Canadians Win Big at Academy Awards

You might be thinking that I’m a little late to this award show afterparty, yet given that I was away last week and unable to cover this year’s Academy Awards like I usually would, I believe it is still worth taking a moment to not just belatedly discuss some of highlight of this year’s ceremony, but also to celebrate the best results for Canadians in years.

This is in spite of the fact that this year’s runaway winner, Everything Everywhere All at Once, which took home seven of its eleven nominations (it had also become the most awarded film ever, even before the Academy Awards), featured no Canadian talent whatsoever. The film took home four of the “Big Five” awards, with the infinitely creative filmmakers behind it, Daniels Scheinert and Kwan earning Best Picture (along with Jonathan Wang), Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, while Hong Kong action legend Michelle Yeoh earned Best Actress. Given that the film lacked a leading actor, it missed out on a nomination for the last of the five most prestigious awards, Best Actor (more on that in a moment), though it did also earned Oscars for the outstanding supporting performances of Ke Huy Quan (who returned from a thirty-year retirement to star in the film) and another acting legend, Jamie Lee Curtis, as well as a deserving win in the Best Film Editing category.

As mentioned, Everything Everywhere All at Once lacked a nomination in the Best Actor category given that its primary male character, Ke Huy Quan’s ever loveable Waymond, was still in a supporting role. However, Quan’s old castmate from the 1992 film Encino Man, Brendan Fraser, who made a dramatic comeback of his own in recent years which has been dubbed the “Brenaissance” (the successor of Matthew McConaughey’s “McConaissance”, if you will), took home the coveted Best Actor award for his performance in Darren Oronofsky’s The Whale. While seemingly the whole world rejoiced at one of the industry’s most likeable personalities bringing his comeback journey full circle (and he is also set to appear in Scorsese’s next film, Killers of the Flower Moon), Canadians were particularly ecstatic with his win, as Fraser holds dual citizenship as he was born in the United States to Canadian parents, and even spent parts of his formative years in Ottawa and Toronto.

Fraser was not the only Canadian to win in one of the major categories either, as the supremely talented Sarah Polley finally landed an Oscar, in this case for Best Adapted Screenplay for Women Talking, which she also directed.

In addition to Polley, Toronto filmmaker Daniel Rohr earned the Academy Away for Best Documentary Feature for directing the acclaimed Navalny, alongside its producers and fellow Canadians Shane Boris and Odessa Rae (the latter of whom, oddly, has received little recognition as a co-winner in Canadian media). The film was also competing against Fire of Love, an independent documentary film that also saw had two Canadian nominees, Montreal producer Ina Fichman and, once again, Shane Boris, who received two nominations in this category.

The final Canadian winner, then, was another Montreal native, Adrien Morot, who earned Best Makeup and Hairstyling for his impressive work on The Whale, alongside Brendan Fraser. 

Congratulations not only to Canadians who took statues home at this year’s Academy Awards, but also to those who were honoured with a nomination, such as Domee Shi for her work on her animated feature-length debut, the Toronto-set Turning Red; Chris Williams was also nominated in the Best Animated Feature category for The Sea Beast; and Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby in the Best Animated Short Film for their work on The Flying Sailor.

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