Canadians & the Oscars® 2020
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(January 13, 2020 – Toronto, ON) In less than a month the 92nd annual Academy Awards will play out in Hollywood, the tiny town that grew up to be the Movie Capital of the World. Canadians were part of the founding and growth of Hollywood and of the founding and growth of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Some years have been kinder to Canadians than others and we’ll have to wait until February 9th to find out how 2020 treats Canadian nominees. They are, in no particular order:
Animator Dean DeBlois has been nominated for his 3rd (and last?) film in the How To Train Your Dragon series. As the Academy described the film in their release, “Hiccup and Toothless have settled into their lives as leaders of a chaotic dragon utopia, but when the fearsome Night Fury dragon suddenly appears and their village is threatened, the two must journey into the unknown to save their world.” Nominated in the Best Animated feature category, it’s up against I Lost My Body, Klaus, Missing Link and Toy Story 4, which I thought was the weakest of the films in that series. DeBlois was also nominated for 2011’s How to Train Your Dragon and the 2015 sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2. Third time lucky? By now I think everyone knows Jay Baruchel provides the voice of Hiccup. Also of note, there is a Canadian link to Missing Link in the form of Vancouver’s Trevor Dalmer who served as art director on the film.
In the feature film categories, I haven’t seen 1917 yet. My grandfather was killed in the War to End All Wars and I want to see it. The Canadian connection to this film goes to previous Oscar® nominee and winner Dennis Gassner for best production design on the epic 120-minute war film. He won in 1992 for his work on Bugsy, and was nominated in 2018 for his work on Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. Other films up for this award include The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Once upon a Time…in Hollywood and Parasite. The Vancouver-born Gassner shares the nomination for 1917 with set decorator Lee Sandales.
Staying with feature films, British-born former Toronto resident Paul Massey has picked up his 9th nomination for Sound Mixing on the often very loud feature Ford v Ferrari. Part of a team, his co-nominees include Americans David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow. Massey won the Oscar® last year for mixing Bohemian Rhapsody. Ford v Ferrari, which tells the story of American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) is up against 1917, Ad Astra, Joker and Once upon a Time…in Hollywood.
Moving to short films, Canadian filmmaker Sami Khan has been nominated as co-director with Smriti Mundhra on St. Louis Superman. The documentary short profiles Bruce Franks, Jr. who went from activist to state lawmaker for Missouri. If you think shorts aren’t that important or that competitive, the film is now one of five finalists that were selected for consideration out of 96 eligible films. There should be an award for surviving the cut. I guess it’s called a Nomination.
Last but not least, Montreal-based, American-Tunisian filmmaker Meryam Joobeur has been nominated for her live action short Brotherhood, a Tunisia-Canada-Qatar-Sweden co-production, Brotherhood premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Canadian Short Film. It tells the tale of a Tunisian shepherd who faces a dilemma when his estranged eldest son returns home from Syria with a mysterious young wife. Joobeur directed her first film, also a documentary short, Gods, Weeds and Revolutions in 2012. Brotherhood is just her fourth film. It should not be confused with the 2016 film of the same name.
Canada did not make the cut for the Best International Feature Film category. Nominees are Corpus Christi (Poland), Honeyland (Macedonia) Les Misérables (France), Pain and Glory (Spain) and Parasite (South Korea). Parasite has also been nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year.