Quebec director Jean-Marc Vallée’s romantic film Café de Flore has received a leading 13 nominations for Genie Awards, including best picture and best director.
David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, a cerebral story centred on the relationship between the fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, is also a strong contender, with 11 nominations.
Nominations for the 32nd Annual Genie Awards, Canada’s awards for the best in film, were announced by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television on Tuesday at news conferences in Toronto and Montreal.
The best picture nominees:
- A Dangerous Method, directed by Cronenberg.
- Café de Flore, directed by Vallée.
- Monsieur Lazhar, directed by Philippe Falardeau.
- Starbuck, directed by Ken Scott.
- The Whistleblower, directed by Larysa Kondracki.
Cronenberg, Vallée, Falardeau and Kondracki all earned best director nominations. They are joined by Steven Silver, director of The Bang Bang Club.
Vallée a past Genie winner
Vallée’s 2005 film C.R.A.Z.Y. earned him three Genies, including best film, best screenplay and best director. He made an English-language film, The Young Victoria, that was nominated for three Oscars before returning to francophone cinema with Café de Flore.
The film, displaying the same romantic sensibility that made C.R.A.Z.Y. a Golden Reel winner (for top Canadian box office), follows the parallel fates of Jacqueline, a young mother with a disabled son in 1960s Paris, and Antoine, a recently divorced, successful DJ in present-day Montreal.
Several of its stars have nominations for their performances, including Vanessa Paradis as best actress, Hélène Florent as supporting actress and Marin Gerrier as supporting actor.
Monsieur Lazhar, about an Algerian immigrant who helps a middle-school class cope with the loss of a beloved teacher, is Canada’s entry for a best foreign language film Oscar. It has nine Genie nominations, including best actor for Fellag, who plays the Algerian teacher, and best supporting actress for Sophie Nélisse.
The Bang Bang Club, about a group of photojournalists covering the final bloody days of white rule in South Africa, has seven nominations, including best cinematography and best supporting actor for Taylor Kitsch.
The Bang Bang Club's director Silver said his film had a good reception in the U.S. and South Africa as well as in Canada.
"It's a sign that part of the system is working — films that are not only critially acclaimed but also films that have found an audience and found a home in the marketplace as well," Silver told CBC News.
The Whistleblower, the story of a UN peacekeeper who tries to expose widespread corruption in post-War Bosnia, has nods in six categories, including best actress for Rachel Weisz.
Weisz is not the only bankable international star vying for best actress honours. Another is Michelle Williams, who played the lead role in Take This Waltz, the story of a failed romance directed by Canada’s Sarah Polley. Take This Waltz was not a critical success and earned just two nominations – the other for makeup.
Also in the running for best actress are Catherine de Léan in rave-set love story Nuit #1 and Pascale Montpetit in The Girl in the White Coat, based on a Nikolai Gogol short story about a girl mocked for her shabby coat.
Both Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen are best performance contenders for their roles in A Dangerous Method. Fassbender is competing with Patrick Huard, the veteran Quebec comedian, who plays the child-man who fathered more than 500 children through artificial insemination in Starbuck.
The leads in gangster flick Edwin Boyd also got recognition — best actor for Scott Speedman and best supporting actor for Kevin Durand.
It’s been a busy year for Durand, who appeared in Reel Steel and Cosmopolis, as well as Edwin Boyd.
“Not bad for a Thunder Bay boy,” he said of his career, adding that he was honoured to get a Genie nomination for “a film we are so proud of.”
“For me, it just tells me that maybe I'm doing something right. And I look forward and hope to have many more opportunities to keep figuring it out and getting better. The film was such a good experience.”
The Genie winners will be announced March 8 in Toronto.