Sure, there were some big winners at the final night of the Canadian Screen Awards (CSAs), with the sci-fi thriller Orphan Black, sprinter bio pic Race and the Xavier Dolan-directed It’s Only the End of the World taking home trophy after trophy.
But it was the handful of heartfelt speeches that made for the most memorable moments during Sunday’s gala in Toronto, hosted by Howie Mandel.
Like Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s acceptance speech. The Kim’s Convenience star nabbed best actor in a comedic role and he sure was proud.
“Yeah, I deserved,” he joked in character as Appa, the moment he got up to the mic.
He then took a big sigh, dropping Appa’s accent, and told the crowd he was “living in a dream.” Lee introduced himself as an immigrant and stressed how important shows and characters like Kim’s are given the current political climate.
“We might have some cultural differences but deep down inside when it comes to family, we are all the same,” he said, moving some of his castmates to tears. “I’ve never been more proud to be a Canadian than right now.”
All this came after Tatiana Maslany’s back-to-back wins for her work in Orphan Black and The Other Half, where she was the one holding back tears and Adrian Holmes’s moving tribute to “all minorities,” which ran overtime and had him yelling over the play-him-off band (he won best actor in a dramatic role for 19-2).
It was a theme that ran throughout the evening — winners were surprised, overwhelmed or emotional, sometimes a mix of the three.
“This has been, without a doubt, the most f—–g surreal day of my life,” Lee told reporters backstage post-win.
Mandel channels Oscars skits
Sunday’s gala marked the end of the CSAs, an exhaustive week-long celebration of Canadian film, television and digital media, put on by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
Mandel kept spirits high as host however, spending a large chunk of the televised two-hour show out in the crowd, playfully interacting with the performers. There were shades of past Oscars skits as Mandel also gabbed with non-stars, from a woman sitting in the crowd to a trombonist in the pit band.
At one point, he handed out a birthday card for the crowd to sign to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.
Dolan’s film raked in the most trophies of the evening — six for best film, adapted screenplay, directing, make-up, cinematography and acting — but the Quebec director couldn’t make it, awkwardly sending a surrogate in his place to read prepared remarks off a smart phone.
Between the televised gala and non-televised pre-show awards which started the evening, CBC picked up eight trophies for its shows and documentaries including Murdoch Mysteries, Schitt’s Creek, the Rio Olympic coverage and last summer’s broadcast of the Tragically Hip show in Kingston. Among the night’s big winners:
- Best motion picture: It’s Only the End of the World.
- Best comedy series: Letterkenny.
- Best dramatic series: Orphan Black.
- Fan choice award: Natasha Negovanlis.
- Earle Grey award: Tantoo Cardinal.
- Best actor in a leading role: Stephan James, Race.
- Best actress in a leading role: Tatiana Maslany, The Other Half.
- Best first feature film: Johnny Ma, Old Stone.
- Best actress in a comedic role: Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek.
‘The curtain has not yet fallen’
Even though the show ended up running a few minutes overtime, there was a quick clip to it. And while sometimes speeches from the pre-announced speciality award winners can drag on, Sunday’s were among the night’s most entertaining.
Superstar American comedian Dave Chappelle was on hand to present the Icon Award to Gilbert Rozon and Bruce Hills of Montreal’s Just for Laughs. In true comedic fashion, all three dabbled in a bit of standup on stage.
Chappelle riffed on the differences between his home and Canada, calling Canada “kinder and gentler, like a little gay brother that I didn’t know we had.”
Veteran Canadian actor and Oscar winner Christopher Plummer also had quite a few quips, making fun of his age while accepting his lifetime achievement award.
“I’m old. Dangerously old. I’m so old that when I was a baby, the first word I uttered was in Latin,” the 87-year-old said to huge laughs. “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.”
To close, Plummer told the crowd that though he’s old, he’s not done yet.
“The curtain has not yet fallen. It’s simply stuck.”