The day has finally arrived where the cinematic awards event of the season, the Academy Awards, announces its list of nominees from 2023, and much like any other year it’s a mixture of what we had expected, sprinkled with the usual amount of snubs and surprises. What is not a guarantee each year, however, is the nomination of a Canadian, despite the vast array of talent in the field. Thankfully, this year has recognised the significant work of a number of supremely talented and deserving Canadians, most of whom have a legitimate chance to come away with that coveted golden statue.
Ryan Gosling is surely the person at the forefront of Canadians’ minds, considering he is arguably the nation’s best chance at earning an award this year for Best Supporting Actor. Nominated for his standout performance as Ken in the cultural phenomenon that is Barbie, Gosling was always a lock for the category, and barring any surprises the race comes to down to him, and Robert Downey Jr. for his impressive and uncharacteristically understated performance in Oppenheimer, which has more nominations than any other movie with thirteen.
Speaking of surprises, Barbie had perhaps the most unexpected nomination of the day with America Ferrera’s Best Supporting Actress nod, while Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig failed to land nominations for Best Actress and Best Director respectively, with the latter being particularly egregious given that Best Director is a consistently male-dominated category (only one woman has ever won the award), not to mention Gerwig’s last three directorial efforts, Ladybird, Little Women, and now Barbie, have all earned Best Picture nods, but none for Best Director. As a consolation for Robbie, though, she still earned a nomination for Best Picture, having also served as a producer on Barbie.
Another notable nominee in the extensive Best Picture category is Past Lives, which is admittedly an American production, but it was written and directed by South Korean-Canadian filmmaker Celine Song, who has been snubbed for Best Director (yet another woman overlooked), but she has at least been nominated for Best Original Screenplay and is in with a good chance to win. An incredible feat for Song’s feature film debut.
Perhaps this year’s most surprising first-time nominee is the late Robbie Robertson, a former member of the Canadian folk rock group The Band, for Best Original Score. A longtime collaborator with Martin Scorsese since they made the 1978’ The Last Waltz, which is considered one of the greatest concert movies of all time. Since then, Robertson has composed several scores for Scorsese features (a director known for his emphasis on the music in his films), including The King of Comedy, The Colour of Money, and The Irishman, in addition to serving as a music consultant on numerous other productions, yet Killers of the Flower Moon is the somehow the first and only Oscar nomination the celebrated musician and composer will ever receive, as Robertson died last August at he age of eighty.
Canadians landed a number of nominations in other categories too, none of whom will be competing against one another this year.
Indian-Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja has earned a significant nod in the Best Documentary Feature category for her acclaimed feature To Kill a Tiger, though truth be told, this category is 20 Day in Mariupol’s to lose.
Another Canadian, Pen Proudfoot, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short Film for co-directing The Last Repair Shop alongside American pianist, composer, and fellow documentarian Kris Bowers. This is Proudfoot’s second nomination in the category, having previously won for 2021’s The Queen of Basketball.
The final Canadian nominees are director Vincent René-Lortie and producer Samuel Caron, who are nominated in the Best Live Action Short Film category for their French-language production Invincible. While the pair’s work is certainly deserving of the nomination, and there is always a chance that they could eke out a win, this Oscar will in all likelihood go to Wes Anderson for The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. The short is an outstanding achievement of filmmaking in and of itself, but it’s a near lock when you consider that Academy voters can be suckers for multi-nominated darlings without a win, and Anderson ticks both boxes.
The Academy Awards is set to air on March 10th, and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. Here’s hoping for a slapless ceremony this year!