First of all, a hearty congratulations to everyone who has been nominated for a 2018 Canadian Screen Award. I’ve spoken to many of you over the years and basked in both your kindness and awesome skills whether you work in front of or behind the camera.
I believe the Canadian Screen Awards are as important and justified in their existence as the Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmys and BAFTA awards; and with that comes the scrutiny that befalls the Academy and the nominations it puts forth every year. What does that mean? I poke, prod and peruse the television categories and scrutinize every decision the Academy has made with regard to the 2018 television nominations.
Here are my thoughts on several of the key categories. Let me know your own thoughts in the comments section below!
Best Drama Series
- Mary Kills People
I’m thrilled to see 19-2, Anne, Mary Kills People and Pure all in this category. Each represents unique storytelling, characters that are interesting and push the boundaries of what we view as heroes and villains. I’m especially tickled that Pure is here because I think what creator Michael Amo, director Ken Girotti and stars Ryan Robbins, Alex Paxton-Beesley, A.J. Buckley and Peter Outerbridge did was really special. That said, I’d rather have seen Vikings replaced by X Company or Travelers. Both of those programs—X Company in its last and Travelers in its first—provided more engaging stories than Vikings did and in more creative ways. Honourable mention: Hard Rock Medical, which manages to jam twisting, dramatic storylines into a mere 22 minutes of airtime.
Best Comedy Series
- Workin’ Moms
- Nirvanna the Band the Show
- Michael: Every Day
- Kim’s Convenience
Letterkenny continues its journey to being one of the greatest Canadian comedies of all time while breaking new ground being a Crave TV original. Workin’ Moms was simply fantastic in its debut season, Kim’s Convenience is stellar and Michael: Every Day was a comic gem that I’m glad CBC revisited. I simply don’t get Nirvanna the Band the Show. I’ve tried to watch it several times and couldn’t stick with it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my forties and it’s not for my demographic. To me, Mohawk Girls deserved to be in that final spot. Co-created by Tracey Deer (who received a well-deserved nomination for her directing) and Cynthia Knight, Mohawk Girls effectively delivered laughs and tears while telling the tale of four women negotiating life, love and what it means to be a member of the First Nations today.
Best Sketch Comedy Program or Series
- The Beaverton
- Baroness Von Sketch Show
- Rick Mercer Report
- This Hour Has 22 Minutes
I have no issues with this category. Let’s move on.
Best Reality Competition Series
- The Amazing Race Canada
- The Bachelorette Canada
- Big Brother Canada
- MasterChef Canada
- Top Chef Canada
If this category has proved anything, it’s that we’re able to successfully create homegrown versions of proven international reality competition series and nab large audiences for them. Now it’s time to create our own concepts like CBC’s Crash Gallery and CTV’s The Launch; I expect to see the latter nominated in this category next year.
Best Limited Series or Program
- Alias Grace
- The Disappearance
- The Kennedys: After Camelot
- Bruno & Boots: This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall
Holy crap is this a stacked category. All are worthy of being here both for the writing, acting, directing and production values. My murder and mayhem-loving heart is filled with love for Cardinal, The Disappearance and Alias Grace. The pleasant surprise for me is Bruno & Boots which deserves to be here. The tone may different from the other four but that’s what makes it so exciting to see that project here. I’d love it if Bruno & Boots won.
Best Lead Actress, Comedy
- Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
- Catherine Reitman, Workin’ Moms
- Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
- Andrea Bang, Kim’s Convenience
- Jean Yoon, Kim’s Convenience
Another category jammed with bona fide, worthy winners. All are strong women in real life and on the small screen. Andrea Bang and Jean Yoon have created something truly special via Janet and Umma’s relationship, especially in the second season. I wish a sixth name could be added to this list and that it was Dani Kind’s. Her portrayal of Anne Carlson on Workin’ Moms has been a revelation. I’m still marvelling at how a character like Anne can struggle with connecting with her two children, worry the nanny is stealing her family away and decide to have an abortion … and make the situation alternately heartbreaking and hilarious.
Best Lead Actor, Comedy
- Gerry Dee, Mr. D
- Jared Keeso, Letterkenny
- Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience
- Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek
- Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
I agree with all the names on this list and don’t envy the Academy for having to choose a winner.
Best Lead Actress, Drama Series
- Amybeth McNulty, Anne
- Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People
- Jennie Raymond, Sex & Violence
- Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
- Meaghan Rath, Rogue
I have not, I must confess, watched Sex & Violence or Rogue, so I’m kind of out of my element here. Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion. McNulty’s portrayal of Anne Shirley re-created the character for a whole new generation of Anne of Green Gables fans. She certainly won me over. Caroline Dhavernas was great in Season 1 of Mary Kills People (I think she’s even better in the two episodes I’ve seen of Season 2) and Tatiana Maslany is, well, frigging Tatiana Maslany. If I could suggest a couple of other names for this category they would be Melissa O’Neil for Dark Matter and Hannah John-Kamen for Killjoys. Both were kicking ass and taking names in their sci-fi series while showing sensitivity and humour throughout. And yes, I’m still pissed Dark Matter was cancelled. Thanks for asking.
Best Lead Actor, Drama Series
- Brian Markinson, The Romeo Section
- Richard Short, Mary Kills People
- Christopher Heyerdahl, Van Helsing
- Alexander Ludwig, Vikings
- Shawn Doyle, Bellevue
Brian Markinson was so, so good in Season 2 of The Romeo Section; I’m thrilled he got a nod here. Rather than swap a name out, I’d like to add one: Shaun Johnston. His Grandpa Jack on Heartland has been through a lot over the past several years but he’s always been the rock everyone could lean on. In this past season of Heartland, Jack was called upon to help run the ranch while being there for Georgie and Amy, especially when Ty was away in Mongolia. Those storylines called on Johnston to do some major heavy lifting and he shouldered it with no problems at all. Honourable mention to X Company‘s Jack Laskey who was so fantastic as Alfred Graves in the historical drama’s final season.
Best Lead Actress, Drama Program or Limited Series
- Sarah Gadon, Alias Grace
- Maxim Roy, Bad Blood
- Karine Vanasse, Cardinal
- Camille Sullivan, The Disappearance
- Hélène Joy, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays
Honestly, how can you pick a winner out of this group of wide-ranging and fantastic characters?! That said, the Murdoch Mysteries fan in me is pissed Hélène Joy is nominated in this category rather than Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Shaftesbury, the show’s production company, put the Christmas special up for consideration in this category AND the show up for Best Drama Series, so I guess the Academy decided she was a better fit here?
Best Lead Actor, Drama Program or Limited Series
- Kim Coates, Bad Blood
- Edward Holcroft, Alias Grace
- Billy Campbell, Cardinal
- Alan Thicke, It’s Not My Fault and I Don’t Care Anyway
- Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays
Again, a stunning group of actors in this category and my same complaint for the previous category goes here: what the hell is Yannick Bisson doing here and not in the major Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series?!
The Canadian Screen Awards Broadcast gala airs live Sunday, March 11 at 8 p.m. on CBC.
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