Canadians overwhelmed by nominations
HOLLYWOOD – Few people, least of all a pair of humble Canadian filmmakers such as Denis Villeneuve and Dean DeBlois, ever dream about even attending the Academy Awards. But Villeneuve and DeBlois are among the four Canadians who could walk away with an Oscar on Sunday.
“The thing is, to be honest with you, and I know it sounds silly, ” Villeneuve said Thursday in an interview, “but I still have some difficulty (in processing) this.”
The weeks since the Oscar nominations were announced have not been long enough to allow him to make sense of the thrill and the fear, the Montreal writer-director said at the all-Canadian Oscar luncheon, hosted by the Consul General of Canada in Los Angeles.
“It’s a hell of a dream!”
Villeneuve’s Incendies is nominated as the best foreign language film, only the fifth Canadian-made picture to get such a nod. DeBlois is nominated because he co-wrote and co-directed the animated children’s classic How to Train Your Dragon with American Chris Sanders. Their dynamic film, featuring voice work by Montrealer Jay Baruchel as young hero Hiccup, is nominated in the best animated feature category.
The other Canadians nominated are Adrien Morot, cited for best makeup for his subtle aging work with Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike in Barney’s Version, and Craig Berkey, who is double-nominated as part of the sound editing and mixing crew on True Grit.
Like Villeneuve, DeBlois finds the entire Oscar fantasy “very surreal,” he said at the luncheon, “because we animators are not glamourous folks. We all know each other and, when any of our films get recognized, we’re always cheering for each other. But to have that acknowledgement be in the form of Academy Awards …”
DeBlois is speechless, in awe of the honour. Then he describes how the Oscar nomination has meant a whirlwind of galas during awards season.
“Suddenly you’re walking red carpets with celebrities you know from movies. And filmmakers who made the movies that inspired you in the first place when you’re eight years old and still playing in puddles in the ditch in the front yard with action figures! To meet George Lucas and to meet Steven Spielberg, and to have conversations with them about the film you’ve just made — and they’ve seen — is kind of mind-blowing and, at the same time, kind of humbling.”
Villeneuve is planning to take “the woman of my life, Macha (Grenon)” as his special guest on Sunday.
“I am very happy, and it is a huge privilege for me because I need her! I would be too nervous without her.”
He spent years watching other filmmakers bring their spouses to the Oscars “and it was so elegant and so romantic. For me it was very important that she would be beside me. The truth is, I think it is very tough to be the partner of a film director, so it’s her place to be here.”
British author Cressida Cowell is coming as one of DeBlois’ guests. She wrote the Dragon book series that has enchanted children worldwide. “I ended up getting six extras tickets,” DeBlois said. “Of course, there are DreamWorks executives who wanted to be there, but I managed to get my mom there, and Cressida is getting that second ticket of that pair.” Claudette DeBlois is the filmmaker’s mom and she still lives in his hometown of Aylmer, Que.
As passive-aggressive Canadians, both Villeneuve and DeBlois hope to win but do not necessarily expect it. There is tough competitive in both categories. Makeup artist Adrien Morot has the same problem. Rick Baker and Dave Elsey teamed up for the makeup on The Wolfman — and Morot idolizes Baker.
“When you watch The Matrix and Keanu Reeves is being referenced as The One,” Morot said, “Rick Baker is basically that. He is The One for makeup. He is The Chosen One. That guy has done so much and everything he touches is just simply amazing!”
Canadians overwhelmed by nominations