Made-in-Canada films expected to shine at Oscars

Pop Goes The News — For the first time in a decade, at least three films with significant Canadian ties could compete for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Many critics are predicting Spotlight (largely shot in Southern Ontario), The Revenant (mostly filmed in Alberta) and Room (made in Toronto) will be among the nominees for the top honour at the 88th Academy Awards on Feb. 28.

Another title some are expecting to see on the list is Brooklyn, which was partially shot in Montreal.

If the predictions prove accurate, it could be the most Canadian year at the Oscars since 2005 — when Crash, directed by Ontario-born Paul Haggis, beat out Manitoba-shot Capote and made-in-Alberta Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture.

Spotlight, which tells the story of the Boston Globe journalists who exposed the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, was largely made in Toronto and Hamilton at the end of 2014. Its all-star cast includes Canadian actress (and Toronto resident) Rachel McAdams.

The Revenant, from director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, was mostly filmed in late 2014 and early 2015 in Alberta and B.C. The period drama stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.

Room is a Canada-Ireland co-production (Toronto’s No Trace Camping is behind it) starring Brie Larson and Vancouver’s Jacob Tremblay that was filmed in Toronto in late 2014. In addition to critical acclaim, the drama earned audience awards at film festivals in Toronto and Vancouver.

Brooklyn is a Canada-Ireland-UK production (Montreal’s Item 7 is a producer) based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín. Although primarily filmed in Ireland, four weeks of production took place in the summer of 2014 in Montreal. Homegrown actress Jessica Paré and Vancouver-born Emily Bett Rickards are in the cast.

Room would be the first movie made entirely in Canada to win Best Picture since Chicago in 2003. Rob Marshall’s big screen adaptation of the stage musical, starring Richard Gere, Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was made in Toronto and earned a total of six Oscars.

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Of course, films with Canadian connections regularly show up in the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards — and not just because they have Canadian stars.

Visual effects for this year’s Best Picture winner Birdman were done by Montreal’s Rodeo FX. The company’s work included making it look like the movie was shot in one continuous take.

In 2012, Life of Pi was in the running for Best Picture. In addition to being based on the novel by Canadian Yann Martel, parts of the film were made in Montreal and some of the visual effects were completed by Vancouver’s R&H.

In 2009, Ontario-born James Cameron and Montreal native Jason Reitman each had films up for the top prize — Avatar and Up in the Air respectively.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, was nominated for Best Picture in 2008. The Paris-set scenes had been shot in Old Montreal.

A year earlier, Reitman’s B.C.-shot film Juno, starring Canadians Ellen Page and Michael Cera, was nominated for Best Picture.

Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, partly shot in Montreal, had a Best Picture nomination in 2004.

At the Oscars in 1997, Good Will Hunting — largely shot in Toronto — lost to Cameron’s Titanic (which had a handful of scenes filmed in Halifax).

Peter Knegt of Indiewire, for one, believes Canadian-made films will dominate other major categories this year. He predicts Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant) and Lenny Abrahamsson (Room) will be among the Best Director nominees.

Acting nods, Knegt guesses, will go to DiCaprio and Hardy (The Revenant), Larson and Tremblay (Room), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) and Michael Keaton (Spotlight).

Tremblay, who will be 9 years and 101 days old when nominations are announced on Jan. 14, will be the second-youngest Best Supporting Actor nominee in Academy history, behind Kramer vs. Kramer co-star Justin Henry (1980). He will also be the third-youngest nominee in any acting category, behind Henry and Jackie Cooper (a Best Actor nominee in 1931 for Skippy).

Tremblay will also be the first Canadian supporting acting nominee since Christopher Plummer (who won in 2011) and only the third since 1990 (when Graham Greene earned a nod for Dances With Wolves).