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Controversy and The Canadian Screen Awards

The Oscars are over but don't return your tuxes yet, because next up is...The Canadian Screen Awards.

Hip, hip...huh.

Canada desperately wants its equivalent of the Oscars/Emmies even as -- particularly with films -- in most cases the audience hasn't even heard of the films nominated. But awards shows are part of how you publicize productions. That's why the Oscars often seem more concerned about the ratings than the actual awards.

This year TV and film are being combined into one ceremony: The Canadian Screen Awards on March 3. Yet what tends to be missing is controversy. I don't mean "wardrobe malfunctions" or debates about misogynist hosts. I mean Canadian entertainment reporters rarely seem to have any opinion.

For the Oscars, critics grumble about something being nominated for Best Picture...but not Best Director. Yet is there similar muttering about Still Mine, which is nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, Actor, Actress...but not director?

David Morse received a Best Actor nomination for the movie Collaborator -- a movie otherwise not much in evidence in other categories. But is that because it just narrowly missed other nominations (it boasts a 75% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes) or did Morse get nominated because the academy felt they needed more American actors on the bill?

It's easier to weigh in on the TV categories (since more people have seen the programs nominated). So I'll just randomly skim through a few...

The Best Drama Series category has Arctic Air, Bomb Girls, Continuum, Flashpoint, and King. It's an encouraging sign that they could've added a few other worthy efforts and still not be padding. The bland sci-fi drama Continuum leaves me underwhelmed, but I suspect its inclusion was so the academy could seem "hip". The award will probably go to either Bomb Girls or Flashpoint. Of the two I'd give the nod to Bomb Girls (as much as I like Flashpoint). But I'd love to see the cancelled King walk away with it. I just felt King was an exceptionally well done crime-drama and were it to win, it might suggest voters were actually voting for merit, not for hype.

There are only four nominees in the Best TV Movie/Mini-Series category, including a JK Rowling bio-pic -- yet the best isn't even nominated! I'm talking about the gripping political drama, John A.: Birth of a Country. I'd call it Canada's answer to Lincoln, except apparently people dozed during Lincoln, and I doubt anyone dozed during John A. My guess is the award will go to either Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, or Wrath of Grapes -- though Cyberbully might be politic just because it's set in the States starring an American actress and many people in the industry make their living doing those sorts of films.

I question combing acting in sketch comedies and comic series into one category -- it's a completely different shtick. Bob Martin should win for his funny and nuanced performance in Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays -- but he probably won't.

I was pleasantly surprised to see American actor Andra Fuller receive a Best Actor in a Drama nomination for L.A. Complex. I don't really have any strong issues with the other nominees...even as a lot of notables were left off. British nominee Luke Mably was fine in Combat Hospital...but I would've liked to see his co-star Terry Chen there instead. And what? No Yannick Bisson? I don't know if Bisson is a "great" actor...but he's arguably a big component of the glue that has made The Murdoch Mysteries the Little-Show-That-Could. What about Kristen Holden-Ried as the taciturn wolfman in The Lost Girl, or either of Being Human's American actors (I'd probably give the slot to Sam Witwer)? Who will win? Probably Flashpoint's Enrico Colantoni or Combat Hospital's Elias Koteas. Who should win? I'll give the nod to Fuller.

It's odd Arctic Air received no acting kudos. Star Adam Beach strikes a sympathetic balance between compassionate hero...and vulnerable everyman.

Best Actress? I just don't see Haven's American star, Emily Rose, in this category -- personable but not "great" (though nominations are for specific episodes). If we're just going for "nominate just to say we did" I'd suggest The Lost Girl's Anna Silk could've been on the list instead -- given she is the star of a cult series that has proven itself. I have no problem with Bomb Girls' Meg Tilly getting a nod, but I'd suggest her co-star, Jodi Balfour, equally deserved a place on the ballot. Others missing from the nominations: what about Carmen Moore in Blackstone, or Meaghan Rath in Being Human? Who will win? Probably Tilly or Being Erica's Erin Karpluk. Who should win? Like I'm going to say anyone other than King's riveting Amy Price-Francis.

Further random-osities?

Ksenia Solo is nominated for Supporting Actress for The Lost Girl...and she's a scene stealer. American actress Joanna Cassidy was hilarious guest starring in Call Me Fitz and I'd have no problem with her ascending the stage.

Shawn Doyle should receive Best Actor for John A -- but I suspect it'll go to Jared Keeso or Donal Logue. Tim Rozon received a nomination for the relatively obscure TV movie Befriend & Betray -- but I'd argue Bryon Mann was the scene stealer in that. Only three actresses in their category -- and two were non-Canadians! Jill Hennessy deserves it for Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

I'm also not sure I like that male and female "guest stars" are lumped into a single category of five measly nominations. Flashpoint could probably have filled up this category just on its own! I would've liked to see Byron Mann (him again!) nominated for an Arctic Air episode, and maybe Peter Keleghan and Michelle Nolden for Saving Hope (though maybe she would be in a recurring actress category).

And given my unhealthy obsession with King, I'd suggest it could've warranted more nods in terms of writing, directing, and acting -- including co-stars Alan Van Sprang and Rossif Sutherland.

So there ya go: a little controversy. Maybe if Canadian entertainment reporters wrote up bitchy pieces like this about the Canadian awards it might actually make people a little more interested in the outcome.

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