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'How To Train Your Dragon' Director Among Canadian Oscar Nominees

Quebec's Dean DeBlois is part of the contingent representing Canada this year.
From left to right: Animator Dean DeBlois, sound engineer Paul Massey, and production designer Dennis Gassner are among the Canadian 2020 Oscar Nominees.
From left to right: Animator Dean DeBlois, sound engineer Paul Massey, and production designer Dennis Gassner are among the Canadian 2020 Oscar Nominees.

TORONTO — Animator Dean DeBlois, sound engineer Paul Massey, production designer Dennis Gassner, director Sami Khan and filmmaker Meryam Joobeur will be among those representing Canada at this year’s Oscars.

DeBlois, who hails from Aylmer, Que., got a nod for best animated feature this morning for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” which he wrote and directed.

It’s the final instalment in the Oscar-nominated animated film trilogy, which has the lead voice of Montreal-raised actor Jay Baruchel as a young Viking named Hiccup.

After the nominations broke this morning, people took to Twitter to celebrate the animated feature film nominees.

While many were disappointed that Disney’s “Frozen 2” — which earned nearly $1.4 US billion worldwide — was snubbed, others were happy to see the award show recognize other talents such as DeBlois (Disney’s other hit, “The Lion King,” was not submitted for consideration in the animated feature category).

Unsurprisingly, fans are excited “How To Train Your Dragon: Hidden World” could take the crown. The movie crushed box office expectations last year, passing $500 US million worldwide.

It has high ratings from online reviewers, with 99 per cent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, 8.1/10 from IMDb and 4/5 from Common Sense Media.

DeBlois was previously nominated for Oscars for 2011′s “How to Train Your Dragon” and the 2015 sequel.

Meanwhile, Massey is in the running for best sound mixing on “Ford v Ferrari.”

The biographical drama stars Matt Damon as American car designer Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as British driver Ken Miles.

Vancouver-born Gassner is a contender for best production design on the epic war film “1917.”

Sarnia, Ont. filmmaker Sami Khan is co-nominated for best documentary short subject for “St. Louis Superman,” about Black rapper and activist Bruce Franks, who is now an elected Democrat in the Missouri House Of Representatives.

And the Montreal-based, Tunisian-born Joobeur is nominated for best live action short for “Brotherhood.”

“Brotherhood” is about a Tunisian shepherd who faces a dilemma when his estranged eldest son returns home from Syria with a mysterious young wife.

The film is a co-production between Tunisia, Canada, Qatar and Sweden.

Canadian sound engineer Paul Massey accepts the Sound Mixing award for 'Bohemian Rhapsody' during the 91st Annual Academy Awards.
Canadian sound engineer Paul Massey accepts the Sound Mixing award for 'Bohemian Rhapsody' during the 91st Annual Academy Awards.

This is the ninth Oscar nomination for Massey, who was born in England but early in his career lived in Toronto before moving to Los Angeles.

Last year he won the golden statuette for his work on “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Massey worked in Toronto for 13 years, eventually moving into TV and film post-production, before moving to Los Angeles to concentrate on features.

This is Gassner’s seventh Oscar nod. He won the honour in 1992 for “Bugsy,” and was last nominated in 2018 for “Blade Runner 2049,” directed by Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve.

Joobeur’s previous films include the 2012 documentary short “Gods, Weeds and Revolutions,” about a young woman who returns to Tunisia and deals with her grandfather’s Alzheimer’s.

Her 2017 short fiction film, “Born in the Maelstrom,” follows a young biracial woman as she struggles to find her identity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2020.

With files from Waverly Neufeld and Lisa Yeung.