TORONTO –Montreal director Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World” and Space’s human cloning series “Orphan Black” emerged Sunday as this year’s big Canadian Screen Awards winners.
Including awards handed out earlier in the week, “Orphan Black” nabbed nine trophies. It won best dramatic series and best lead actress in a dramatic role for star Tatiana Maslany, who plays multiple clones in the sci-fi show, all with different personalities and accents.
“It’s been such an amazing journey, this show, for me. I’ve really grown up on it. It’s been a huge responsibility and a huge privilege and I’ve made a family on it that I’m going to miss so much,” she said backstage, referring to the show’s final upcoming season.
“We’re saying bye to characters every day and that’s just devastating.”
Maslany won another trophy for another project on Sunday – best actress for the film “The Other Half.” That honour had her teary eyed as she thanked her “other half,” her boyfriend Tom Cullen, who’s also the film’s co-star/executive producer.
Dolan’s French-language drama won six trophies, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography. Organizers said Dolan was shooting in Paris and was unable to attend.
The film, about a dying writer who returns home to his estranged family, got a mixed reaction from critics when it screened at last May’s Cannes Film Festival. But it ended up winning the festival’s Grand Prix prize – the second-most prestigious award. And last month, the film won three Cesar Awards – which are often nicknamed the “French Oscars” – including a best director nod for Dolan.
Toronto-born “America’s Got Talent” judge Howie Mandel got playful with the crowd as he hosted the show from Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
In a pre-taped opening bit, Mandel joked that he had created an Oscars-inspired montage of top nominees on his laptop, which turned out to include himself digitally inserted – badly – into the likes of “Vikings” and “Kim’s Convenience.”
He also riffed on how the awards show doesn’t have a good nickname, although others have suggested the Screenies or the Candys, after the late Canadian actor John Candy.
“I know other hosts have been talking about naming it, I want to name it. What is it for?” Mandel said, adding the awards honour the best in Canadian film, television and digital work.
“So what is it? Screen, television, digital. This will go viral – it’s an STD.
“How many of you are going to go home tonight with an STD?”
Mandel often went into the audience to do improvised bits with guests including Dave Chappelle, who presented the Icon Award to the homegrown comedy brand Just for Laughs.
“We should do something for Canada,” Mandel said as he distributed a card that he said he bought at Shoppers Drug Mart for Canada’s 150th birthday.
“Maybe a surprise party. You know what – on June 30th, everybody park in Labrador and then we’ll surprise them.”
Among the other big winners on the last of several nights of awards was the Jesse Owens biopic “Race,” which won four trophies, including best actor for Stephan James.
“Nothing gives me more joy than to see young people coming up to me and tell me ‘Hey, you’re Jesse,”’ he said, noting he’s thrilled to introduce them to a story they haven’t seen before.
“Eighty years later I bring this guy back to life and it’s been really the greatest honour of my career to portray him.”
CraveTV’s smalltown show “Letterkenny” was a surprise winner in the best TV comedy series category. The series also won two trophies earlier in the week.
Actress Tantoo Cardinal took home the Earle Grey Award, which honours actors for their body of work in Canadian television.
And Oscar-winning actor Christopher Plummer accepted a lifetime achievement award – in self-deprecating style.
“Quite obviously the awards committee used my name out of pity: ‘You better give it to him now before he croaks,”’ he said. “And they’re absolutely right, I mean, I’m old. Dangerously old! I’m so old that when I was a baby the first word I uttered was in Latin.
“I’ve spent almost 70 years making a fool of myself in this crazy, mad profession of ours and I’ve had the time of my life,” he continued.
“By no means is this the end, the curtain has not yet fallen. It’s simply stuck.”