Sleeping with the “Enemy”; Denis Villeneuve Heavy Fave for 2014 Canadian Screen Awards

Enemy

With the dust fully settled on the Academy Awards, we point our attention northward with tonight’s 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. Many of the television winners have already been announced in glitzy fashion during this Canadian Screen Week, but with baited breath, we’re more keen on seeing how the film award honors will pan out. Last year’s TIFF saw Denis Villeneuve bring not one (Prisoners), but a pair of feature films and it is the offbeat, doppelgänger delight Enemy that should reap in the top awards of the evening. Here are my predictions of who will win, who should win, and who should have been nominated in each of the most anticipated film categories.

Best Motion Picture:
The nominees are: Enemy, The Dismantlement, Empire of Dirt, The F Word, Gabrielle, The Grand Seduction, Maina, Tom at the Farm

Screenie voters tend to favor Canada’s yearly submission for the Foreign Film category at the Oscars. In previous years, the winners of this category have been Rebelle (War Witch), Monsieur Lazhar and Incendies, so it can be assumed that sentimental favorite Gabrielle would follow suit. However, with its director Louise Archambault not being nominated, it would need to pull off an Argo-like upset to win. Xavier Dolan’s Hitchcockian Tom at the Farm is a worthy contender, yet his lack of a nomination in the leading actor category may be the Academy’s way of stating that they respect his work, yet aren’t willing to embrace him fully just yet. The literary adaptation Enemy was met with mixed reactions during its festival and Canada’s Top Ten run, yet its leading number of nominations shows that it captured a lot of love in the Academy. Look for it to win a number of the top awards, including best motion picture.

Should have been nominated:
Rhymes for Young Ghouls or The Dirties or Vic + Flo ont vu un ours or Le météore
Should win: Gabrielle
Will win: Enemy

Achievement in Direction:
The nominees are: Xavier Dolan (Tom at the Farm), Michael Dowse (The F Word), Robert Lepage and Pedro Pires (Triptych), Sebastien Pilote (The Dismantlement), Denis Villeneuve (Enemy)

It can be argued that Dolan, Dowse and Villeneuve’s directorial efforts were far stronger in their their most recent works (Laurence Anyways, Goon, and Prisoners, respectively). Triptych and The Dismantlement were ably shot, but like the aforementioned three contenders, not the strongest efforts in Canadian cinema. Noticeably absent in this category were the more deserving directors Louise Archambault (Gabrielle), Matt Johnson (The Dirties), and Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls). Each brought a distinct voice to their captivating films and it is shocking that the Academy chose to ignore these groundbreaking Canadian film newcomers.

Should have been nominated: Louise Archambault for Gabrielle, Matt Johnson for The Dirties, Jeff Barnaby for Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Denis Cote for Vic + Flo ont vu un ours
Should win: Denis Villeneuve for Enemy
Will win: Denis Villeneuve for Enemy

Performance by an actress in a leading role:
The nominees are:
Tatiana Maslany (Cas & Dylan)
Cara Gee (Empire of Dirt)
Gabrielle Marion-Rivard (Gabrielle)
Kawennahere Devery Jacobs (Rhymes for Young Ghouls)
Isabelle Guerard (Rouge Sang)

Canada’s current It Girl and Golden Globe nominee Tatiana Maslany is nominated for her leading turns in both television and film this year, but expect to see her win for her universally celebrated Orphan Black role in television. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous Kawennahere Devery Jacobs gave an expressive and visceral performance well beyond her years and may be this category’s dark horse winner. Neophyte Gabrielle Marion-Rivard’s gentle and charming turn as the titular character in the crowd-pleasing Gabrielle could prove to be an upset as well. However this award belongs to the powerhouse Cara Gee. Her breathtaking final scene in Empire of Dirt stayed with audiences long after they saw the film and will undoubtedly move a multitude of voters to check her name off their ballots.

Should have been nominated: Zoe Kazan for The F Word, Pierrette Robitaille for Vic + Flo ont vu un ours
Should win: Kawennahere Devery Jacobs for Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Will win: Cara Gee for Empire of Dirt

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
The nominees are:
Gabriel Arcand (The Dismantlement)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Enemy)
Daniel Radcliffe (The F Word)
Brendan Gleeson (The Grand Seduction)
Rajesh Tailang (Siddharth)

Household names Gyllenhaal, and stars of Harry Potter, Radcliffe and Gleeson all gave passable performances in their respective roles but none were truly award-worthy. A win for any of the three would certainly garner headlines and shine a spotlight on the Canadian film industry (and far more respectably than Rob Ford on Jimmy Kimmel Live). If that is the case, expect a surprise win for Gyllenhaal’s multifaceted twin roles in Enemy. Festival favorite Siddharth may have sadly gone unwatched by many voters, as it is the lone non-best picture contender here. It’s a shame because Rajesh Tailang’s performance was tremendously watchable. By far the standout performance in the group, though, is Gabriel Arcand’s searingly powerful turn in The Dismantlement.

Should have been nominated: Xavier Dolan for Tom at the Farm or Matt Johnson for The Dirties
Should win: Gabriel Arcand for The Dismantlement
Will win: Jake Gyllenhaal for Enemy

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
The nominees are:
Florence Blain (L’autre maison)
Evelyne Brochu (Tom at the Farm)
Mackenzie Davis (The F Word)
Sarah Gadon (Enemy)
Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt)

In one of the toughest races of the Screenies, these are five powerful performances all deserving of a win. Voters may choose to honor local favourite Jennifer Podemski, who also serves as a producer of the well-respected Empire of Dirt, and elevated lead actress nominee Cara Gee’s performance to astounding heights. If Gee isn’t feted in her category, look here for a win for a champion of Canadian cinema, Podemski. With the most nominations, Enemy most deserves to be celebrated in this category however. Rising star and Canadian sweetheart Sarah Gadon brings much needed warmth and tenderness to the film. She is also rapidly becoming a household name with her admirable range of roles. Voters tend to reward such actors, perhaps partially due to the potential headlines they could garner stateside (see James Cromwell’s win last year in the leading actor category).

Should have been nominated: Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin for Gabrielle, Romane Bohringer for Vic + Flo ont vu un ours
Should win: I’d be happy with either Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt) or a Sarah Gadon (Enemy) win here.
Will win: Sarah Gadon for Enemy

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
The nominees are:
Jay Baruchel (The Art of the Steal)
Alexandre Landry (Gabrielle)
Gordon Pinsent (The Grand Seduction)
Pierre-Yves Cardinal (Tom at the Farm)
Marc Labreche (Whitewash)

Jay Baruchel and Gordon Pinsent put in consistently great performances, and are both well-revered in the industry, but neither were as mesmerizing in their films as Pierre-Yves Cardinal or Alexandre Landry. Cardinal’s seductive turn as the deliciously villainous Francis in Tom at the Farm was one of the stand-out performances of the year, in a Canadian film or otherwise. Following Suzanne Clement’s bravura performance in Laurence Anyways, Xavier Dolan has once again brought out an astoundingly well-rounded performance out of his supporting lead. That being said, newcomer Alexandre Landry’s nuanced and quietly poetic role in Gabrielle reaped him honours from the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and it would be an upset if he didn’t win here. Marc Labreche was splendid in his first anglo-franco screen role, but didn’t even receive the same nom nod at the Quebec Oscars (les Jutras).

Should have been nominated: Nicholas Campbell for Algonquin or Adam Driver in The F Word
Should win: Pierre-Yves Cardinal for Tom at the Farm
Will win: Alexandre Landry for Gabrielle

Ted Rogers best feature length documentary award:
The nominees are:
Hi-ho Mistahey!
My Prairie Home
People of a Feather
Vanishing Point
Watermark

When it was announced that Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein hadn’t submitted Our Man in Tehran for contention, it became a foregone conclusion that the sweeping doc Watermark would easily win this award. After being feted as one of Canada’s Top Ten films by TIFF earlier this year and winning Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s beloved film is hands down the favourite in this category.

Should have been nominated: When Jews were Funny
Should win: Hi-ho Mistahey!
Will win: Watermark

The star studded Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast Gala is hosted by Martin Short on Sunday March 9, 2014 and airs on CBC at 8pm. For a full list of nominees and recipients of awards previously given out, go to academy.ca

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto-based writer for IONCINEMA.com who handles theatrical reviews, covers Toronto-based film events and handles IONCINEMA.com's monthly Book-to-Film Club/Feature. Top Films From Contemporary Film Auteurs: Almodóvar (Volver), Coen Bros. (Burn After Reading), Dardennes (Lorna's Silence), Haneke (The Piano Teacher), Hsiao-Hsien (Three Times), Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love), Kiarostami (Certified Copy), Lynch (Mulholland Drive), Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds), Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), von Trier (Melancholia)