From a jazzy Ryan Gosling, to a Montreal team behind “Arrival,” and a trio of homegrown animators, there’s a healthy dose of Canuck amongst this year’s Oscar nominees.
Here are five Canadian bullet points for Sunday’s show, which will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel on ABC and CTV:
GA-GA FOR GOSLING
Awards shows have been showering the London, Ont., native with nominations for his “La La Land” role as a jazz pianist who falls in love with a fledgling actress, played by Emma Stone. The former “Mickey Mouse Club” star has already won a Golden Globe for the part and is up for an Oscar for best actor. It’s his second such Oscar nomination after 2006’s “Half Nelson,” in which he played a high school teacher with a drug addiction.
Fun fact: Gosling found inspiration in the musicals “Top Hat” starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (“I like Fred’s style. He’s very mischievous,” he said) and “An American in Paris,” which he called “very experimental and yet it doesn’t feel pretentious.”
DENIS VILLENEUVE HAS ARRIVED
Hollywood is hot for the talents of this French-Canadian gem, who is nominated for best director for his heady alien-invasion drama “Arrival.” It’s his second Oscars ride after his 2010 drama “Incendies” was nominated for best foreign-language film. The Quebec filmmaker has had a string of high-profile projects in recent years, including “Prisoners,” “Enemy” and “Sicario.” His next film is a whopper: the hugely anticipated “Blade Runner 2049,” starring Gosling.
Fun fact: Villeneuve has dreamed of doing science fiction since childhood, when he read European sci-fi comic books. “I was raised with dreaming about space all my childhood,” he said. “I’m part of the ‘Star Wars’ generation.”
“ARRIVAL”‘s MONTREAL MOMENTUM
Several other Montrealers who worked on “Arrival” are also up for Oscars. They include sound editor Sylvain Bellemare production designer Patrice Vermette and decorator Paul Hotte and sound mixers Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye.
Fun fact: Bellemare found inspiration for the sound of the heptapod aliens in Pink Floyd’s music and a melange of animals. “We tried to do something that … was more based on instinct and rhythm,” he said.
HIGH HOPES FOR ANIMATED SHORTS
Three of the five titles nominated in the best animated short category have Canadian ties. “Blind Vaysha” is by Montreal’s Theodore Ushev and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. “Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” produced by Cara Speller, is directed by Robert Valley of Vancouver. And the Pixar-produced “Piper” is helmed by Alan Barillaro of Chippawa, Ont.
Fun fact: When Ushev heard of his nomination, he fainted, overwhelmed by pent-up emotions from the campaign. “A lot of people were telling me, ‘You have a chance, you have a chance,’ and when a lot of people tell you this you just get nervous,” he said. “I had to do a lot of yoga and sports to tame the pressure.”
FIRST NOD FOR “13TH” PRODUCER
Winnipeg-born producer Howard Barish has his first Oscar nomination for the documentary “13th,” which looks at the criminalization and mass incarceration of African Americans in the U.S. He shares the nomination with filmmaker Ava DuVernay and her co-writer, Spencer Averick.
Fun fact: Barish first met DuVernay a decade ago and also had producer roles on her 2010 debut “I Will Follow” and her 2012 film “Middle of Nowhere.” Working on her first two films inspired him to focus on “giving back.” “My current projects revolve around producing small independent features which will embrace emerging talent and first time directors,” he said.
– Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
— with files from David Friend.