Hits and Misses: The 2020 Canadian Screen Awards nominees

First off, a hearty congratulations to everyone who has been nominated for a 2020 Canadian Screen Award. I’ve spoken to many of you over the years and enjoyed our chats, your kindness and awesome skills whether you work in front of or behind the camera.

The Canadian Screen Awards are, I believe, 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 2020 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

  • Anne with an E
  • Cardinal
  • Coroner
  • Mary Kills People
  • Vikings

I’m thrilled to see such a diverse group of shows listed in this category. What Moira Walley-Beckett achieved with her adaptation of Anne of Green Gables was inspired, Cardinal put Canada on the map with regard to dark, brooding murder series, Coroner was the CBC’s biggest new hit in years, and Mary Kills People proved a controversial topic can air in primetime. As for Vikings? Well, I admire what creator Michael Hirst has done creating a wonderful world first inhabited by Ragnar Lothbrok and passed on to his sons, but I feel other shows were more deserving. Where is Killjoys, which has been so damn good during its entire run? Or how about Pure, which closed out a wonderful (perhaps) final season over on Super Channel? And, finally, Burden of Truth‘s second season was simply stellar, combining legal and life drama in tight storylines.

Best Comedy Series

  • Jann
  • Kim’s Convenience
  • Letterkenny
  • Schitt’s Creek
  • Workin’ Moms

I have no issues with any of the shows in this category. Jann blew everyone out of the water, establishing Jann Arden as a comic force on television and Letterkenny continues to come up with WTF moments. Schitt’s Creek showed yet another side to its sweet story of acceptance and Kim’s Convenience never fails to make me laugh and touch my heart. And though I’m happy Workin’ Moms is here, I don’t feel like Season 3 was its strongest. There were certainly moments where I nodded in understanding and laughed at its outrageous scenes, but I was a little befuddled/nonplussed by the Forrest/Kate storyline.

Best Reality/Competition Program or Series

  • The Amazing Race Canada
  • Big Brother Canada
  • Blown Away
  • The Great Canadian Baking Show
  • Top Chef Canada

Amid all of the Canadian spinoffs is Blown Away, a newcomer that, pun intended, blew me away. If you had told me putting a bunch of characters in a Hamilton factory and challenging them to make blown glass art for the chance to win money would be compelling TV, I would have laughed at you. But that’s exactly what Blown Away did. It deserves the trophy.

Best Sketch Comedy Show & Ensemble Performance

  • Baroness Von Sketch Show
  • The Beaverton
  • Tallboyz
  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes

Is there any other sketch show out there that hasn’t been included? Email me if the Academy missed one.

Best Lead Actor, Drama

  • Peter Mooney, Burden of Truth
  • Billy Campbell, Cardinal
  • Jerry O’Connell, Carter
  • Roger Cross, Coroner
  • Shawn Doyle, Unspeakable

This is a fantastic list of actors, but I am a little confused by what the Academy defines as a drama. Jerry O’Connell is great on Carter, but his performance could easily fit in the comedy category. I know it’s up to the production companies to submit, so I’ll give the Academy a bit of a break. Also, Unspeakable was more of a limited series than a series. Perhaps the Academy should bring back that category so shows like Unspeakable and Cardinal can duke it out there. And, to be honest, where is Yannick Bisson in all this? His Detective William Murdoch showed incredible range last season, from deep drama to gut-busting comedy. When is he going to get his due?

Best Lead Actress, Drama

  • Amybeth McNulty, Anne with an E
  • Karine Vanasse, Cardinal
  • Serinda Swan, Coroner
  • Lauren Lee Smith, Frankie Drake Mysteries
  • Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People

Where is Hannah John-Kamen from Killjoys, Melanie Scrofano from Wynonna Earp or Hélène Joy from Murdoch Mysteries?

Best Lead Actor, Comedy

  • Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Kim’s Convenience
  • Jared Keeso, Letterkenny
  • Jason Priestley, Private Eyes
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

A very strong bunch of fellows are in this category and all are equally deserving. It’s great to see Mr. Priestley in this category; his comic chops make Private Eyes howl-worthy.

Best Lead Actress, Comedy Series

  • Jann Arden, Jann
  • Jean Yoon, Kim’s Convenience
  • Michelle Mylett, Letterkenny
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt’s Creek
  • Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek

Another wonderful list of nominees. I only wish there was room for Andrea Bang from Kim’s Convenience, Dani Kind from Workin’ Moms or Cindy Sampson from Private Eyes.

The 2020 Canadian Screen Awards will be broadcast live Sunday, March 29 at 8 p.m. ET  on CBC.


13 thoughts on “Hits and Misses: The 2020 Canadian Screen Awards nominees”

  1. For dramas…Vikings is still by far my favourite Canadian series currently on tv and I think the quality is heads and tails above the rest. Second place, for me, would be Anne with an E. I don’t really like Coroner, its not my type of show, so I can’t judge that fairly. I really enjoyed Diggstown, which was mostly ignored for these awards. I also liked Northern Rescue. As for Killjoys, sadly, that’s a show that kind of fell by the wayside for me since I cut cable a couple years ago And both Burden of Proof and Cavendish are shows I haven’t watched yet but are sitting on my list of shows I want to get to eventually.

    As for comedies, I have no access to Jann although in the summer I’m planning on subscribing to Crave TV for a few months so I can watch some of the CTV/Bell Media series I’ve been missing out on. I’m trying to take turns with streaming services. There’s not too many comedies I watch as I much prefer dramas, but I do still continue to enjoy Workin’ Moms and Kim’s Convenience.

    1. I also wanted to add, I hate reality shows but one show I did make time for and my kids especially enjoyed as well, was Battle of the Blades, which in my opinion, should win for Best Reality Competition series.

  2. Interesting point on the lack of Limited Series category, as I was wondering why Unspeakable only got one nomination. At least it took home some major Leo awards.

  3. I think there’s a big difference in the Canadian Screen Awards vs The Emmy Awards in the US, for tv. We seem to celebrate the demise of popular tv series ( Schitts Creek, Ann with an E eg.), The Emmys boost the new shows and longstanding shows which carry on for years and are designated by the broadcaster as their Emmy Award winning show…
    Perhaps Letterkenny has been the exception in recent years, and Cardinal, but I do not see broadcasters jumping on the screen awards as a definite plus toward hanging in with their popular shows. Seems strange to me but this has been the case for years in Canadian tv where a show gets tons of nominations but it’s already been cancelled or about to be.

  4. I love, love, love Cardinal so I’m glad it has been nominated. You list shows me how strong Canadian TV can be. Actually, come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I watched anything non-Canadian (but then I don’t watch a lot of TV).

  5. The dynamic in some of these categories will change with shows leaving such as Anne with an E and Mary Kills People (and Schitt’s Creek after the 2021 ceremony). A lot more openings will serve other shows and actors.

  6. It’s still annoying that Vikings is considered Canadian enough to be nominated for best series. I get it being nominated for craft awards when those talented people are Canadian, but best series is an overall nod, including all of the creative decisions, and when the creator, show runner and sole writer is British, and the producers are also British, then that means Vikings isn ‘t a Canadian show, but rather a show that employs some Canadians. So let the individuals be nominated, but not the entire show.

    And as many people have discussed in previous years, Canadian shows don’t have the budgets to compete with shows like Vikings. You can say it’s creatively better, but that means the show has the money to allow it to be creatively better. People outside of the Canadian industry don’t understand the level of compromise that happens on every show, every day. What ends up on screen is usually a pale version of the original vision, and the biggest reason is money. A close second is an overall lack of confidence in our creatives by the decision makers, but that’s a story for another day.

    1. Agree! I didnt even realize Vikings was considered a Cdn series. Then again I consider ‘Anne With An E’ way less Cdn than the Kevin Sullivan productions I grew up on, but that’s just me.

  7. I can’t recall when Caught was on but it was amazing. They really should cover Limited Series. Cardinal, Caught, Unspeakable, The Book of Negroes, etc, I could go on. And what about The Detectives???? Also networks do a poor job of boosting their nominations. Two days after Coroner got Best drama nod, there was a promo on tv, but no mention of this. CSA-Gemini’s are still too insider, like the Junos were 30-40 years ago.

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