This year’s Leo Awards boasts an unprecedented 9 nominees in the Best BC-made motion picture category: Ben Ratner’s film Down River, inspired by his long friendship with the late Vancouver actress Babz Chula, has 13 nominations overall; Matthew Kowalchuk’s feel-bad buddy comedy Lawrence & Holloman has 9; Jason James’s STD rom-com That Burning Feeling has 9; the Harmon family’s If I Had Wings has 7; Ana Valine’s mother-and-daughter con movie Sitting on the Edge of Marlene has 7; A. J. Bond’s dark comedy Stress Position has 7; Brent Butt’s comedic film noir No Clue has 5; Terry Miles’s Gastown drama Cinemanovels has 4; and Gil Bellows and Tony Pantages’s Hitchockian thriller 3 Days in Havana has 3. The other big nominee — but not for Best Motion Picture — is Karen Lam’s horror thriller Evangeline with 9 nominations overall.
Down River is coming off several weeks of theatrical release in Vancouver (and Toronto) and tells the story of an older woman named Pearl (Helen Shaver) who guides three younger talents — artist Aki (Ratner’s wife Jennifer Spence), rock singer Harper (Colleen Rennison) and actress Fawn (Gabrielle Miller) –who live in her West End building. When Pearl gets ill with cancer and unexpectedly leaves their lives, the three are forced to face the future on their own. Ben Ratner is nominated for directing and writing his film; Helen Shaver for her lead performance and Jennifer Spence, Colleen Rennison and Brian Markinson for supporting roles; Larry Lynn (the late Babz Shula’s husband) for cinematography; Rob Wenzek for picture editing; Josh Plaw for production design, plus three other nominations.
Adapted from a play, Lawrence & Holloman is a darkly funny, sometimes insane buddy comedy about Lawrence (Ben Cotton), a boundlessly-optimistic lewd-and-crude department store suit salesman for whom everything goes right – until he meets Holloman (Daniel Arnold), a suicidal credit collector and malcontent, and suddenly everything goes wrong. Very wrong. Matthew Kowalchuk is nominated for directing and co-writing the film adaption; Daniel Arnold and Ben Cotton for their lead performances and Katharine Isabelle for her supporting role; David Legault for picture editing; plus three other nominations.
Adam Murphy (Paulo Costanzo) is the charming womanizer with just about everything who wakes up one morning with the one thing nobody wants — That Burning Feeling. Tyler Labine is nominated for his supporting performance as the wildman neighbour (which stole the movie); Nick Citton for writing; James Liston for cinematography; Jamie Alain for picture editing; Scott Moulton for production design; plus two other nominations but not for Jason James’s directing.
If I Had Wings is a Harman family production with mother Cynde producing and father Allan directing son Richard as a blind high school track runner and daughter Jessica as his coach. Richard Harmon and Jaren Brandt Bartlett are nominated for their lead performances and Lorne Cardinal, Genevieve Buechner and Jessica Harmon for their supporting performances, plus one other nomination.
Adapted from the Billie Livingston novella, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is about teenager Sammie Bell (Paloma Kwiatkowski) drawn into the family con business by her messed-up mother Marlene (Suzanne Clément) while they wait for her father (Callum Keith Rennie) to get out of prison. Ana Valine is nominated for her directing and writing; Paloma Kwiatkowski for her lead performance; Lara Mazur and Fredrik Thorsen for picture editing, plus two other nominations.
Psych-experiment-gone-wrong Stress Position is about a bet between two friends — filmmaker A.J. Bond and actor David Amito — over who can best withstand a week of psychological torture at the hands of the other. A. J. Bond is nominated for his directing, David Amito for his lead performance and Amy Belling for her cinematography, plus three other nominations.
She’s the Damsel. He’s in Distress. No Clue is a comedic homage to film noir about a bumbler (Brent Butt) who pretends to be a hard-boiled detective so that a blonde bombshell (Amy Smart) will spend time with him. No Clue took about three years to get into production in Vancouver and filmed here in the fall of 2012 directed by Carl Bessai.
Inspired by Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors Trilogy, Cinemanovels follows Grace (Lauren Lee Smith) as she reluctantly gets to know her estranged and famous father John Laurentian after his death by agreeing to curate a restrospective of his art cinema films. It’s an anti-romance with Grace married to an oblivious investment banker (Ben Cotton) but beautifully shot on location in Gastown by the director, who also hung the lights and did craft service, joked his cast. Terry Miles is nominated for his directing and writing; and Lauren Lee Smith for her lead performance, plus one other nomination.
Shot mainly in Cuba, Gil Bellows and Tony Pantage’s Hitchockian twister 3 Days in Havana is about Jack Petty (Gil Bellows), seemingly a Canadian on a routine business trip who is befriended by charming rogue Harry Smith (Greg Wise) and introduced to untrustworthy characters like Anders (Christopher Heyerdahl) from the Canadian Consulate, mob operative Benny (Robin Dunne), Pepe (Toronto indie director Don McKellar) and intense man (Michael Eklund). At the back of it all — mob boss Francis Liddy (John Cassini) and the mysterious broker (Phyllida Law). Christopher Heyerdahl is nominated for his supporting role and Peiter Stathis for cinematography.
Also left out of Best Motion Picture nominees, sports shock jock satire The Dick Knost Show got 2 nominations: one for Bruce Sweeney’s directing and the other for Gabrielle Rose’s lead performance.
Finally, the stunning visual effects and stunts in Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium earned nominations. And chameleon actor Michael Eklund is nominated for his supporting performance in The Cell.
For a complete list click on Leo Awards Motion Picture nominations.