Monsieur Lazhar the Toast of Canuck Cinema

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Monsieur Lazhar the Toast of Canuck Cinema

Philippe Falardeu's heartwarming humanist drama claimed six trophies at the 32nd annual Genie Awards, including Best Picture.

Philippe Falardeau and Viggo Mortensen pose with their Genies. And Viggo's Habs flag. Image courtesy of ACCT.

Confounding the adage that cinema’s annual awards season ends with the Oscars, the 32nd Genie Awards ceremony took place at Toronto’s Westin Harbour Castle last night, where Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar emerged as the evening’s big winner. The French-language drama claimed six trophies in total, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing.

Contrary to their Hollywood counterparts, handicapping the Genies isn’t a celebrated Las Vegas tradition, but the signs were promising for Falardeau’s film in the build-up to last night’s ceremony. Monsieur Lazhar was previously named Best Canadian Feature at the TIFF awards brunch in September, and also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Speaking to the assembled media after collecting his awards, Falardeau quipped that the Oscars had been good general practice for the Genies. He’d been tempted, he said, to recycle the Oscar speech that he’d prepared but never got to use.

Instead, he offered gracious support to his Canadian cohorts: “I would like to share this with all my fellow filmmakers across Canada who are struggling to make personal films. I want to say to them: be persistent, be wild, be bold, be a little delinquent. Take this and something good is bound to happen.” He later affirmed his solidarity with filmmakers nationwide, deflecting attention from Quebec’s recent monopoly on the Genie’s top prizes. (Denis Villeneuve won back-to-back Best Picture awards for Incendies and Polythechnique in 2011 and 2010, respectively.)

Monsieur Lazhar‘s near-sweep of the major award categories included a Best Actor win for Algerian humourist Mohamed Fellag, who plays the eponymous middle school teacher, and a Best Supporting Actress nod for 11-year-old Sophie Nélisse, in recognition of her precocious debut turn.

The Best Supporting Actor award, meanwhile, went to frequent David Cronenberg collaborator Viggo Mortensen for his portrayal of Sigmund Freud in A Dangerous Method. In one of the night’s more memorable acceptance speeches, the American actor dedicated his award to the Montreal Canadiens, and ignored his cue to leave the stage. The boyhood Habs supporter hung around to stick it to Leafs fans, dutifully wrapping his trophy in a Canadiens flag.

The other major acting award went to French actress and model Vanessa Paradis for her lead performance in Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de Flore, though neither she nor Fellag were in attendance to claim their trophies.

Vallée’s stylish drama was an early Genies front-runner thanks to its 13 nominations, but in the end, it took home just three awards, including Paradis’ prize. (It also won for visual effects and makeup.) David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method claimed a total of five Genies from its 11 nominations, including Best Original Score, Overall Sound, Sound Editing, and Art Direction.

A full list of the night’s winners is below.

  • Best Picture: Luc Déry, Kim McCraw, Monsieur Lazhar.
  • Best Director: Philippe Falardeau, Monsieur Lazhar.
  • Best Actor: Mohamed Fellag, Monsieur Lazhar.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method.
  • Best Actress: Vanessa Paradis, Café de Flore.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Sophie Nélisse, Monsieur Lazhar.
  • Best Original Screenplay: Ken Scott, Martin Petit, Starbuck.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Philippe Falardeau, Monsieur Lazhar.
  • Best Feature-Length Documentary: Lucie Lambert, Isabelle Lavigne, Stéphane Thibault, At Night, They Dance.
  • Best Art Direction: James McAteer, A Dangerous Method.
  • Best Cinematography: Jean-François Lord, Snow & Ashes.
  • Best Costume Design: Marie-Chantalle Vaillancourt, Funkytown.
  • Best Editing: Stéphane Lafleur, Monsier Lazhar.
  • Best Make-Up: Christiane Fattori, Frédéric Marin, Café de Flore.
  • Best Original Score: Howard Shore, A Dangerous Method.
  • Best Original Song: Carole Facal, “Quelque part,” Starbuck.
  • Best Overall Sound: Orest Sushko, Christian Cooke, Jack Heeren, Reinhard Stergar, Don White, A Dangerous Method.
  • Best Sound Editing: Wayne Griffin, Rob Bertola, Tony Currie, Alastair Gray, Andy Malcolm, Michael O’Farrell, A Dangerous Method.
  • Best Visual Effects: Marc Côté, Stéphanie Broussard, Gary Chuntz, Vincent Dudouet, Cynthia Mourou, Eric Normandin, Martin Pensa, Luc Sanafaçon, Sylvain Théroux, Nathalie Tremblay, Café de Flore.
  • Best Short Documentary: Zacharias Kunuk, Joel McConvey, Kristina McLaughlin, Kevin McMahon, Michael McMahon, Geoff Morrisson, Ryan J. Noth, Sirmilik.
  • Best Live Action Short: Ian Harnarine, Ryan Silbert, Doubles with Slight Pepper.
  • Best Animated Short: Georges Schwizgebel, René Chénier, Marc Bertrand, Romance.
  • Calude Jutra Award: Anne Émond, Nuit #1.
  • Golden Reel Award: Starbuck.

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