Arts

7 reasons you should care about the Canadian Screen Awards this year

Big name films, diversity and host Norm Macdonald among the reasons for excitement

CSA nominees

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The 4th annual Canadian Screen Awards were announced this morning, and while they might not have the profile of a certain American awards show (rhymes with "boxcars"), here are seven reasons to convince you otherwise.

You've actually heard of some of the nominees...

For the first time in the history of Canada's big film awards (which were known as the Genie Awards until 2013 if you really haven't been paying attention), a film nominated for best picture also received the equivalent nomination at the Oscars. And it wasn't just one film.

Both Brooklyn and Room are Canadian co-productions, and thus were eligible for Canadian Screen Award nominations. This certainly ups the profile of the CSAs, and hopefully further pressures folks to see both of those wonderful films if they haven't already.

...and you should see some of the ones you haven't heard of, too

Room

Brie Larson, left, and Jacob Tremblay appear in a scene from the film, "Room." (A24 Films/Canadian Press)

Just because a Canadian film didn't get nominated for some fancy Oscar doesn't mean you shouldn't care about it. While Brooklyn and Room certainly deserve our attention, so do the other eight films nominated for best picture: Corbo, The Demons, Felix and Meira, The Forbidden Room, My Internship In Canada, Our Loved Ones, Remember and Sleeping Giant. Check your local listings, because we promise you they are more worth your time than the Hollywood fare coming out this month (sorry, Dirty Grandpa).

#CSAsNotSoWhite

Less than a week after the Oscars received serious criticism for nominating an entirely white slate of acting nominees (for the second year in a row, no less), the Canadian Screen Awards were relatively quite diverse.

In the film categories, three people of colour —Waris Ahluwalis (Beeba Boys), Irdens Exantus (My Internship In Canada) and Balinder Johal (Beeba Boys) — were nominated for acting awards, while on the TV side Emmanuel Kabongo (Teenagers), Adrian Holmes (19-2), Al Mukadam (Spun Out), Lyriq Bent (The Book of Negroes), Shailyn Pierre-Dixon (The Book of Negroes), Yanna McIntosh (Antony & Cleopatra) and Aunjanue Ellis (The Book of Negroes) helped make for seven acting nominees of colour.

Women made up a sizable portion of the directing and producing nominees

A woman hasn't been nominated for a best directing Oscar since Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to ever win it back in 2010. During that Oscar dry spell (which has also proved controversial, and rightfully so), six Canadian women have been nominated for a best directing prize at the Genies or CSAs, including Anne Émond this year for Our Loved Ones.

In addition, nine women were nominated for producing one of the best picture nominees. One of them was Nancy Grant, who received a double nomination for producing both Felix and Meira and Our Loved Ones. Notably, Grant won the prize last year for producing Xavier Dolan's Mommy.

TV Schitts Creek 20150112

Actor Daniel Levy and Eugene Levy are shown in promotional photos for Schitt's Creek. (HO-CBC/Canadian Press)

Eugene and Dan Levy are competing against each other

The father-son duo both got nominations for best performance by an actor in a continuing leading comedic role for CBC's Schitt's Creek, potentially making for an awkward family moment during the telecast.

The kid from Room was nominated, and if he wins, it means we get another adorable speech

Nine-year-old Vancouver native Jacob Tremblay may have been snubbed for an Oscar nomination, but he'll be competing against the likes of Christopher Plummer and Rossif Sutherland at the CSAs. No disrespect to either of those men, but we'd love to see Tremblay win just so he can make another speech as adorable as this one:

Jacob Tremblay, 9, steals the room at Critics' Choice Awards 3:58

Who will win the award for best performing arts program!?!

There are only two nominees in the category of best performing arts program, the Stratford Festival HD films of King John and King Lear (both of which aired on CBC, we should add). And both are produced by the same team of people: Barry Avrich, Susan Edwards, Anita Gaffney and Michael Levine. Which means those four folks are competing against themselves, and unless there's a surge in write-in ballots for some other King, they have this CSA in the bag.

Norm Macdonald will host the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's 2016 Canadian Screen Awards (another reason in itself) on March 13 in Toronto. They will air on CBC-TV at 8pm (9pm AT, 9:30pm NT).

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