Oscars primer: Your guide to the 88th Academy Awards

Pop Goes The News — Hollywood celebrates itself Sunday night at the 88th Academy Awards — and Canadian viewers have extra reasons to tune in this year.

This year’s Academy Awards are easily the most Canadian since 2005,  when Crash, directed by Ontario-born Paul Haggis, beat out Manitoba-shot Capote and made-in-Alberta Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture.

Four of the eight films vying for the night’s top prize were made in Canada and two of them are Canadian co-productions. Favoured to win Best Picture is The Revenant, which was mostly shot in B.C. and Alberta with dozens of Canadians in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

Ontario’s Rachel McAdams is nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Spotlight) but won’t win. Also not expected to win is The Weeknd, who will perform the nominated song “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” during the show. (If the song wins, The Weeknd shares the prize with his three fellow Canadian songwriters.)

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a Toronto resident and dual citizen of Canada and Pakistan, is favoured to win Best Documentary Short for her film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness. It will be her second Oscar — she won in 2012 for Saving Face.

MORE: Canada shines at this year’s Academy Awards

Presenters at this year’s ceremony include Canadians Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams and Jacob Tremblay as well as Priyanka Chopra, who lives in Montreal while shooting Quantico.

Want to impress your friends and family with your Oscar knowledge? Here’s some trivia to get you ready for the 88th Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock.


• The original Academy Awards statuette was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons in 1928 and sculpted by George Stanley in 1929. It wasn’t named Oscar until a decade later.

• The Oscar statuette weighs about 9 lbs. It’s made of bronze plated with 24-karat gold atop a base of black enamelled bronze.

• Prior to this year, 3,093 Oscars had been handed out. The first Best Picture winner was Wings in 1929.

The Revenant leads with 12 nominations, followed by 10 for Mad Max: Fury Road and seven for The Martian.

• In Oscars history, 21 films with titles starting with the word “the” have won Best Picture. This year, three nominated films have “the” at the beginning of their titles.

• The eight Best Picture nominees have, to date, grossed a combined $1.8 billion at the box office worldwide. The top-grossing film in the category is The Martian ($620 million) and the lowest-grossing is Room ($22 million).

• Half of the films nominated for Best Picture were filmed — either entirely or predominantly — in Canada: Brooklyn (Quebec), Room (Toronto), The Revenant (Alberta & B.C.) Spotlight (Ontario).

• The last made-in-Canada film to win Best Picture was Chicago in 2003. It was shot entirely in and around Toronto.

• Two of the Best Picture nominees are Canadian co-productions: Brooklyn (with UK and Ireland) and Room (with Ireland).


Spotlight is the 18th journalism-themed movie to earn a Best Picture nomination. It won five awards, including Best Feature, at the Spirit Awards on Feb. 27.

• First-time Oscar winners on Sunday night will likely include Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s had five nominations during his career) and Sylvester Stallone (nominated twice).

• Nominated couples this year include George Miller (Best Director) and wife Margaret Sixel (Film Editing); and Michael Fassbender (Best Actor) and girlfriend Alicia Vikander (Best Actress). It’s a good bet the female halves of these couple will win.

• Canadians nominated for Oscars this year include: Rachel McAdams (Best Supporting Actress, Spotlight), Hamish Purdy (Best Production Design, The Revenant), Cameron Waldbauer (Best Visual Effects, The Revenant), Chris Duesterdiek (Best Sound Mixing, The Revenant), Robert Pandini (Best Makeup and Hair Styling, The Revenant), and Paul Massey (Best Sound Mixing, The Martian).

• Emma Donoghue, nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Room), was born in Dublin but moved to Canada in 1998 and became a Canadian citizen in 2004. She lives in London, Ont. with her partner Christine Roulston — a professor at the University of Western Ontario — and their children Finn and Una. Donoghue wrote the screenplay for Room based on her 2010 novel of the same name.

• Donoghue won Best First Screenplay at the Spirit Awards on Feb. 27. It was presented by the Canadian star of Room, Jacob Tremblay.

• If “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” wins Best Song, the award will go to four Canadian songwriters: Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd), Ahmad Balshe (aka Belly), Jason Quenneville, and Stephan Moccio.

• Three Canadians are nominated for their short films: Adam Benzine (Best Documentary Short, Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (Best Documentary Short, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness), and Richard William (Best Animated Short, Prologue).

• The Best Picture award is presented to a film’s producers, so in the unlikely event Brooklyn wins, Canadians Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin will get Oscars.

• In Brooklyn, the boarding house that takes in Saoirse Ronan’s character Eilis is actually the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity at McGill University.

Sicario, directed by Quebec’s Denis Villeneuve, has three nominations: Best Cinematography, Sound Editing and Original Score.

• The cinematographer for Brooklyn is Montreal’s Yves Bélanger, who previously worked for director Jean-Marc Vallée on Wild and Dallas Buyers Club.


• Glenn Ennis is the Vancouver stuntman who stood in for the CGI grizzly bear in the scene with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. It was shot in a remote forest outside Squamish, B.C. The bear, inspired by Coola and Grinder at Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain wildlife sanctuary, was designed on computers  by a team that includes Canada’s Cameron Waldbauer and Montreal’s Nicolas Chevallier.

• There are Canadians in at least half of the films up for Best Picture: BC’s Jacob Tremblay (Room), Ontario’s Ryan Gosling (The Big Short) and Ontario’s Rachel McAdams (Spotlight). Several Canadians appear in The Revenant, including B.C.’s Duane Howard (Elk Dog) and NWT resident Melaw Nakehk’o (Powaqa).

• The diner scene in Spotlight with Mark Ruffalo and Stanley Tucci was filmed inside the Golden Diner on Carlton Street at Jarvis Street. It’s in the basement of Toronto’s largest gay bathhouse.