Entertainment

Canadian Screen Awards: Anne with an E, Schitt's Creek lead contenders

Anne with an E and Schitt's Creek, among the current wave of homegrown TV shows making a splash with international and domestic audiences, lead the race for this year's Canadian Screen Awards.

Broadcast gala celebrating Canadian TV, film and digital content set for March 31

Schitt's Creek stars, from left, Annie Murphy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara and Daniel Levy. The family comedy leads this year's contenders for the Canadian Screen Awards, tied with literary drama Anne with an E. (CBC)

Anne with an E and Schitt's Creek, among the current wave of homegrown TV shows making a splash with international and domestic audiences, lead the race for this year's Canadian Screen Awards (CSA).

Andrew Phung of CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience and actor-comedian Aisha Alfa unveiled this year's contenders at an event hosted by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television in Toronto on Thursday morning. The annual awards celebrate achievements in Canadian screen content, including film, television and digital media.

For a second consecutive year, CBC period drama Anne with an E was the lead nominee, tied this year with CBC's widely hailed comedy Schitt's Creek with 15 nominations. Netflix carries the two shows outside Canada.

CTV's crime drama Cardinal wasn't far behind with 14 nominations.

Billy Campbell stars as detective John Cardinal in the crime series Cardinal. (CNW Group/CTV)

Other current TV favourites that earned multiple nods include medical drama Mary Kills People (Global), sitcom Workin' Moms (CBC), historical epic Vikings (History), supernatural western series Wynonna Earp (Space) and quirky, adult-themed comedy Letterkenny (CraveTV).

With the country's comedies increasingly garnering recognition abroad, CSA producers have decided to shine the spotlight on Canadian comedic voices at this year's televised gala — which is stepping away from the traditional awards-show format and will also drop the traditional host.

"Canadian comedy is really having a moment right now, and we wanted to figure out a way to honour that. We came up with this idea, this concept for the show that would sort of raise all boats and bring all of these comedic voices to the forefront. And we felt like we didn't need a host to do that, honestly," said academy CEO Beth Jansen.

"We have an incredible writers' room on the show: it's all female, with some of the best comedy writers in Canada right now."

Best Drama Series

  • Anne with an E
  • Bad Blood
  • Blood and Water
  • Frankie Drake Mysteries
  • Vikings

Lisa Codrington, from left, Nathan Dales, Jared Keeso and Michelle Mylett appear in the hit comedy Letterkenny. (Bell Media)

Best Comedy Series

  • Letterkenny
  • Mr. D
  • Schitt's Creek
  • Second Jen
  • Workin' Moms

CBC netted more than 200 nominations overall, including 39 for CBC News. Notable nominees include CBC News: The National (15 nods), The Fifth Estate (six), Marketplace (four) and Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo (two).

French films dominate

This year's film contenders are a lesser-known bunch, with the best film category completely dominated by French-language titles. The leading movie nominees are both thrillers: the apocalyptic drama Just a Breath Away (Dans la brume) and sinister French- and English-language tale The Great Darkened Days (La grande noirceur), which tied with eight nominations each.

"Every year is different. I don't think it's some big statement about the state of English-Canadian film.… We produce films in all different kinds of languages," Jansen said. 

Every year is different. I don't think it's some big statement about the state of English-Canadian film.… We produce films in all different kinds of languages.- Beth Jansen, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television CEO

"I'm actually excited to bring some of these films to other parts of Canada that would never get the chance to see them [as part of the academy's newly announced Canadian Screen Arts Festival next month]. I'm seeing it as an opportunity more than anything else."

The French-language dominance is a testament to the strength of Canada's francophone community, said Phung.

They have a full star system. They are telling stories and really putting support into their filmmakers. But also their young filmmakers look up, and they see all these established filmmakers, and there's a whole system there.- Andrew Phung of CBC sitcom  Kim's Convenience

"They have a full star system. They are telling stories and really putting support into their filmmakers. But also their young filmmakers look up, and they see all these established filmmakers, and there's a whole system there," he said.

"Knowing the [English-Canadian] creators that are out there right now, it just a matter of time before they are back in the mix," he added.

"At the end of the day, I love to see great Canadian content because French films are also Canadian films."

The dominance of French-language titles among the film nominees this year is a testament to the strength of Canada's francophone community, says Andrew Phung. 'At the end of the day, I love to see great Canadian content because French films are also Canadian films.' (CBC)

Best motion picture

  • A Colony (Une colonie)
  • Family First (Chien de garde)
  • Genesis (Genèse)
  • Just a Breath Away (Dans la brume)
  • The Great Darkened Days (La grande noirceur)

Best feature-length documentary

  • Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
  • Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Worlds of Christopher Pratt
  • Letter from Masanjia
  • The Devil's Share (La Part du diable)
  • What Walaa Wants

Other titles in the running in the movie categories include Oscar-nominated filmmaker Kim Nguyen's star-studded The Hummingbird Project, Inuit lacrosse story The Grizzlies, Afrofuturist tale Brown Girl Begins andAnthropocene: The Human Epoch, the documentary portion of a multidisciplinary project by photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

Animal Behaviour, the comedic National Film Board of Canada animated short nominated for the upcoming Oscars, also garnered a CSA nod.  

Winners of the 2019 awards will be announced at various events during the academy's annual Canadian Screen Week celebrations in March, which culminate in the televised Canadian Screen Awards gala in Toronto on March 31, broadcast live on CBC.

Rising Canadian star Stephan James, seen in the film If Beale Street Could Talk and the streaming series Homecoming, is among this year's special award winners. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Organizers also revealed this year's special award recipients, including sketch troupe The Kids in the Hall (Academy Icon Award), comedy veteran Mary Walsh (Earle Grey Award) and filmmaker Deepa Mehta (Lifetime Achievement Award).

As well, academy chair Martin Katz introduced two new prizes: the Industry Leadership Award, which will go to entertainment firm eOne, and the Radius Award honouring a Canadian making waves globally, with If Beale Street Could Talk and Homecoming actor Stephan James as the first recipient.


Select 2019 nominees:

Best Lead Actress, TV Comedy

  • Cindy Sampson, Private Eyes
  • Annie Murphy, Schitt's Creek
  • Catherine O'Hara, Schitt's Creek
  • Catherine Reitman, Workin' Moms
  • Dani Kind, Workin' Moms

Best Lead Actor, TV Comedy

  • Jared Keeso, Letterkenny
  • Jason Priestley, Private Eyes
  • Gerry Dee, Mr. D
  • Daniel Levy, Schitt's Creek
  • Eugene Levy, Schitt's Creek

Best Lead Actor, TV Drama Series

  • Kim Coates, Bad Blood
  • Jerry O'Connell, Carter
  • Aaron Ashmore, Killjoys
  • Yannick Bisson, Murdoch Mysteries
  • Eric McCormack, Travelers

Amybeth McNulty is a TV drama lead actress nominee for her role as Anne Shirley in Anne with an E. (Chris Reardon)

Best Lead Actress, Drama Series

  • Amybeth McNulty, Anne with an E
  • Kristin Kreuk, Burden of Truth
  • Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People
  • Wendy Crewson, The Detail
  • Melanie Scrofano, Wynonna Earp

Best Lead Actress, TV Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Mary Walsh, A Christmas Fury
  • Karine Vanasse, Cardinal: Blackfly Season
  • Tori Anderson, Caught
  • Amy Matysio, Save Me

Best Lead Actor, TV Drama Program or Limited Series

  • Mark McKinney, A Christmas Fury
  • Billy Campbell, Cardinal: Blackfly Season
  • Allan Hawco, Caught
  • Fab Filippo, Save Me

Best Local Newscast

  • CBC Toronto News at Six
  • CityNews
  • CTV News at 6 (Vancouver)
  • CTV News Toronto at 6

Best National Newscast

  • CBC News: The National
  • CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme
  • Global National

Best News or Information Series

  • APTN Investigates
  • CBC News: Marketplace
  • The Fifth Estate
  • W5

Best Sports Program or Series

  • Endless - In Pursuit of The Barkley (TSN)
  • I AM: Auston Matthews (Sportsnet)
  • Kevin Stevens - Shattered (Sportsnet)
  • Reborn - Basketball & Reconciliation in Rwanda (TSN)

Baroness von Sketch Show stars and creators Jennifer Whalen, from left, Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill and Carolyn Taylor are nomined for their sketch series. (CBC)

Best Sketch Comedy Show & Ensemble Performance

  • Baroness von Sketch Show
  • Caution: May Contain Nuts
  • This Hour Has 22 Minutes

Best Limited Series or Program

  • Cardinal: Blackfly Season
  • Caught
  • Second Opinion
  • The Indian Detective

Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary Program

  • Driving with Selvi
  • Quiet Killing
  • The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution
  • The Way Out

Best Web Program or Series, Fiction

  • NarcoLeap
  • Chateau Laurier
  • Gary and His Demons
  • Ghost BFF
  • How to Buy a Baby

Best Web Program or Series, Non-Fiction

  • Farm Crime
  • In Chinatown
  • MUCH Pride
  • The Artists: The Pioneers Behind the Pixels
  • The Move

National Ballet of Canada dancer Siphe November appears in a scene from the CBC Arts series The Move. (CBC Arts)

Best News Anchor, Local

  • Debra Arbec, CBC Montreal News at 6
  • Tom Murphy, Amy Smith, CBC Nova Scotia News
  • Dwight Drummond, CBC Toronto News at Six
  • Ken Shaw, CTV News Toronto at 6
  • Michelle Dubé, CTV News Toronto at 6

Best News Anchor, National

  • Heather Hiscox, CBC News: Morning Live with Heather Hiscox
  • Adrienne Arsenault, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Ian Hanomansing, CBC News: The National
  • Lisa LaFlamme, CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme
  • Dawna Friesen, Global National
The National hosts, from left, Rosemary Barton, Andrew Chang, Adrienne Arsenault and Ian Hanomansing are nominated for best national news anchor. (CBC)

A complete list of nominees in all categories is available at academy.ca.

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