Canadians among Oscar noms
TORONTO — It was a joyous day for “Juno” on Tuesday as the teen pregnancy comedy snagged a handful of prestigious Oscar nominations, including best picture, best actress for Halifax’s Ellen Page, best director for Montreal-born Jason Reitman and best original screenplay for first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody.
Toronto’s Sarah Polley, who’s won various film critics’ association awards for her direction of the moving Alzheimer’s drama “Away From Her,” picked up a surprise best adapted screenplay nomination for her deft reworking of an Alice Munro short story.
The film’s reclusive British star, Julie Christie — who had to be cajoled by Polley for months before agreeing to play a woman stricken with Alzheimer’s — also got a best actress nod.
Proving itself the “Little Miss Sunshine” of 2007, “Juno” is the only comedy among the dark best picture offerings. It’s competing against “No Country for Old Men,” a crime saga about a drug deal gone bad, “There Will Be Blood,” a historical epic set in California’s oil boom years, the melancholy wartime romance “Atonement” and the legal drama “Michael Clayton.”
Except for “There Will Be Blood,” all of the best picture nominees had their North American premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. “Juno” had its world premiere at the festival and was a fan favourite.
The National Film Board of Canada’s “Madame Tutli-Putli,” which also screened at the festival, got a nod in the best animated short category, as did “I Met the Walrus,” from Toronto animator Josh Raskin.
The 20-year-old Page, who lives in Halifax in a house she shares with friends, seemed stunned to hear of her nomination when she appeared on NBC’s “The Today Show” early Tuesday.
“It’s extremely humbling to be recognized with these other actresses, people I respect and admire — it’s crazy,” said Page, who once had a role on the goofy Showcase hit “Trailer Park Boys.”
“I just feel so grateful to be part of the film and I’m so happy that people have responded to it in the way that they have.”
In addition to Christie, Page is up against Marion Cotillard for “La Vie en rose,” Cate Blanchett for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and Laura Linney for “The Savages.”
Page and other Canadians may not get their moment in the Hollywood spotlight, however — the ongoing screenwriters strike could prevent the glitzy awards ceremony from being held on Feb. 24, despite the insistence from Oscar organizers that their show will go on, with or without writers.
“We’re dealing with contingencies but we’re thrusting ahead,” Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told The Associated Press.
“The point is, we’re going to have a show, and we’re going to give these incredible artists what they’re due. We’re going to present the Oscars on Feb. 24, and that is the important thing.”
But the stars were already saying Tuesday they would refuse to cross any picket lines set up by the Writers Guild of America, just as they did before the Jan. 13 Golden Globes. Their stance forced the cancellation of the Globes televised gala, and could spell the same fate for the Oscars, an annual movie-lovers’ tradition that attracts a billion viewers worldwide.
“I wouldn’t do that (cross a picket line). I couldn’t. I come from a tradition of not crossing picket lines,” Tom Wilkinson, a supporting-actor nominee for “Michael Clayton,” told The Associated Press.
Tony Gilroy, a directing nominee for “Michael Clayton,” echoed that sentiment.
“I would never cross a picket line ever. I couldn’t,” he said. “I’m a 20-year member of the Writers Guild. I think whatever they work out is going to be one way or the other but no, I could never cross a picket line. I think there’s a lot of people who feel that way.”
Viggo Mortensen — up for best actor for his role as a Russian mobster in David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises” — said he was hoping for the best.
“I have a feeling they’ll solve it,” he said. “I hope they do. I’m sure my mom would like to see me on TV and so forth. But if there’s a strike, I’m not crossing the line.”
Daniel Day-Lewis, an Oscar winner for “My Left Foot,” grabbed another best-actor nomination as a flamboyant oil baron in “There Will Be Blood.”
Along with Day-Lewis and Mortensen, George Clooney is nominated for “Michael Clayton,” Tommy Lee Jones for “In the Valley of Elah” and Johnny Depp for “Sweeney Todd.”
In the best supporting actor category, Javier Bardem is nominated for his turn as a soulless serial killer in “No Country for Old Men.” He’s up against Casey Affleck for “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Hal Holbrook for “Into the Wild” and Wilkinson for “Michael Clayton.”
In addition to her best actress nod, past Oscar winner Blanchett received a supporting actress nomination for the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There.”
Other supporting actress nominees included Ruby Dee for “American Gangster,” Saoirse Ronan for “Atonement,” Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton.”
Notable absentees from this year’s list of nominees included Angelina Jolie and Keira Knightley, who had been considered shoo-ins in the best actress category for “A Mighty Heart” and “Atonement” respectively. James McAvoy, the male lead in “Atonement,” and the film’s director, Joe Wright, also failed to make the cut.
That doesn’t bode well for a best picture win for “Atonement,” despite its recent Golden Globe win for best drama.
Reitman and Gilroy were joined in the best director category by Paul Thomas Anderson for “There Will Be Blood,” Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for “No Country for Old Men” and Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
“Into The Wild,” the Sean Penn film that landed on many critics’ Top 10 list last year, was snubbed, just as it was at the Golden Globes.
Michael Moore, who castigated President George W. Bush over the Iraq War in his best-documentary acceptance speech for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003, is back in Oscar contention with his health-care documentary “Sicko.”
War-on-terror documentaries dominated the category, with “Sicko” up against “No End in Sight,” “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” and “Taxi to the Dark Side.”
In the best foreign film category, Israel’s “Beaufort” is facing “The Counterfeiters” from Austria, Poland’s “Katyn,” “Mongol” from Kazakhstan and Russia’s “12.”
Canadians among Oscar noms