Awards, The Twentieth Century, Matthew Rankin’s curious biopic on former Canadian prime minister Mackenzie King, earned eight nominations, including best motion picture and achievement in direction. The film competes in those two major categories with Antigone, a Montreal-set adaptation of the Sophocles’ play of the same name by Québécois writer/director/cinematographer Sophie Deraspe. Judged the Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, Antigone is in the running for seven Canadian Screen Awards.
The other best motion picture contenders are White Lie, the latest feature from Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis; The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, a collaboration between Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn; and Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft.
The directors of the best picture nominees are all contenders for the achievement in direction prize.
The most film nominations, with nine, went to The Song of Names, François Girard’s sweeping historical drama about a vanished violin prodigy orphaned in the Holocaust.
Competing with Cardinal and Anne with an E in the top television drama category are CBC’s Coroner, History’s Vikings and Global’s Mary Kills People. Up against Schitt’s Creek in the comedy division are CBC’s Kim’s Convenience, Crave’s Letterkenny, CBC’s Workin’ Moms and CTV’s Jann Arden vehicle Jann.
Editor’s note: (Feb. 18, 2020) An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Antigone was nominated for best international feature at the 2020 Academy Awards. This version has been updated.