'Orphan Black,' 'Gabrielle' big winners at Canadian Screen Awards
This image released by BBC America shows Tatiana Maslany in a scene from 'Orphan Black.' The sci-fi serial heads into this weekend's Canadian Screen Awards with a leading eight trophies already under its belt. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / AP, BBC America, Steve Wilkie)
Cassandra Szlarski, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, March 9, 2014 9:28AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 9, 2014 10:34PM EDT
TORONTO -- The dark sci-fi series "Orphan Black" cast a large shadow over the Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday, dominating the bash as it claimed the night's top TV prizes and cemented the ascendency of star Tatiana Maslany as one of Canada's biggest luminaries.
The Space show was named best TV drama while Maslany was crowned best TV drama actress. That was on top of eight awards the show collected at an earlier non-televised bash, which included acting prizes for supporting actor Jordan Gavaris, supporting actress Maria Doyle Kennedy and guest performer Natalie Lisinska.
On the film side, the music-filled coming-of-age film "Gabrielle" was named best feature film, with its ebullient star Gabrielle Marion-Rivard earning best film actress. Denis Villeneuve's surreal mind-bender "Enemy" topped the film tally with five trophies, including best director for Villeneuve.
An emotional Maslany was among the first to take the podium to claim an acting prize for her chameleon-like turns as several cloned characters in the serialized smash.
The Regina-bred actress thanked the Space show's creators for giving her "this incredible opportunity" as well as her co-stars, producers, crew and family for "letting me do this weird job."
"Thank you so much, this is such an honour, thank you," said a breathless Maslany, dressed in a gold and black gown.
Backstage, she marvelled at the show's critical success, which saw it beat out more conventional dramas including APTN's "Blackstone," Global's "Bomb Girls," and the two CTV series "Flashpoint" and "Motive."
"By no way did we expect this tidal wave of love," Maslany said. "It's just an honour to work on a piece like this that I care so much about."
Show host Martin Short launched proceedings with a slew of Rob Ford jokes, barbs at homegrown stars David Cronenberg and George Stroumboulopoulos and a saucy song in which he propositioned a slew of starlets in the audience.
The sharp-tongued comic said he was thrilled to be MC'ing for a second year in a row, noting he was especially glad to be back in Toronto "since you legalized crack" -- a not-so-veiled reference to the well-documented woes of Toronto's mayor.
Short kept the chuckles flowing from a star-studded audience including film star Jay Baruchel, TV veteran Jason Priestley and matinee idol Viggo Mortensen, praising the combined film and TV gala for allowing small screen stars to "see what real arrogance looks like."
Marion-Rivard provided one of the most jubilant acceptance speeches of the night when she collected a trophy for her turn as a musically inclined woman with Williams' syndrome striving for independence from her family.
"Oh my gosh I'm so very happy," gushed Marion-Rivard, who has Williams syndrome, clad in a long violet gown with sliver beaded cap sleeves.
"And, I love you Canada!"
Priestley's raunchy specialty series "Call Me Fitz" was named best TV comedy while Priestley won best comedy actor for his take on a lascivious used car salesman. Backstage, the former "90210" heartthrob called his vulgar alter-ego "such a beautifully flawed character."
"I fought very hard for (this role) because I had to, given the baggage that I've had to carry in my career," he noted.
"Being an all-American nice guy, I wasn't obviously the first choice to play a character like Richard Fitzpatrick so I had to go in and fight for the role and luckily for me I was able to fight hard enough to win the role."
Villeneuve's film "Enemy" had led the film contenders with 10 nominations including best picture and best director for Villeneuve. Early in the night, he said he wasn't expecting so much attention, but welcomed the publicity push as his Toronto-set mystery prepared for release.
"It's quite a surprise for me," Villeneuve said while walking the red carpet as he discussed the multiple noms for his surreal mind-bender, which hits theatres in Canada and the U.S. on Friday.
"I didn't know the movie would be eligible, that they would allow my movie to be part of this year's awards. I thought it would be for next year because the movie is going to be released in a week but at the same time the timing is a bit stunning. It's perfect timing because now there's a lot of press on the film."
The best picture race was especially packed with a whopping eight nominees, including: Sebastien Pilote's "Le Demantelement" (The Auction), Peter Stebbings's "Empire of Dirt," Michael Dowse's "The F Word," Louise Archambault's "Gabrielle," Don McKellar's "The Grand Seduction," Michel Poulette's "Maina," and Xavier Dolan's "Tom at the Farm."
Villeneuve notes the list includes a healthy Quebec contingent, and said he was glad to be among pals.
"They are not rivals, they are friends," he said, singling out Archambault as an especially close colleague.
"Louise Archambault is a very close friend of mine. I love her, I love her film, I was deeply touched by 'Gabrielle' and I wish her all the best."
Maslany was a rare performer to compete for acting prizes in both TV and film categories. Her nominated performance in the upcoming road movie "Cas & Dylan" was directed by Priestley, who gushed over her success.
"She's an incredible talent and I feel very fortunate to have had her in my film," Priestley said on the red carpet.
"We actually had to push production on the film so she could do her screen test for 'Orphan Black.' We were right there with her when she got the news that she actually got the role on that show that has been so transformative in her career, in her life."
The nominations cap a remarkable first season for the Space smash "Orphan Black," which has made an international star out of the 28-year-old.
Maslany has played seven clones with vastly different personalities and accents on the dark serial, which airs on BBC America in the United States.
The feat earned her a best actress nomination at January's Golden Globe Awards where she rubbed shoulders with Hollywood celebs including show co-host Amy Poehler.
Season 2 of "Orphan Black" debuts April 19 on Space.
Trophies handed out in a pre-telecast gala included several technical awards for "The Mortal Instruments," including best overall sound, sound editing, visual effects and makeup.
The best film actor prize went to Gabriel Arcand for "Le Demantelement" (The Auction). Arcand beat out international rivals including U.S. actor Jake Gyllenhaal of "Enemy," Brit star Daniel Radcliffe for "The F Word," Ireland's Brendan Gleeson for "The Grand Seduction" and India's Rajesh Tailang for "Siddharth."