Since I’m in Toronto anyway and a whore for free food and drink, I will be backstage from the antithesis of a star-studded film awards ceremony: The 30th Annual Genie Awards, honouring the alleged best of Canadian film. I say alleged because, well, they don’t. When the nominations came out a month ago, I bitched here about how generally embarrassing they were, most notable for completely snubbing Xavier Dolan’s “I Killed My Mother” from competitive categories (a sensation at Cannes, the film just won the Jutra for best Québécois film of the year, represented Canada in the Oscar’s best foreign-film category, and its reported the producers spent $4,000 to get it nominated ffor the Genies’ best film, best director, best actor and best actress categories… all of which it’s hard to say it didn’t deserve). No best screenplay, no acting or directing nod for Dolan, and worst of all: no best actress nomination for Anne Dorval, who gave a powerhouse performance if there ever was one. Somehow “Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day” received acting nominations, but Dorval and Dolan did not. C’est ridiculement embarrassant!
These ideas were seconded with much more journalistic integrity a few days ago in this story in The Globe and Mail. It begins:
With the 30th annual Genie Awards coming Monday, the Canadian movie industry will try to ignore for one celebratory night the chronic problems plaguing homegrown film. With just $26-million, or 3 per cent, of the billion-dollar-plus Canadian box office in 2009, according to the Motion Picture Theatre Associations of Canada, Canadian films need all the help they can get.
Why, then, do this year’s Genie nominations not reflect some of last year’s most critically acclaimed and popular Canadian films?
It’s an issue that confounds commonsense and has raised questions from some film distributors and producers about a nomination process where a handful of people determine which films will be in contention. The most flagrant omission this year was J’ai tué ma mère, the debut film from 21-year-old Montreal wunderkind Xavier Dolan, whose exclusion from the competitive categories lead the film’s French distributor, Louis Dussault to call the Genies “totally irrelevant.”
Read the whole story here
Anyway, so all that aside, I’m here, and I’d guess it’s safe to assume that Xavier Dolan (who did receive an honorary award for being a first time filmmaker) is not. Being held at Toronto’s lakefront Kool Haus (normally a mid-level concert venue and a bizarre choice for something of this stature… the last time I was here I was watching Girl Talk perform), I’m honestly finding it pretty fascinating in this “really, Canada?” kinda way (I love my country for a thousand reasons, but their ability to hold awards shows is most definitely not one of them).
And to do my job a bit, if you are among the 16 people curious, below will be an updated list of all the winners. I even have a camera to take celebrity shots of the likes of that guy who played Ben from Felicity and Atom Egoyan’s wife:
6:18pm: Show starts, 18 minutes late. People I don’t know tell me we will be looking back at “Genie Award winners from the past.” Cue the clips from “Porky’s”!
6:22pm: First winner, presented by a “Gemini Award winning Trailer Park Boy”: Best Original Screenplay: Jacques Davidts, Polytechnique. Davidts is not present.
6:25pm: Another one, also presented by Trailer Park Boy: Best Art DIrector: Eve Stewart, Fifty Dead Men Walking Stewart also doesn’t bother to show up.
6:28pm: And another, and they are there (!): Best Costume Design: Atuat Akittirq, Before Tomorrow
6:30pm: That’s right, everyone, you know you’ve been waiting. The best overall achievement in makeup for a 2009 Canadian release? Djina Caron and Martin Rivest, Polytechnique
6:34pm: Sweep of both sound award categories! Presenting, Canada’s “Hurt Locker”: Polytechnique (which has now won 4 awards)
6:37pm: Best Short Documentary: The Delian Mode, by Kara Blake and Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre (Saint-Pierre beat out herself, fyi).
6:39pm: Best Live Action Short: Danse Macabre, by Pedro Pires and Catherine Chagnon.
6:41pm: While in the bathroom, I missed who won best animated short. An award Canadians often win at the Oscars, just to attempt to play nice in the midst of all this Canadian belittling.
6:42pm: Polytech-sweep! Best Editing: Richard Comeau, Polytechnique
6:44pm: The press room has no questions for best sound mixing winners. Notta one.
6:45pm: Best Cinematography: Pierre Gill, Polytechnique. And I’m running out of anything clever to say, if there ever have been any to begin with.
6:47pm: Shockingly, press room has a lone question for best sound EDITING winners.
6:48pm: “Polytechique” can suck it when it comes to best original score. A movie I’ve genuinely never heard of, The Master Key, wins.
6:50pm: Best original song of the Canadian year? That’s right. You’ve heard it on your radios, now it’s a big Genie winner: “Oh Love” from “Nurse Fighter Boy”
6:51pm: They are presenting Xavier Dolan’s honorary award. “seriously, he was really gonna come, but he’s busy.” says producer (in general, not of the film – he admits he has no connection to it) Kevin Tierney, hilariously accepting the award for him.
6:53pm: Mel Hoppenheim – who, random uninteresting fact: film school at my alma matter is named after – is accepting the other honorary award.
6:54pm: Little update, if you wanna know: Best Animated Short’s winner has trickled into press room, and it’s Runaway, by Derek Mazur, Cordell Barker and Michael Scott of “The Office” fame.
6:56pm: To let you all know how much people care about what is happening at the Genies, this blog’s traffic has been lower in the past hour than it was all day, when I had posted nothing.
7:01pm: Omg clip reel of previous Genies including what has to be the cheesiest dance number ever performed. And for some reason, Jessica Lange once attended a ceremony. #1 reason to watch the webcast later.
7:03pm: Scott Speedman – by far the only semi sorta famous presenter thus far – announces the winner of best adapted screenplay, which could only find three nominees due to lack of other options. The winner: Kari Skogland, Fifty Dead Men Walking
7:07pm: Presenting, Canada’s Mo’Nique. Our best supporting actress of 2009: Martha Burns for “Love and Savagery” That’s right: Ma’Burns.
7:15pm: Some much needed controversy and fun backstage. Kevin Tierney comes back after accepting the award for Xavier Dolan. Some choice quotes (I love this man):
“When I heard there was this scandal, I saw an opportunity to pursue my desperate quest for infamy.”
“Between you and me, this was an aberration. To be ignored and shut out in all the other categories… It’s an aberration.”
“Anne Dorval gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in Canadian history.”
“I think- to be perfectly frank – that [Dolan] was very ambigious because this award… The fact that he only got this award was sort of like – my reading was – like being sent to the kiddy table. I mean, seriously… There’s something quite preposterous about it.”
“I am on the board. I’ve been on these juries… I know what happens. So let’s call it a draw and say it’s an aberration.”
“Lets also remember what happened at TIFF. They did not give this the best first film or the best canadian film award. Uh, hello…”
“You can’t make a perfect jury. Look at the Oscars. They had to expand to ten to include five other shitty movies.”
7:19pm: Golden Reel Award: Fathers and Guns (I’m not quite sure what this award is meant to represent I was too busy watching the florescent lights above me).
7:25pm: A Hard Name wins best feature length documentary.
7:30pm: Potential celebrity on stage again alert: Scott Speedman among nominees of about to be announced best supporting actor nominees. Or will he lose to “Trailer Park Boys”‘s John Dunsworth!?!?
7:31pm: Nope, neither. It’s Maxim Gaudette for “Polytechnique”
7:32pm: I’m informed: Golden Reel Award means “the film made some money.”
7:35pm: Joshua Jackson is presenting the 2009 best director of the year award, and is thus Canada’s Barbra Streisand.
7:41pm: Unsurprisingly Denis Villeneuve (who lost to Xavier Dolan at Cannes), wins best director for “Polytechnique” and is thus Canada’s Kathryn Bigelow.
7:43pm: The big three categories remain. I know all of you still care. First off: Who stole Anne Dorval’s award? Karine Vabasse, Polytechnique, or how we will now refer to as: the Quebecois Sandra Bullock. Who is the Quebecois Bombshell McGee? We will find out soon enough on the cover of Quebec Us Weekly.
7:52pm: Joshua Jackson just won best actor of the year for “One Week.” Diane Kruger looks bored in audience. “I can’t believe I won something,” a sincere, modest and nervous Jackson says.
7:58pm: Pacey backstage, when someone suggested he could win an Emmy for “Fringe”: “Canadian humility aside, I don’t think you’re ever gonna find me up on that stage.”
8:02pm: Canadian press idiot to Joshua Jackson: “Michelle Williams lost an Oscar for “bBokeback Mountain” but you won this. Are you gonna call and brag?” Jackson: “I appreciate the sentiment but that’s definitely not the next call I’m going to make.”
8:05pm: The Canadian Best Picture of the Year: POLYTECHNIQUE.
8:06pm: And, scene. You want more? The whole ceremony is being delayed tape webcast at cbc.ca starting at 9pm EST. I dare you to waste two hours of your life, as I just have.