02 October 2013
Here we go, guys. It is Finally time for The Winners! Those patient few of you who’ve stuck with us since January’s announcement of the 2012 nominees, through our epic 50+ piece Nominee Interview Series– the wait is finally over.
Through a combination of popular vote and staff picks, we’ve found a list of winners for you. And we’re starting the rollout Right. Now.
First up are the My Cinema Awards. Then My Games, My TV and My Theatre followed by the Fan Favourites, Honorary Award Winners, Emerging Artists, and Performers of the Year.
So let’s get this started. First, here are the nominees again:
And Now- Here Are Your WINNNERS! (click on the individual branch links or scroll down to read the full list)
Best Actor in a Drama
Philip Seymour Hoffman (A Late Quartet)
A late and under-the-radar entry into the year’s Best Actor field, PSH’s beautifully human performance as a sentimental violinist relegated to perpetual second chair status tapped into our emotional core more than any of the higher profile contenders (including his own scene-stealing performance in The Master).
Best Actor in a Comedy
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
We’ve loved Bradley Cooper from his very first appearance in the brilliant Alias pilot in 2001. We’ve believed in him as a truly great actor, despite being pigeon-holed as a Hollywood hunk. Awesome Cooper-starring properties like Kitchen Confidential disappeared faster than lightning and douchebag roles in films like Wedding Crashers and the (actually surreptitiously sweet) Hangover took over his narrative seemingly insurmountably, topped off with a controversial Sexiest Man Alive win over fan favourite Ryan Gosling. Then came Silver Linings Playbook. While the film itself is a tad overrated and mostly pushed through by the power of Weinstein, it will live forever in our hearts as the movie that made people sit up and finally notice how truly funny and smart and brilliant Bradley Cooper is as an actor. An honest-to-god actor, not just a movie star. He’s heartbreaking and affecting and just so very whole as the troubled Pat, flying far past what even his biggest fans (aka us) knew he was capable of. Best Actor in a Comedy was an outstanding field of hilarious, heartfelt and evocative performances this year (the toughest competition of 2012 by far) but Bradley Cooper’s been overdue for the sort of praise Silver Linings Playbook is finally, and rightly, bringing him.
Best Actress in a Drama
Emily Blunt (Your Sister’s Sister)
The My Cinema Award nominations this year celebrate four spectacular women who’ve each been nominated in two different categories for their work. Two of them are actor-screenwriters (more on them in a moment), the others are nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for two different films. Ari Graynor is up for two comedies and Emily Blunt for two dramas, the least flashy of which has earned her our Best Actress award. Blunt was splendid in Looper, giving a lynchpin performance in a great film and all but disappearing into a role unlike anything she’d played before. But it was Your Sister’s Sister that moved her up immeasurably in our estimation. Lynn Shelton’s mostly improvised film is a beautiful, simple, devastatingly honest character portrait carried on the shoulders of three great actors, our favourite of whom was Blunt as the quietly complex Iris. Her daring improv and emotional vulnerability is simply inarguable in one of the year’s best indie films.
Best Actress in a Comedy
Rashida Jones (Celeste & Jesse Forever)
One of the aforementioned actor-screenwriters, Rashida Jones’ My Cinema Award-nominated script for Celeste & Jesse Forever is something special, a brutal deconstruction of modern mundane romantic tragedy told with great heart and fantastically smart comedy. It came close to being our favourite script of the year, but came up just short. She was, however, our favourite actress in a comedy, portraying the amusing and heartbreaking conflict within the fantastically complex character that she created. Sharing the screen with Andy Samberg in a breakout role for him, Jones was the emotional anchor of the film, making Celeste at once one of the most relatable and frustrating and lovable characters of the year.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
The Hunger Games is a spectacularly well-cast franchise. It snagged the perfect Katniss before she skyrocketed to the title of Most Beloved Person in The World and won an Oscar, it boldly entrusted fan-favourite characters to strange but brilliant casting choices like Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. But possibly the best casting move made by the Hunger Games braintrust was Woody Harrelson as Katniss’ haunted but heartfelt mentor Haymitch. The man is perhaps one of the most unexpectedly genius performers ever to come out of a fairly silly sitcom role. He was mesmerizing in Game Change (stay tuned to see if he wins the My TV Award for that one) and the perfect combination of enigmatic, aggravating, wise, harsh, supportive and pitiful as one of the famous book series’ most fascinating characters. The fact that we get to watch him grow the character through another 2 or 3 films is just the icing on the cake.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
A major breakout performance in the so-so adaptation of the novel of the same name. The confident and soulful Patrick is a standout character in the book- and a seminal gay teen character in American popular culture- but Ezra Miller brought nothing short of magic to the role, making it one of the greatest of the 2012 film season. This kid should be a big, big, big deal and deserves to steal scenes in films far better than this one.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
We try and stay away from rewarding the same people as every other set of yearly awards. There’s this peculiar phenomenon that happens within the entertainment industry where a small group of influential people- be they critics, awards voters, festival juries, whathaveyou- become the tastemakers who determine the good and bad of an entire season. That’s how you get Emmy categories with five nominees from one show and Oscar telecasts so predictable that my father routinely wins our annual pool. Great work often falls through the cracks in a paradigm like this, so we try our hardest to highlight things that we simply thought were amazing without an ear to the critical ramblings and awards campaigns buzzing around us. Sometimes that means that we give Best Actress to Emily Blunt for a film that barely grossed 1.5 million, sometimes it means that we point out the depth of Woody Harrelson’s work in a YA blockbuster no awards show but the Teen Choice Awards would look twice at. But sometimes it means that we end up on the same train as everyone else by sheer coincidence and the power of a particular performance. Anne Hathaway in the most legendary turn of the year gave such a performance. We went in skeptical, but her soul-barring Fantine deserved every single trophy it received. Including this one.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect)
Pitch Perfect was a fun film. It wasn’t perfect but it was one of the most purely entertaining properties of the year. There are two principal reasons for that (beyond the adorableness of its leading man): the soundtrack and a supporting character who calls herself Fat Amy “so you twig bitches won’t do it behind my back”. 100% of Pitch Perfect‘s great lines belong to Fat Amy and it’s Rebel Wilson’s spot-on delivery of such gems as “not a good enough reason to use the word penetrate” that made the film as good as it is.
Downey. Gregg. Johansson. Hemsworth. Evans. Renner. Ruffalo. Smulders. Hiddleston… and some guy called Jackson. Enough said.
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Take our explanation for why Anne Hathaway won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. Blend with a dash of our explanation for why Bradley Cooper won Best Actor in a Comedy. Add an epic Oscar snub rooted in pretention and punishment for past personal and career choices. What do you get? Ben Affleck winning this year’s My Cinema Award for Best Director. Because Argo was amazing. And it was particularly amazing because of how particularly well directed it was. Go Ben!
Zoe Kazan (Ruby Sparks)
We’ve written so much about why Zoe Kazan’s screenplay for Ruby Sparks is one of the most artistically and intellectually inspiring pieces of writing produced in quite some time. It’s timely and beautiful, hilarious and heartbreaking, smart but enjoyable, bright but deep. There were a ton of fantastic screenplays this year and if we had more awards to give out we surely would honour Derek Connolly, Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Rian Johnson and so many more fantastic writers for a truly stellar year in creative storytelling. But, alas, we had to pick but one so we went with the one we couldn’t get out of our heads.
2012 had superheroes and aliens, monsters, tigers and hobbits (oh my!) but nothing scared us quite as much as The Impossible‘s realistic recreation of the devastating 2004 tsunami that hit South-East Asia and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In a beautifully told but sentimental story about the reunion of a family the audience knows will live to tell their story, the terrifying realism of the special effects became the key to raising the stakes. And boy were they raised. From the larger-than-life waves themselves to the brilliant tank work that stranded fantastic newcomer Tom Holland amidst floating debris and dangerous tides, the movie magic of The Impossible was refreshingly next-to-impossible to detect (a rarity in a CGI-saturated world).
Best Costumes, Hair and/or Makeup
This year’s Costumes, Hair and Makeup nominees transported movie-goers to the past (Les Miserables, Lincoln), the future (The Hunger Games), and worlds straight out of the imagination (Mirror Mirror, The Hobbit). But only one film did all of those things. The Costumes, Hair and Makeup ambitions of Cloud Atlas were beyond compare but the effectiveness with which such feats were pulled off was nothing short of astounding. Now that Halle Berry has successfully been transformed into a one-eyed Asian man, the limits of a single actress’s potential have expanded pretty much endlessly.
How to Survive a Plague
This documentary about the early fight against AIDS in New York City tells its story using mostly original footage from the 80s that follows an assemblage of heroes of both the likely and unlikely variety in their quest for governmental recognition and medical attention. The characters are mostly young men, most of them infected with the virus by the time they introduce themselves in archival interviews. A fair amount of the film is actually fairly dry. It’s an interesting historical and medical study, an exploration of late 20th century activism and an anthropological observation of both the struggle to organize and the human capacity for tragic ambivalence. The Queen of Versailles would be our winner if we were judging purely on the level of engagement we had with the material from start to end (How to Survive a Plague, though massively important, tells a story further removed from current consciousness and one that exists in other forms, most notably the wonderful play The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer- an activist who appears in the documentary). But there’s a moment near the end of this film that tapped into our emotions more profoundly than anything else we saw all year. The film mixes modern interviews with archival footage throughout but it wasn’t until the moment our favourite character revealed that he doubted he would live to see the cure for AIDS that it hit us that these eloquent and passionate characters we’d been rooting for had never been shown in modern interviews. We were watching these people, some of who were fighting their last fight. The sequence where the filmmakers reveal who did indeed survive the plague- and who didn’t- tore us up into little bits and there was no way The Queen of Versailles was winning Best Documentary, no matter how surprisingly poignant it was.
There are tons of reasons why this was the Best Drama of the year. It was entertaining, thrilling, terrifying, poignant, timely, witty, daring and simply beautifully executed. It’s tonally one of the most precise films in recent history with superb pacing and high-calibre acting to match across the board. It blended genres seamlessly and smartly carved out the most cinematic elements of a thrilling true story. Perhaps it over-emphasized the CIA involvement and made a hell of a lot of Canadians angry. But, you know what? It’s a lot easier to make a Canadian angry than you’d think. And a little righteous anger only makes a good film look more important.
Zoe Kazan’s script, that’s why this film won Best Comedy even in a category stacked with films that were not only the best of 2012 but could easily have taken down great fare from previous years. But if Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris had directed with anything less than sharp wit and sweeping romanticism, the film might have been beaten out by the similarly beautiful-meets-hilarious-meets-heartbreaking Celeste & Jesse Forever. Or if the supporting cast was populated by anyone less than Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Aasif Mandvi, Steve Coogan, Alia Shawkat, Elliott Gould and the great Chris Messina. Or if the leads weren’t the enthralling combination of real-life couple Kazan and Paul Dano (one of the great underrated talents of his generation in a part literally written for him). If any of the amazing pieces that make up Ruby Sparks was somehow missing, it would still be great, but it wouldn’t be the best comedy in the best year for comedy in quite some time. But, thankfully, it is.
Best Action, Horror, or Kids Film
The Hunger Games
Here’s a film that did something that almost no film can do- improve on a beloved book series. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is an enrapturing and groundbreaking dystopian tale at risk of being dumbed down or sanitized when adapted for Hollywood. Instead, co-writer/director Gary Ross approached the material with utmost care. Care, not reverence, because The Hunger Games needed to be adapted. The first person narrative and heavy exposition of the book couldn’t be translated directly onto film. It just wouldn’t work. There needed to be additions, subtractions, Seneca Crane needed to be a real character instead of a barely-there symbol. So that’s what Ross did. And it took guts. And brains. And heart. And basically all the parts. And it turned out brilliantly. With Jennifer Lawrence in the absolute perfect role for her presence and a supporting cast as thrilling as the Harrelson-Banks-Tucci-Bentley-Sutherland-Hemsworth situation, there’s almost nothing wrong with the film version of the trilogy’s fantastic first book (well, Peeta could use a little work, but you can’t have everything). There were some great and diverse films nominated in this strange trifecta category but we (and the popular vote- My Cinema doesn’t get nearly as many votes as My TV or My Theatre but you guys did turn out to support The Hunger Games) say The Hunger Games reigns supreme.
Most Anticipated Game
Starcraft II Heart of the Swarm (Blizzard)
Not only did the advertisements refuse to let me forget that this was coming out, it delivered when we finally got to play it. I’ve never been happier to have my rear end handed to me.
Mod of the Year
“DayZ Mod” for ARMA2
Forget what I said about my rear end being handed to me, this game handed me limbs, as another player with the slightest advantage randomized by face with a zombie. This might be the most stressful zombie game I’ve played. Death is permanent, and everywhere.
Best Indie Game
Super Hexagon (Terry Cavanagh)
I am usually a sucker for great stories. This game tells the thrilling saga of a triangle escaping from ever encroaching hexagon shaped lines. And yet I can’t stop playing it. I played it on Steam until I wanted to scream. Then I played it on my phone anytime I had a spare 60 seconds. Hello new backstage toy…
Game of the Year
The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
This game wins because I stayed up until 3 in the morning playing it because I was going to die if I didn’t find out what happened to Clementine. The design is great, I LOVE episodic game-play, and it even made me OK with quick-time events – mostly. My “E” key has almost recovered; but the feels, never.
Best Technical Achievements
(directing, lighting, sound, cinematography)
Game of Thrones
An epic fantasy on HBO full of sweeping fantastical landscapes filmed on location all over the world, cinematic production values, a giant cast of characters, tons of gore. And dragons. No other series stood a chance in this category.
Best Costumes, Hair and Makeup
So You Think You Can Dance
There are lots of shows on the air that achieve incredible things within the world they’re creating. Whether it’s regal England in the early 20th century or a grim zombie-filled dystopia, the costume, hair and makeup work happening on TV these days is astounding (especially considering the myriad of period pieces). But what’s really remarkable about two of our nominees is the sheer diversity of accomplishment. They don’t just accoutre their cast in period-accurate 60s gear every week, the teams on both So You Think You Can Dance and Saturday Night Live run the gamut from renaissance garb to flapper dresses to aliens, bugs and monsters then back again. But the SYTYCD getups take the cake between the two for their attention to detail, movement practicality, and sheer inventiveness week in and week out.
Best Writing for a Drama or Dramedy
Sarah Watson- “The Talk” (Parenthood)
This was a fantastic year for Parenthood, one of the consistently best written shows on TV. In fact, it was a fantastic year for TV writing in general, so much so that this standout episode of the NBC drama beat out not only the genius Emmy-winning Homeland episode “Q&A” but also the great Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant pilot for The Newsroom (an episode that stood head and shoulders above the rest of that troubled but still writerly show). Kristina’s cancer storyline dominated Parenthood‘s fourth season and found an interesting new angle in this episode alongside great arcs for Julia, Joel, Zeek and even Sarah. But it was the Crosby-Jasmine-Jabbar storyline that stood out for its deft and honest examination of a true modern familial conflict.
Best Writing for a Comedy
Josh Malmuth- “Secrets” (New Girl)
New Girl is a brilliant show (more on that to come) but the moment we realized that it might just be a genius show came in the back half of the first season, in the episode where Jess finds out that Cee Cee and Schmidt are sleeping together. The revelation unpacks oodles of consequences both hilarious and moving as Jess reexamines her relationship with her best friend and deals with an awkward amount of honesty from her roommates (including yet another tiny step towards her second season arc with Nick). The episode featured some of the best quotable lines in the whole series- “Jessica P? Jessica freaking P?!”- as well as strong B and C stories to compliment the fantastic main plot. Nick hilariously sought Schmidt’s dating advice and Winston enjoyed a speech so good that for a brief moment he almost felt like a character on par with those with whom he shares the screen. There were 6 seriously great comedy episodes nominated in this category (including the pilot of The Mindy Project that we fell so hard for) but “Secrets” blew them all away.
Best Writing for a Miniseries/TV Movie
Danny Strong- (Game Change)
The nuance, the wit, the research, the sense of something I would almost call fairness that went into this film is nothing short of astounding. Very few liberal screenwriters would have been able to bring the humanity and balance that Danny Strong did to his Sarah Palin project and that made all the difference in taking away the right’s ability to minimize Game Change as anything less than the searing and startling portrait that it was. Erstwhile Jonathan Danny Strong is quickly becoming one of the best pens in the biz. Let’s hope for an interesting 2016 election so he can make it a trilogy (with Recount, his 2008 HBO film about the 2000 Presidential election).
Best Drama or Dramedy
People are always asking us for TV show recommendations. What we’ve found is that these requests usually are coming from people who are already watching Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and quite possibly even Sherlock (Cumberbatch is very hip right now). What they’re not watching is Shameless (or Parenthood, but an NBC family dramedy is a tough sell to your average Breaking Bad fan so we usually just let that one slide). But everyone should be watching Shameless, so it has become our go-to recommendation. The sharp writing and killer ensemble find comedy in tragedy and emotional eloquence in even the unlikeliest of characters, resulting in a immeasurably moving saga that is uniquely and completely devoid of both cheese and pretence.
See all the reasons why New Girl won Best Writing for a Comedy then add a dynamic cast wherein current comedy’s most winning leading lady pairs with TV’s most valuable breakout stars in Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson. Add the awesome Hannah Simone to the mix along with a slew of great guest stars, strong direction, and the smart handling of tricky long-term storytelling and you’ve got a show that week after week seems to be foolproof.
Best Miniseries or TV Movie
We were obsessed with this show. It was enthralling in its storytelling in a way that most great character dramas aren’t and sported one of the best casts of supporting players on TV in a great long while. Capping it at 6 episodes was either a dumb move by USA that reveals taste issues and a tragic lack of trust in tried and true showrunner Greg Berlanti, or it was a contract issue involving Sigourney Weaver. Sad part is, we would have been just as happy to watch the show without its headliner, that’s how invested we were in the rest of her fictional former first family.
Best Reality Series
This is a really dumb show. It’s not, actually, dumb in theory. It actually sports the most strategically challenging format on reality TV and doubles as a fascinating experiment in social psychology. But it’s a dumb show because for some reason CBS keeps trivializing it, casting aspiring actors with nothing between the ears and making the competitions so humiliating and random that it prevents many a smart person from applying and many a talented person from actually winning competitions on purpose. However, because it is the most strategically sophisticated format going, there are a few legendary contestants whose domination of the game completely trumps whatever might be happening on less embarrassing shows. Such was the case with Season 14. Adding the coaches to the mix ensured that from start to finish there was someone interesting to watch from a gameplay point of view (and a personality point of view- Thank you, Britney). Dan Gheesling- largely considered the game’s best strategist- elevated the last 3 or 4 weeks of this season to make it one of the best in history but even as he was laying low most of the summer, smart and showy gamers like Boogie and underused but fantastic newcomer Wil kept the season full of high notes.
Best Variety or Talk Show
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
With a slew of smart recurring bits and the most amicable persona on TV, Jimmy Fallon has become the most reliable performer on the late night circuit. He’s more consistently funny than Jon Stewart (who is at the mercy of the political news cycle) and completely smarm-free, something that can’t be said of almost anyone else on after primetime (at least until Seth Meyers joins the gang in 2014). With a late-night audience that’s quickly disintegrating as young people timeshift their appointment TV into those 11pm and 12am slots, Jimmy continuously produces content buzzy enough to take over newsfeeds and twitter, forcing young people to pay him more mind than anyone else in his game.
Best New Series
Oh, The Newsroom. Everyone liked to dump on The Newsroom. Hey, even we liked to dump on The Newsroom on occasion. But the reason we were all doing that comes down to one thing: insanely high standards. This was a pretty decent year for new shows but most of our favourites were things that are more enjoyable than important (The Mindy Project, Bunheads, Nashville). The importance of Girls can be debated, but we had the opposite problem with it- we barely enjoyed it at all (despite whatever valuable “it makes you think” moments it provided). The Newsroom, on the other hand, even through all its frustrating growing pains and overblown controversies, was a show that both entertained and roused us. We think its moments of greatness outshone its moments of weakness (hey Mack, learn how to use a blackberry!) and while it never stood a chance of living up to expectations, it easily outran its competition.
Best Canceled Series
Here’s where things get sad. We loved this show. It was a half hour of pure, lovely, bantery sweetness from the makers of an all-time sitcom great (Will & Grace). We loved Pan Am too, but its January cancellation pushed it very barely into this year’s awards (want to hear something tragic? It won “Best New Show” last season- So Much Potential!). None of the other nominated shows this year even come close to Partners or Pan Am. For the most part, last year’s crop of cancellations were smart moves against bad shows (this year, on the other hand,… we’ll talk about the fate of Happy Endings around this time next year) but Partners was never really given a chance to charm its audience the way it charmed us out of the gate. It got caught between oldschool CBS viewers who embraced the traditional tone but rejected the great Michael Urie’s fast-talking, pop-culture-referencing, stereotype-balking leading man, and hip young people who got that character but couldn’t handle the laughtrack and un-hip CBS pleasantness of the whole thing. It’s too bad, because from the creators through to the entire cast, Partners was full of people we wanted working. Together, ideally.
Best Ensemble in a Drama or Dramedy
William H Macy was this show’s selling point when it first began, helped along a little by the quirky presence of Joan Cusack. Through every episode of the series so far, both Macy and Cusack have been impressive, interesting, entertaining and affecting. But they are far from the stars of the show. Loyal viewers tune in for Emmy Rossum’s steel-skinned big sister Fiona and the genius Jeremy Allen White as her wasted genius brother Lip (a fascinating character so demandingly written that White continues to astound year in and year out). We tune in for Shanola Hampton and Steve Howey as the loyally absurd couple that somehow keeps the Gallaghers grounded. We tune in for the soulful Cameron Monaghan whose strong-headed and closed-mouthed Ian has been sent through some of TV’s most complicated emotional arcs in the last few seasons. We tune in to see Noel Fisher’s infuriating bad kid Mickey grapple with falling for someone as stubbornly, fundamentally good as Ian. We tune in to see Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky grow their characters up from goofy kids good for a gag or two into full-fledged, complicated Gallaghers like the rest. We tune in for Laura Wiggins’ fearlessness and Emma Greenwell’s reluctant softness and Justin Chatwin’s comic timing. We tune in because this ensemble is just outrageously good across the entire board.
Best Lead Actor in a Drama or Dramedy
Damian Lewis (Homeland)
Does this one actually require very much explanation? We are in agreement with the rest of the TV-watching world that Damian Lewis is a genius who took a character the American public was more than likely to immediately and unwaveringly hate and made him a sympathetic, vulnerable, heroic, romantic, believable human being. Season two of Homeland was a little rocky but Damian Lewis held down the fort.
Best Lead Actress in a Drama or Dramedy
Emmy Rossum (Shameless)
See “Best Drama or Dramedy” and “Best Ensemble” and know that if the best dramedy on TV has a “star” it’s Emmy Rossum. Fiona is the glue of the show and Rossum continues to amaze with a brash, fragile, funny, exhausted and loving performance that makes the dainty former Christine Daae disappear completely into the eldest Gallagher girl.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama or Dramedy
Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom)
The best thing about our Best New Show winner is its most surprising character. The fantastic pilot episode set up a lot of heroes and not many villains. Over the course of the first season we gradually began to see the less shiny side of seemingly perfect pilot characters like Jim, making them a lot more interesting. But, for the most part, everyone was introduced as someone meant to be loved and admired (to varying degrees of success). Don was the sole exception. He was set up to be judged harshly by the audience, then we got to discover him over the course of the season. We got to mine all those moments- when he said the wrong thing or took an unpopular side or got in the way of Maggie being with Jim- for the good guy motivations buried defensively within. There are definitely people who made it to the end of the first season still thinking that Don is a villain, and that’s okay. That’s interesting. Because there are lots of good people in this world that are thought of as villains by those who weren’t paying all that much attention. These are the people who feed right into Sloan’s beautiful finale speech- “at some point along the way, someone told you that you’re a bad guy”- and make Don’s struggle to be a good guy all the more compelling. Thomas Sadoski walks that line beautifully. He plays Don as a confident, sometimes overbearing, achingly smart, occasionally manipulative, wryly funny, overly compromising upstart crippled by the way the world sees him and the terrifying desperation that brings to the way he conducts himself in the newsroom and in his actual life. Season one of The Newsroom was a very frustrating experience but we will always remember it for the beautiful experience of getting to meet Don the way you might actually meet a person- slowly uncovering small truths and fighting assumptions until you can actually see them clearly for the first time.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama or Dramedy
Olivia Munn (The Newsroom)
Like Thomas Sadoski as Don, Olivia Munn wasn’t handed an easily winnable task on The Newsroom. She wasn’t in the pilot episode, then when she finally was introduced, Sloan had just a few lines a week, voicing her concerns about the crumbling economy and giving horrible relationship advice. She was in that weird space where most people were easily overlooking her and those who weren’t had decided they hated her because they were carrying around an unhelpful dislike of the actress herself. People didn’t seem to buy the phone-sex-scandal victim (is that the right word?) and Maxim cover girl as a fierce economist with 2 PhDs (we’d like to point out how sexist that is, by the way) but by the time we got to the tour-de-force episode “Bullies”, Sloan had developed, like Don, into a character completely worth rooting for, at least in the eyes of people willing to give characters a second chance to win them over. That episode thrust her into the forefront of badassery and dynamic character moments (“Don’t call me girl, Sir”!) and in a show where the heroes are, by definition, entirely too pleased with themselves, it’s less obviously shiny characters like Sloan and Don who stand out. It’s telling that one of the best scenes of the whole series so far was the one they shared in the finale.
Best Ensemble in a Comedy
We thought this show was pretty stupid when it first came on, but we stayed with it out of unconditional love for Matthew Perry and it didn’t take long before we found ourselves tuning in happily every week with thoughts of Friends far from our minds. Sure, Perry’s always fun and this show did also have the reliable dose of awesome that always comes with casting John Cho in anything (even as a vague best friend who doesn’t really fit into the show’s setup), but it was the weirdos at Ryan’s grief counseling group who bizarrely made this show work for the short time it did (honestly, one of the sadder cancelations of the year. You’ll likely see this show in next season’s Best Canceled Series category). Laura Benanti, who started out as a slightly obnoxious potential love interest and not a lot more, quickly got her quirk on and made Lauren hilarious even as the resident “sane one”. The great Tyler James Williams brought the perfect deadpan dynamic to keep the group balanced, Tonita Castro’s English-less Fausta went in all sorts of unexpected and delightful directions, and the unlikely romantic developments between Sarah Baker’s cat lady Sonia and Seth Morris’ sunshiny loser Danny shockingly had us hooked. Even Suzy Nakamura’s potentially toxic Yolanda and Brett Gelman’s over-the-top Mr. K won us over. But it’s probably Julie White as Anne that we’ll miss the most. She was so witty, so wry, so genuinely touching in her dramatic moments that her character easily could live on in an hour-long spinoff of her own. We liked having a major gay character on a network sitcom who wasn’t defined by or obsessed with her sexuality (yes, we’re talking to you, The New Normal) and we liked how beautifully her story paralleled and contrasted Ryan’s. It wasn’t until we were pretty sure this show wasn’t coming back that we realized how much we would miss it, not really for the show itself but for its grief-stricken but genuinely loveable ensemble.
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy & Best Lead Actress in a Comedy
Jake Johnson (New Girl) & Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
We had to lump these two together because they are as good as they are specifically because of each other. We don’t mean to say that they’re not both brilliant in their own rights (Johnson’s performance in his solo storyline where Nick meets “future Nick” is pretty much a standout moment in sitcom history in our minds) but it was because of the awesome, unexpected chemistry between these two that series creator Elizabeth Meriwether decided to change her planned dynamics and try getting Nick and Jess together. The resulting season and a half of slow-burn, fantastically awkward dancing around the issue has perfectly shown off not only the brightness of the chemistry between Johnson and Deschanel but the incredible not only comic but dramatic power of both actors. They’ve stepped up as TV’s leading comic players amidst one of the strongest comedy landscapes in a really long time. There were tons of great nominees in both of these categories this year (awards favourite Jim Parsons, personal favourites Sutton Foster and Michael Urie, hero to all Amy Poehler, the great Justin Kirk in his last season on the seminal Weeds…) but this year there was just no arguing with the power of Nick & Jess.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Adam Driver (Girls)
Girls is a tricky show. If you don’t inherently relate to it, or see it as ultimately true, it can be hard to understand why on earth you’re supposed to care about characters so unamusingly trapped each in their own narrow window of self-indulgent horribleness. Our hypothesis- especially as it applies to 2012’s season one- is that to appreciate Girls is to appreciate Adam. It was our journey towards just that that made season one actually surprisingly special despite our not being quite as universally entranced as much of the critical community. We hated him at first for his harsh crassness and unapologetic lack of what one could call gentlemanliness but more likely should just be called general human functioning. It was astounding, then, how Adam Driver managed to take this utterly unappealing man and, with barely a twist in the writing, reveal enough dimensions that even the most harshly judgemental audience member could see his point of view. He didn’t just humanize Adam, he made him into the reason we came back for season two.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Toks Olagundoye (The Neighbors)
On a show as truly silly as The Neighbors, Toks Olagundoye stands out from the other great actresses in this field not because we love her character (not that we don’t love Jackie, because we do; she’s adorable) but because of the sheer technical skill she displays in playing her. Jackie is weird but Olagundoye doesn’t go all the way to wackadoo “I’m playing an alien! Isn’t it freeing?!” weird like the actors playing her husband and youngest son. She is the only Neighbors actor who’s had much heavy lifting to do on the emotional front (aside from the remarkably lovely teen romance playing out between the Mamet girl and the alien boy) and she has some of the most remarkable comic timing in recent sitcom history. Most notable, perhaps, is that the strange versatility the role requires barely seems to make the actress blink. One particularly memorable scene early on saw Olagundoye flip through a roster of dead-on accents to show how the aliens landed on their British personas. Like the rest of the nominees on this list (Zosia Mamet! Gillian Jacobs!), Olagundoye makes us laugh out loud and care about her character, but more than any of the others she makes us marvel at “how on earth did she just do that?!”.
Best Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Sebastian Stan (Political Animals)
We’re obsessed with Sebastian Stan. Ever since the sadly short-lived Kings, he’s been a master of the misunderstood princely “bad boy” but he seems to keep just missing his breakthrough role by an inch. In the case of the great but also sadly short-lived Political Animals, Stan was perfectly cast in a wonderfully written part that allowed him to stretch all sorts of fresh dramatic muscles while showing off handy side skills like piano virtuosity but staying in the wheelhouse that serves him best. One of TV’s most consistent showrunners, Greg Berlanti handed a breakout part to the only actor we can think of who could have played it as soulfully as the role required, and yet it somehow still snuck in under the critical radar. Just like with Kings, Sebastian Stan’s genius here will have to develop its cult following in DVD afterlife.
Best Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Julianne Moore (Game Change)
Much as we like to tout actors who didn’t get their due in a particular role, we couldn’t argue with how simply wonderful Julianne Moore was in her Emmy-winning role as Sarah Palin. The impersonation- from the hair to the voice to the practiced nods of her head- was eerily astute, but it was the humanity she mustered on behalf of the most controversial woman in politics that earned Julianne Moore all the accolades she’s won. The rage, the terror, the sadness, the blind ambition, the irreverent hopefulness, the defensiveness, the loneliness- it was all in there in a character portrait that might even be more fascinating than the real Palin.
Best Young Actor
Jack Gleeson (Game of Thrones)
Joffrey Baratheon is not a likeable character. On a show full of people in differing degrees of morally gray, he’s the grayest. And he’s not even the brilliant kind of gray that makes an audience member root for a well-thought-out evil plan, like Tywin Lannister or Little Finger. No. Joffrey is a snot-nosed bastard with a sadistic streak and little authority not handed to him by his ill-gotten crown. And in the books, we never wanted to see the guy. So how the hell did Jack Gleeson end up winning Best Young Actor for Game of Thrones? By going full throttle on the sadism and hair-trigger insanity. Gleeson doesn’t tamper down Joffrey – doesn’t make him sympathetic or tragic – he makes him the very embodiment of political corruption and the random, cruel hand of fate. And somehow STILL makes him infinitely watchable.
Best Guest Actor
David Harbour (The Newsroom)
We gave this to the nominee with the largest guest arc. That is, in some ways, an unfair advantage and it’s one that is often reflected in awards recognition, but the fact is the more material an actor has to work with the more impact he can often make. In the case of David Harbour, he used his small-ish recurring role as Elliott, the anchor who follows Will’s nightly broadcast, to great effect. He had standout moments in multiple episodes- most notably “Amen” wherein he risks his safety to get a story from the streets of Cairo and ends up in the hospital- and has become a surprising number of people’s favourite character.
Best Guest Actress
Sarah Ramos (Parenthood)
Jason Katims has never been afraid to graduate his characters. In many cases, that means that series stars move on to become guest stars as their characters move on to college. For good-girl Haddie Braverman, there was never any chance she would stay around like her cousin Amber. Haddie was a girl going to college, most likely to a dream school far away from the Braverman camp. It was inevitable. But the effect was actually great. Like Matt Saracen before her, it wasn’t actually until Haddie was downgraded to a guest star that she really started to shine. Her farewell episode that kicked off the season was heartbreaking in how true-to-life it felt, then Ramos and Peter Krause stole the entire season with the phonecall that stopped the hearts of viewers across the continent (earning a nomination for “Moment of the Year”). Haddie was always just so-so on the Braverman scale of brilliant characters but in small doses this season she was mesmerizing.
Best Late Night Personality/Talk or Variety Host
Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live)
When Taran Killam first showed up as a featured player on SNL in 2010 we could tell pretty quickly that he was a game-changer. Spot-on impressions like his “Being Quirky” sidekick Michael Cera and original characters like the fantastically zany host of “J-Pop America Fun Time Now” quickly had Killam scoring more sketch appearances each week than many of the full cast members. He was promoted as soon as their was room on the roster and became one of the show’s most-used performers, appearing in almost every sketch, parody and digital short in some capacity. He’s the heir apparent to the recently sadly departed Bill Hader for brazen invention and pure hilarity track record but also has the leading man looks and affable charm of a Jason Sudeikis or Seth Meyers. Throw in a spouse as kickass as HIMYM/The Avengers‘ Cobie Smulders and you’ve got yourself one of the coolest guys in Hollywood (or New York, rather).
Best Variety Performance
Jimmy Kimmel (The Emmy Awards)
This category is always stacked with Saturday Night Live, hosts but its the awards show hosts that often win. It’s a tricky thing to do well so the few who manage to keep the bloated, self-congratulatory schmooze-fests rollicking along usually deserve the highest praise. This year the late night funnyman killed it at the Emmys, generating plenty of moments to talk about and sponsoring his own “In Memorium” segment in which Josh Groban serenaded his memory with a rendition of “What Makes You Beautiful”. It was, in a word, beautiful.
Best Reality Host
Ryan Seacrest (American Idol)
Jeff Probst wins this award pretty much every year and we were just about to hand him his third straight trophy for his beautiful handling of Colton’s tribal council controversies and subsequent medical evacuation from One World when the news of yet another American Idol judging panel shakeup was confirmed. This made us stop and reconsider the four-time nominee who has never won: Ryan Seacrest. American Idol is still considered the crown (if fading) jewel of reality competition shows, but it’s incredibly rare that an actual contestant captures national attention while on the show (it hasn’t really happened since Adam Lambert in season 8) and the judging panel has been a joke since Simon left, if not years before (I say it started to go downhill somewhere around season 5). As the show gets more and more desperate (and thus crazier and crazier), it’s come down to one man to keep the entire thing afloat- steadfast host Ryan Seacrest. When the new season premieres next winter without executive producer Nigel Lithgow and without original judge Randy Jackson on the panel, Ryan will officially be the only thing left over from the series’ heyday. And it’s a good thing he’s stayed. His elimination reveals are still annoyingly over-dramatic but he handles the crazy people like a champ and maneuvers around technical hiccups better than almost any other host out there (this past season there was a live episode where Nicki Minaj didn’t even show up until 15 minutes in). We felt it was high time Ryan finally got his due for being the only reason left to watch American Idol.
Best Reality Judge/Coach
Blake Shelton (The Voice)
It’s actually getting to be a bit of a problem, how likeable Blake Shelton is. Someone from his team won both seasons of The Voice that aired in 2012 and he’s set up to take home season 4 as well (unless Michelle Chamuel has anything to say about it!) but all that winning seems to have less to do with the actual contestants than you’d think. Blake has decent taste in the blinds (and a great ear for pitch) but he doesn’t often end up with the season’s best vocalists (they often go TeamChristina) or the most special artists (TeamCeeLo almost every time). But Team Blake wins anyway. What Blake does really really well is support his players and endear them to the audience. He picks songs that will sell well and boost their iTunes votes and makes sure they tell a good story. But as great as Blake is at making his team into people we want to vote for, I think he’s winning because people are voting for him, not his team. He’s funny and warm and sweet and plays beautifully off the other standout personality at the coaches table (Adam Levine, last year’s winner in this category). How much Blake loves his artists makes us love them on his behalf and if he himself keeps on being so winning he will win The Voice no sweat every time out.
Best Female Reality Star/Team
Kim Spradlin (Survivor)
This wasn’t a huge year for dynamic women on reality TV. Our nominees in this category are endearing sweethearts (Katie Martin, Lisa Whelchel, Cassadee Pope) or entertaining “villains” (Courtney Robertson) but we like to reward standout strategists whenever we can and there only seemed to be one of those this year. Kim Spradlin dominated Survivor: One World so thoroughly that it actually got boring. She didn’t put one foot wrong all competition to the point where she was even in fairly good favour with the jury she had so swiftly voted out and there was no chance she wouldn’t win. Such mastery of anything deserves recognition, even if it sucked all the drama out of the usually high-tension show.
Best Male Reality Star/Team
Jamar Rogers (The Voice)
This was one of the toughest categories of the year. In one corner you have the newly crowned strategic king of reality TV (Dan Gheesling). In another corner you have the man who beat him at his own game (Ian Terry). Then there were two Amazing Race teams (Bopper & Mark and Jaymes & James) that captured our hearts immeasurably by running the race with charm and humour and sportsmanship that was truly inspiring. It came down to the wire, but fan votes tipped the scales in favour of another inspiring personality known for his optimism and grace even more than for his vocal acrobatics and inventive arrangements on season two of The Voice. Read our Exclusive Interview with Jamar HERE.
Best TV Couple
Brad & Jane (Happy Endings)
It’s a strange phenomenon but genuinely happy, drama-free married people rarely exist on TV unless they are background parents on a teen show. That was one of the many interesting things about the sadly departed but so-good-for-the-tv-landscape sitcom Happy Endings. Its bold embracement and subsequent annihilation of traditional television “types” ranged from a sloppy straight man of a gay character, to a rom-com loving “token black guy”, to a dainty leading lady who could put away ribs like she was Fred Flintstone. The deliriously happy, perfectly complementary, dangerously functional coupling of Brad and Jane was one of the show’s most defiantly hilarious inventions. Damon Wayans Jr. was a marvel of comedic detail as syrupy Brad, pairing with the razor-sharp Eliza Coupe (so great in late Scrubs) as the world’s most intense woman to make a couple that did unspeakable things like balance and support each other. Very very rarely did the show lean on a Brad vs. Jane trope to fill plotting time, knowing that the strength of the dynamic the pilot set up was that they were far more hilarious together than apart.
The Be-My-Best-Friend Award
Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project)
The following accurately represents the Mindy-related sentiments of at least three of our most senior writers: “It’s uncanny; I feel like she’s quoting me half the time. The other half is when she’s being all ‘I was plucked out of near obscurity to be on and write for The Office; BJ Novak and I have an epic relationship-friendship thing that could be a screenplay; I went to an Ivy League school; I go to the Emmys; I consider Ellie Kemper one of my best friends; I have my own TV show on FOX that I run and star in, wherein I can pretend that I’m a party girl/brilliant doctor instead of a homebody with a blog’. To my knowledge, Mindy Kaling has never said any of those things, but they are nonetheless true and they are the points on which we differ (also: race, but Mindy and I both know that that’s not a game-changing detail). Mindy Kaling, in all her messy imperfect not-Tina-Fey ness, is the closest thing to a Hollywood idol I’ve ever had (in that please-be-my-best-friend way, not in the we-should-all-strive-to-be-more-like-Oprah way).” That’s from our glowing pilot watch of The Mindy Project, a show that, while imperfect, gives us episodes wherein Seth Rogen is “the one that got away” and Chris Messina tries unsuccessfully to teach himself to play “Piano Man” on the keyboard. Like all great best friends, Mindy knows how to make us smile when pretty much no one else could.
The Marry-Me Award
Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy)
It’s surprisingly rare that the contenders for the Marry-Me Award and the Ridiculously Good-Looking Male Award overlap. The former is all about editorial tastes whereas the latter is at least somewhat objective so doesn’t tend to skew quite as dramatically or consistently towards tall, eloquent and slightly geeky boys with brown hair and glasses. Jesse Williams is where that pattern falls to pieces. He’s insanely good looking in the most objective sense possible- those cheekbones, those abs, those eyes!- but we also love him like we love Adam Scott or Zachary Levi or Taran Killam. He’s funny and smart and married to a real person, not a Hollywood type or inhuman model. This year he brought Jackson Avery to the forefront of the Grey’s Anatomy ensemble and gave consistently fantastic performances that demanded the writers give him more to do than take off his shirt. He also starred in a Joss Whedon-penned horror film and earned a My Cinema Award nomination as part of that stellar ensemble. We love him, a little because he’s a Ridiculously Good-Looking Male, but mostly because we actually like him.
Ridiculously Good-Looking Male
Ridiculously Good-Looking Female
Matt Bomer (White Collar)
Allison Williams (Girls)
No More Explanation Needed.
Moment of the Year
Dan’s Funeral (Big Brother)
Yes, it seems weird to declare a Big Brother move the “TV Moment of the Year” but this was the sort of thing that rocked not only the reality competition landscape but made news beyond the insular community of avid fans. With his back against the wall and 24 hours of solitary confinement ahead of him, season 10’s great strategist Dan Gheesling made up his mind that he wasn’t going out like this. He came out of solitary with one of the weirdest, sneakiest, ballsiest strategies anyone’s ever seen, something that would get him compared to Daniel Ocean and the characters in The Sting, something that is heretofore just referred to as “Dan’s Funeral”. He hosted an elaborate charade to protect his strongest ally from being evicted in his place then proceeded to flip the house, create a fake alliance to oust his greatest threat Britney, then flip it back and maneuver his former alliance to propel him into the final two. His status as a former winner ultimately lost him the jury vote and the grand prize went to 21-year-old superfan Ian Terry, but Season 14 was the season of Dan Gheesling either way. Those final weeks of Big Brother last summer were some of the best TV of the year and Dan might just have changed the way the game is played forever. Read our Exclusive Interview with the notorious BB mastermind HERE.
Best Actor in a Play
Ben Sanders in French Without Tears (Shaw Festival)
There were a lot of standout leading actors in national companies this year. This category was stacked with some of our longstanding favourites and veteran actors in career-best performances, but no one managed to top the breakout performance from a young Shaw actor named Ben Sanders who made the unlikely French Without Tears into one of the most indelible character portraits of 2012.
Best Actress in a Play
Nancy Palk in Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
Soulpepper’s brave followup to Stratford’s legendary production of this Eugene O’Neill classic was seen as a strangely Oedipal rehashing by some, but we couldn’t have appreciated it more for bringing what is widely considered the Greatest North-American Play to a new generation of theatre-goers, starring the current generation of Canadian theatre legends. First among that venerable cast was Nancy Palk in the play’s most demanding and memorable role, morphine-addicted Mary Tyrone. Hers was one of the first performances by a leading actress we saw all year and hers remains the best (in a very strong year for leading actresses, mind you).
Best Actor in a Musical
Jeremy Jordan in Newsies (Disney Theatrical Group- Broadway)
The variety in skill set displayed by the seven men nominated in this category is astounding. Two portrayed real-life legends (Charlie Chaplin and Jerry Lee Lewis), one brought one of the western world’s most famous fictional characters to life (Charlie Brown). The others played icons of the musical theatre canon ranging from an operatic pirate to a Broadway producer to a status-quo-defying ragtime musician. They sang, they danced, they played instruments, they made us laugh and broke our hearts. And no one did it better than superstar-on-the-rise Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly- the intense, charming, haunted and brave leader of the Newsies.
Best Actress in a Musical
Arlene Duncan in Caroline, or Change (Acting Up Stage/Obsidian Theatre)
Here’s how good Arlene Duncan was in Caroline, or Change: we hated Caroline, or Change. We did, we thought it was stupid. But Arlene Duncan is winning this award anyway. She’s winning this award, even though we hated the show she’s winning it for, because her work in the show we hated was inarguable. It was brilliant. It was emotionally stirring and inspiringly commanding and vocally perfect. And who are we to quibble with perfection?
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Gregory Prest in Long Days’s Journey Into Night (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
If you’ve been reading our work all year, you already know just how much of a genius we consider Soulpepper’s young leading man to be. But we need to explain to you why that is. Part of it is consistency; we’ve literally never attended a Soulpepper production and been let down by a Gregory Prest performance. But a lot of it was his astounding performance as the soulful and tortured Edmund in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. That was the moment when Prest went from a strong company member and one-time My Theatre Award nominee to an actor who we honestly believe to be one of the best in the country. Interestingly, he’s joined in this category by perhaps the strongest competition of our entire 2012 Awards Season. Between Dennis, Pettle, Bogert-O’Brien, Peterson, Happer and Powell there lies more talent than we could have imagined falling into a single category at the start of this season. All of them are considered My Theatre favourites for performances beyond even just the great ones mentioned in this year’s awards. But nothing and no one could beat Gregory Prest as Eugene O’Neill’s theatrical version of himself.
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Laura Condlln in The Matchmaker (Stratford Festival)
Stratford’s most tragically underrated leading lady has never been underrated by us. We love her. And with every performance she shows us something entirely new, whether it be the cripplingly depressed heroine of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis at CanStage or an enchantingly witty hat seller in a rom-com on the festival stage. In a different year, the latter role, mid-sized but scene-stealing and plot-moving as it was, might have bumped Condlln into the leading category. But a strong leading actress field and fewer great supporting turns left a space for her to swoop in and take the win out of the hands of My Theatre favourites like Bethany Jillard and Claire Jullien, and breakouts like Hannah Miller in The Crucible. The warmth and intelligence of Condlln’s turn in The Matchmaker (and her rat-a-tat chemistry with co-star Mike Shara) won this one.
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Sean Arbuckle in The Pirates of Penzance (Stratford Festival)
There are only two nominees in this year’s My Theatre Awards who managed to garner nominations in two different acting categories (excluding Best Ensemble). Best Actress winner Nancy Palk is one. Best Supporting Actor in a Musical winner Sean Arbuckle is the other. He brought humanity, nuance and refreshing complication to his leading role in 42nd Street, but it was as the Pirate King of Penzance that Sean Arbuckle made his strongest mark on the 2012 Stratford season. He was sidesplittingly hilarious in a role that can often be too hammy to be funny while also carving out a remarkable emotional arc for his character. He handled the classically tinged vocals well and generally delivered one of the most memorably delightful performances of the season full stop.
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Alana Hibbert in Ragtime (Shaw Festival)
We were thrilled to see Alana Hibbert finally get her due with a role as great as Sarah in The Shaw Festival’s hit production of Ragtime. A longtime standout in smaller roles with smaller companies, Hibbert’s breakout performance as the tragic Sarah was enough to win her Best Supporting Actress in a Musical despite heavy competition from performers who completely stole the shows they’re nominated for (Lael Van Keuren came in a very close second for her role in Sister Act). Ragtime was a great piece with a strong cast all around but Hibbert distinguished herself among them as the star performer, at least in our eyes.
Outstanding Ensemble Member/Actor in a Small Role
Newsies – Ryan Steele & Christopher Gattelli (Disney Theatrical Group- Broadway)
The best way for us to explain to you why Newsies won all three of these awards (and why we lumped them all together) is for you to watch the video embedded below. This adorable show was nothing without its mind-boggling ensemble of dancers (The best of whom was Ryan Steele as “Specs”. He’s the one dancing circles around all the other astoundingly good dancers). Here they are at The Tony Awards showing off Gattelli’s witty and impressive choreo.
Thomas Moschopoulos for Elektra (Stratford Festival)
The Greeks can be alienating, often directed either stiffly or with so much zany avant garde interpretation that the story gets lost and the populist (or even semi-populist) audience goes with it. And then Thomas Moschopoulos directed Elektra at The Stratford Festival. There was so much smart modernity to his interpretation, so much insight into legendary characters that revitalized them in fascinating ways that, far from undermining, actually elevated the text. The performances he was able to stir from his actors, the pacing, the use of the chorus, the use of the Tom Patterson space- there wasn’t a single misstep in Moschopoulos’ production; an unexpected favourite even among those who’ve never before liked a Greek play.
Michel Gauthier for The Blue Dragon (Mirvish Productions)
We see a ton of theatre and at this point we know how it’s all made. It is thus incredibly rare that something can surprise us on a stage-magic level. Most of the nominees in this category created sets that were metaphorically meaningful, appealing to the eye, made good use of space and facilitated movement. But only one gave us that old can’t-see-the-strings-making-Peter-Pan-fly feeling of wonder. Robert Lepage’s Blue Dragon was an interesting enough piece from a storytelling and performance point of view, but it was Michel Gauthier’s design wizardry that made it special. It was a high-tech, beyond multi-functional, dynamic masterpiece of cinematic theatricality. So much so that we could never quite predict what it might look like ten seconds down the road.
Best Lighting Design
Jeff Adelberg for Medea (Actors’ Shakespeare Project)
Lighting is usually an ancillary element to many of us, pretty window dressing that can either add spice to good content or highlight the flaws in a weak show. In Medea, the lighting design became a character. Light was the force of nature pushing Medea, it was the influence of the Gods, it was tangible. She called upon the sun and the circular chandelier descended from the ceiling to encircle and protect her. It was one of the only shows in memory where we couldn’t stop talking about the lights.
Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
We already have two winners from this production so we hate to repeat ourselves by telling you again here how spectacular it was. What we’ll do instead is tell you how amazing the other nominees were so you can glean the brilliance of Long Day’s based on the fact that it beat them. The Crucible was the ever-reliable Soulpepper’s second best play of the year, a thrilling, terrifying, visceral production that was superbly acted. Stratford’s inventive Elektra was brought to life by our Best Director winner and was the surprise of the season. Cymbeline closely followed it as a creative and entertaining take on a troubled and challenging text with strong performances and insightful direction. Then there was The ASP’s startling Medea starring Best Actress nominee Jennie Israel and Shaw’s wonderful French Without Tears starring Best Actor winner Ben Sanders. It was a great slate and Long Day’s was the best of them.
Ragtime (Shaw Festival)
What we liked about The Shaw Festival’s hit production of Ragtime was that it was that rarest of things- a brand new production of a musical that’s not actually that old. For the most part, musicals stick to their original stagings like glue. There becomes a generally accepted way of staging and performing every new musical and that won’t be tampered with for decades to come. We don’t like to reward productions like that. Newsies, Chaplin and Wanderlust were all new productions, judged mostly on the strength of their material and original casts. 42nd Street and The Pirates of Penzance were classics re-staged as classics that old must be. But Ragtime is a musical with material that’s fresh enough to be contemporary but tested enough that it was the production on trial, not Ragtime itself. The Shaw Festival is not known for directorial risks but they put enough thought and care into every detail of their own, original Ragtime that it was a start-to-finish thrill for the eyes, the ears, the heart and the mind.
Best Actor in a Regional Production
Eli Ham in Macbeth (Humber River Shakespeare Company)
This was one of the strongest categories of the year. There were more standout performers in this lot than most seasons have in their entire list of nominees (that may be a slight exaggeration, but you catch our meaning). From Gord Rand‘s visceral solo turn in the haunting 20th of November to the performance of thrice-nominated Michael-David Blostein‘s career thus far (as the Emcee in Cabaret) to rising star Paolo Santalucia’s soulful and charming Romeo, this was a tough year to be in competition for Best Actor in a Regional Production. That is unless you are Eli Ham, whose thrilling and thoughtful take on Macbeth was the sort of performance that makes one re-evaluate a character you thought you knew.
Best Actress in a Regional Production
Courtney Lamanna in Cabaret (Hart House Theatre)
Speaking of actors who breathe new life into iconic characters, Courtney Lamanna’s dynamically unalloyed Sally Bowles was a revelation to those of us who could never wrap our heads around your average Cabaret. Despite the sparkling charm and dynamo vocals that gave Lamanna’s Sally her power over life (and Cliff), the greatest achievement of her performance was the vanity-free way she abandoned those qualities to let Sally’s ugliness, pettiness, and desperation bubble up. In doing so, Lamanna took an icon and made her human.
Best Supporting Actor in a Regional Production
Michael Underhill in Polaroid Stories (Happy Medium/Heart & Dagger/Boston Actors Theater)
Michael Underhill’s Narcissus astounded this season with his beautiful vulnerability. Not only did he surprise and excite during his monologues, he delivered captivating chemistry with his castmates. Underhill wins this year for his true ability to support his castmates onstage while creating his own unique character.
Best Supporting Actress in a Regional Production
Juliet Bowler in The Pillowman (Flat Earth Theatre)
Juliet Bowler impressed twofold as Tupulski: she took a traditionally male role and utterly owned it without either feeling the need to specifically “feminize” the character or “masculinize” herself, and she was the scariest Tupolski we could possibly imagine. Her performance chilled us to the bone, and filled us with rage, shock, and horror as each new facet of her character was revealed.
Best Ensemble in a Regional Production
Polaroid Stories (Happy Medium/Heart & Dagger/Boston Actors Theater)
Few productions this year rivaled the dynamite trio of three of the best Boston theatre companies’ combined efforts in Polaroid Stories. By assembling an award-winning cast and nurturing each cast member’s story, this ensemble brought life and energy into mythology.
Best Director for a Regional Production
Adam Brazier for Cabaret (Hart House Theatre)
Take the paragraph we just dedicated to Best Actress winner Courtney Lamanna and apply it to an entire production. In directing Cabaret, Adam Brazier completely ignored decades of theatrical history and one of the most famous films ever made and just staged the story as he saw it. The story he saw (and thus the story his audience saw) was darker, sadder, and more hauntingly true-feeling. From his inspired Sally to his omnipresent puppet master Emcee to the infuriating unpleasantness of the twist he gave “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”, Brazier’s Cabaret simply told a stronger story than Cabaret ever has on its own.
Best Designer for a Regional Production
Jay Pooley for The Loyalists (Single Thread Theatre)
Our smallest category of the year only featured three nominees, all very different. My Name is Rachel Corrie designer Mariuxi Zambrano brought director Mumbi Otu‘s metaphorically rich vision of a sand-filled stage to fruition thoughtfully, while playwright/director Kat Sandler paired with designer Alain Richer to create a practical set that perfectly and simply encapsulated the characters who lived there in her complicated black comedy Delicacy. But we decided to reward the most ambitious of this year’s design nominees- Jay Pooley, the architect/designer who created an entire, interactive 1813 town on a little piece of land in modern downtown Toronto.
Best Regional Production
The Pillowman (Flat Earth Theatre)
Sarah Gazdowicz’s expert direction and overwhelmingly talented cast made for the show of the year. Cameron Gosselin as Katurian gave the type of monologue that could convince you of anything. James Bocock and Juliet Bowler had stunning power as Ariel and Tupolski. It was the type of production that makes you want to go home and think about your life and then go out and make theatre.
Best New Work
Alligator Pie by Soulpepper Creative Ensemble (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
This year’s Best New Work nominees were, for the most part, creators of happiness. They were playwrights who saw into our hearts (Modern Love), told us the truth (The Best Brothers) and made us laugh (Potted Potter). They created fiction within reality (Campbell House Story), reality within fiction (Delicacy) and explored the lives of people who sometimes can’t tell the difference (True Believers). But they all made us smile and see ourselves in the stories they told and inspired us to be storytellers ourselves. None more so than the five incomparably multi-dimensional artists who make up Soulpepper’s Creative Ensemble. A more talented and inspiring group of individuals would be hard to find and a piece more inventive, moving, and simply fun than Alligator Pie seems impossible.
Best Dance Performance
Guillaume Cote in Hamlet (National Ballet of Canada)
Each of the four nominees in this category is an astounding technical dancer. That, we feel, should be almost taken for granted (as insane as that sounds). The reason we chose these four is other criteria. Christopher Stalzer we chose for the delight of his character performance and impeccable comic timing in the dated but lovely Fille Mal Gardee. Greta Hodgkinson we chose for her ethereal beauty in Act II of The National Ballet of Canada’s moving Giselle. James Greenan- our only dance nominee to come from a world outside of ballet- is nominated for the charismatic command he brought to the lead role in the perpetually astounding marathon that is Riverdance. But it was Canada’s leading man who stole this award the moment he began the silent soliloquy that opens Hamlet‘s first balletic act (point of interest: his wife won this award last year). It was a tour-de-force display of technical virtuosity and acting ability far beyond that of any other principal dancer on the national stage.
Best Opera Performance
The Ensemble of Gianni Schicchi (Canadian Opera Company)
The Canadian Opera Company is known for technical brilliance and acting mediocrity. But, as we pointed out in the preceding category, we like to take technical brilliance for granted when it comes to comparing professional performers who have dedicated their lives to an art form as strict in technique as dance or opera. So our nominees here are the performers from The COC’s 2012 season who most moved us with their character performances as well as the emotional content of the technically brilliant vocals that we are taking mostly for granted. As such, the most memorable performers of the year are the Ensemble of the wonderfully funny and refreshingly bright Gianni Schicchi. All of a sudden the entire COC stage seemed lit up with character details and line deliveries that told a story rather than just hit notes. It was as if the company was a whole new place and opera was a medium more filled with performers looking to make an emotional connection and storytelling mark.
Best Ballet or Opera
Giselle (National Ballet of Canada)
The second act of The National Ballet of Canada’s 2012 production of Giselle was one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen. From the moment the great Heather Ogden entered as Myrtha with that stunning sequence of bourrées towards downstage right, the pleasant but middling memory of the somewhat silly first act was washed away completely and replaced by pure wonder. The most demanding and sublime corps work we’ve ever witnessed paired with Ogden, Guillaume Cote and Greta Hodgkinson’s evocative performances to create an otherworldly effect of sheer ballet brilliance.
Best Fringe/Summerworks/Showcase/Cabaret Performance
Brent Carver at The Global Cabaret Festival (Young Centre)
This category encases a wider variety of performances than any other in this year’s awards. From sketch performers to cabaret hosts to indie theatre actors, the spectrum seems largely incomparable. And perhaps it is. But the reason we paired Fringe, Summerworks, Showcase and Cabaret performers together is to assess a particular skill they’ve all mastered- the art of making an impact in only an hour. It’s by this criteria that we chose our winner, the performer amongst these standout nominees who made the biggest impact within his small, short performance. The legendary Brent Carver’s Global Cabaret performance stayed with us not because he’s legendary but because it exemplified the magic and joy that made him a theatrical legend in the first place.
Best Fringe/Summerworks/Showcase/Cabaret Production
The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare Bash’d)
The previous category celebrating the strange landscape of shows from summer festivals to concerts and cabarets celebrated what can be achieved by a single performer onstage with a microphone. Here we celebrate productions that went beyond that within similar time and money constraints. These are the companies who pushed the boundaries of what a fringe show can be, and the music directors who sought to present something new and big and exciting with a small idea and a lot of friends. Amongst the six inventive and engaging nominated productions, it was Shakespeare Bash’d that did the most within the confines of the Fringe Festival for their hit production of The Taming of the Shrew. With little money, little time, and even less space, they created an inaugural production that was wildly entertaining while telling one of Shakespeare’s trickiest tales with a deft hand and a big heart.
Best Student Actor
Mike Maloney in Stars of Tomorrow (Boston Conservatory)
While few student productions were reviewed this season, Mike Maloney stood out as a favorite performer, dazzling in his one-man show and graduate student capstone. Maloney was able to blend humor, sincerity, and skill in short skits and songs. His storytelling ability was unmatched and, with his charming personality, Maloney is sure to already be onto bigger and better things.
Best Student Actress
Georgia Ladd in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (BU on Broadway)
Spelling Bee was one of the strongest shows to come out of BU on Broadway in a while. There was no weak link and many onstage were talented both musically and comedically. Even so, Georgia Ladd stood out as Ms. Peretti. Her jokes were subtle and extremely well-timed, and her part of “The I Love You Song” literally brought tears to our eyes. But it was her ability to take an oft-overlooked role and make it her own clinched her this year’s Best Student Actress award. Ladd’s equally impressive voice and acting ability made her an inspiring example of up-and-coming student talent, and anyone you can make us cry from laughter and longing in the same 20 minutes wins forever.
We choose the winners of our regular My TV Award categories through a combination of fan, staff and editorial votes (33% each) and sometimes it works out that your favourites don’t win where they’re nominated. But we wanted to make sure they know how much you wanted them to win, thus Fan Favourite. We created this award last year when the support we heard from fans of Glee Project star Damian McGinty became undeniable (but he lost his category, Best Male Reality Star, to the staff pick- Boston Rob Mariano). We brought it back again this year because your voting habits have gotten even more intense.
Votes have been pouring in since January over email, Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section of the nominations announcement. But, unlike the My Theatre Awards which saw one winner emerge from a crowd of favourites, fans voting in the My TV Awards seemed to come down to two camps- the ballet kids and the Smash fans. Debra Messing and Megan Hilty of the sadly departed NBC musical dramedy drew more votes between them than we’d ever had before. But they split their own fanbase, making room for a dark horse contender from a wholly underrated show.
Your Favourite TV Star of 2012 Was……
Breaking Pointe‘s compelling ballerina lost her spot with Ballet West in season one of The CW’s fascinating reality series, but she won the hearts of more of our readers than any other nominee, snatching Fan Favourite easily out of the hands of a household name and the skyrocketing star who helped headline Smash. Messing and Hilty have a fan base to be reckoned with but what happened on behalf of Katie Martin can only be described as a groundswell.
Congratulations, Katie. You are officially beloved by the readers (and the writers) of My Entertainment World.
We had more fan votes this year than the My Theatre Awards have ever had before, so we decided to do what we started last year with the My TV Awards– choose a Fan Favourite who received overwhelming support throughout our extended awards season and Nominee Interview Series. We choose the winners of our regular categories through a combination of fan, staff and editorial votes (33% each) and sometimes it works out that your favourites don’t win where they’re nominated. But we wanted to make sure they know how much you wanted them to win, thus Fan Favourite.
Votes have been pouring in since January over email, Facebook, Twitter and in the comments section of the nominations announcement, and a few major frontrunners emerged. Hart House’s stellar production of Cabaret got a lot of love (especially for Best Actor nominee Michael-David Blostein) as did Flat Earth’s highly lauded Pillowman (and Best Supporting Actress Juliet Bowler in particular, who ended up winning her category in part because of your votes). Beauty & The Beast villain Matt Farcher’s fans were all over our Facebook page while playwright Thom Dunn devotees came out in droves to Tweet their support. Other almost-winners include Ewa Wolniczek, Amelia Sargisson, Joshua Browne, Joel Gomez, Jay Pooley, Fiona Bryson, Michael Spiroff, and- in second place- Graham Fleming.
Your Favourite Theatre Artist of 2012 Was……
The charming comedienne (and Best Student Actress nominee) who brought intelligence and heart to the oft-overlooked As You Like It ingenue Celia in The UC Follies’ outdoor production, O’Malley apparently won your hearts just as thoroughly as she won ours.
Congratulations, Siobhan. You are officially beloved by the readers (and the writers) of My Entertainment World.
There’s always at least one magnificent piece of work that just doesn’t fit into our annual awards, either because it stands head and shoulders above the rest of the work being done or because it’s simply so very different, incomparable. That’s what our yearly Honorary Awards are for. There’s one for each branch presenting awards: Cinema, TV, Games and Theatre, and it works basically like when the Tonys made up a category so they could reward the people who did the War Horse puppetry, there being, of course, no “Best Puppet” category at the Tonys.
Last year’s recipient, Andy Serkis, exemplifies the above paragraph perfectly by being so standalone in the field of motion capture performance that if we were to eventually make it a regular category he would dominate like Homeland at the Emmys. This year’s recipient is very different. Instead of being the singular go-to man for one particular art form, he is one of the industry’s most important multi-hypenates, a writer-director-producer extraordinaire whose transition from cult TV icon to blockbuster superstar was so perfect not even he could have written it.
Joss Whedon is, and has been for decades, a hero of the modern TV viewer. He proved that high art, fun entertainment, and smart business can work together with Buffy and Angel. He showed the power of fandom with Firefly. He broke through genre barriers his entire career, introduced the musical episode paradigm to television, stretched the limits of his medium, and proved that hard work, good friends and loyal fans can get things done even when the big guns won’t back you up (here’s to you, Dr. Horrible).
But it was only this year that he became an industry superstar beyond television, beyond his cult following, beyond geek culture. This was the year that my dad finally stopped calling him “Josh”. With three films, Joss Whedon took over 2012, defined the year in popular cinema, and changed his career forever.
First up was Cabin in the Woods. Produced and co-written by Whedon, the long-shelved MGM property finally hit theatres in April. The film boasted Whedon favourites Amy Acker, Fran Kranz and Tom Lenk alongside future Avenger Chris Hemsworth, the great Bradley Whitford and My TV favourite Jesse Williams. Directed and co-written by Drew Goddard, the film scored 6 My Cinema Award nominations and landed on two of our “Best of 2012” lists. It made horror fans out of horror haters, showed off its future-star stars in really interesting roles, transcended its genre (whether you classify it as horror, satire, or whathaveyou), and was generally a shockingly kick-ass movie- smart, funny, terrifying and oh-so-good.
Next up was the biggie- the make or break moment. The Avengers. This big-budget, star-studded extravaganza- the pinnacle of years of Marvel movie making- was the biggest undertaking in recent cinema history. And Whedon Nailed it. Killed it. Wrapped it up and sent it on a shuttle to Asgard. It received 5 My Cinema Award nominations (plus a win for Best Ensemble) and was one of only three films (with Argo and Looper) to make every single one of our “Best of” lists for 2012, coming out on top in the eyes of one of our toughest critics. The critically adored popcorn flick quickly became the third highest grossing film of all time and gave Whedon the clout to do whatever he wanted in the film industry pretty much forever.
So what did he do with that clout? He made a small, personal project at his house with his friends. Why? Because he could. Much Ado About Nothing (which we called “the Whedoniest film of all time”) premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in September of 2012 but didn’t hit wide release until June 2013 so its fate in the My Cinema Awards is yet unknown (check back in January for the 2013 nominations). But we loved it for its heart and melancholy and belly laughs. We loved it for its inner-circle casting and modern mindset, its Shakespeare geekiness and casual excellence. It was filmed literally in two weeks, self-funded and completely independently produced and yet there it was at the local AMC (or Cineplex Odeon or Regal Cinemas or whatever) come June, where smart customers chose it over Superman. Whedon might just be the only filmmaker on earth who could pull that off.
It’s not so much any of these achievements on their own that makes Joss Whedon this year’s Honorary Award Winner (though The Avengers alone might have still gotten him close) but rather their collective existence. The versatility of skill, the guts and talent and sheer determination to be himself and make what he loves that shines through all these films, those are the things that make Whedon’s contribution to film in 2012 simply incomparable.
The Nominees have been notified, the votes have been counted, the staff has weighed in, and the Winners Have Been Announced for the inaugural My Games Awards. Now it’s time for My Games to join the My TV/My Theatre/My Cinema tradition of Honorary Awards (a special award for someone whose work goes above and beyond but doesn’t quite fit into one of our regular categories).
This year we chose two winners for The My Games Honorary Award to honor special achievements in Art and Storytelling.
Here they are:
Journey by Thatgamecompany (PSN exclusive)
I can’t lie, one of the reasons Journey stuck out was because the robed and scarved figure reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Destiny. This turned out to not be a bad correlation. Your magic scarf adventure was one of the prettiest uses of brown I have ever seen. It made me realize that the problem with brown desert shooters is not the brown, it’s the laziness. This game used style and composition in a way that should make other games ashamed of themselves.
Dear Esther by thechineseroom
Dear Esther is more on an experience than a game – but it’s a really amazing experience. As you explore an island listening to monologues, you learn about the characters in a way that allows you to draw your own conclusions. There are no big action moments, but small realizations in a calm, after-life-esque setting that left me in a contemplative mood, questioning what a video game is.
No actor in the history of television has been a part of so many great shows as this year’s My TV Honorary Award winner. We honestly believe that to be true. He’s a three-time My TV Award nominee and has been churning out memorable television performances for 20 years on no fewer than 5 of our favourite shows.
In 2012, Peter Krause did his best work yet as Adam Braverman, facing Kristina’s cancer diagnosis with immense compassion and human frailty. We could have given him Best Actor in a Dramedy for his trouble but we wanted to do something to acknowledge the obscenely unacknowledged body of work that proceeded this extraordinary season of Parenthood. We wanted to say a bit more and cheer a little bit more loudly for Peter Krause, and that’s what The Honorary Award is for.
The actor’s first standout role was in 1998 on the brilliant but short-lived Aaron Sorkin sitcom Sports Night. That show- one of our all time favourites– cast Krause as Casey McCall, the charming and intelligent anchor or a nightly cable sportscast but, as funny as the role was, it also demanded deep-seated anger, paternal guilt, severe disillusionment and the shepherding of both one of TV’s most fascinating friendships and one of its most complicated romances. Casey, on the surface, introduced us to Peter Krause’s self-effacing charm and deep-voiced oldschool leading man ways, but he’s also one of the greatest sitcom characters ever who transcended his drama and hinted unmissably that Krause was more than just a pretty face.
His next notable part was a complete 180 from Casey in HBO’s groundbreaking arty drama Six Feet Under. Here Krause had one of the hardest tasks you can give an actor coming off a character as winning as a Sorkin hero- imperfection. In Krause’s hands, the infuriating, immature, self-righteous, rash, restless Nate Fisher had a rich inner life and underlying compassion strong enough to win the audience’s loyalty and care, if not their unconditional affection. It was likely the most demanding role of his career and certainly the darkest as Nate explored life and love and death and disappointment in sometimes truly ugly ways.
In 2006 Krause headlined an excellent and fascinating mini-series for the Sci-Fi Channel called The Lost Room then moved on to star in the potential-filled Dirty Sexy Money in 2007. The latter was plagued with uneven writing (the worst of which hit Krause’s key but underserved character Nick) but the cast shined as one of the greatest ensembles in recent years, headed by Donald Sutherland as the morally ambiguous patriarch of an outrageously wealthy and powerful Manhattan dynasty and Krause as the outsider-turned-insider who serves as the family’s legal council.
The early cancellation of Dirty Sexy Money (after only two strike-shortened seasons) cut Nick George down before he evolved into the sort of character that could take full advantage of Krause’s unique blend of leading man gravitas and character actor nuance. But thank god it was cancelled (even if we were fond of it, which we absolutely were) because the cancellation of Dirty Sexy Money cleared the way for Krause to join the fantastic ensemble where he currently serves as the heroic everyman Adam Braverman. As written by the incomparable Jason Katims, Parenthood is a modern masterpiece of family drama with beautifully real interlocking dialogue, hilarious moments of important levity, and a dedication to honest emotion. As Adam- the straight edged father of a teenage daughter and a young son with Aspergers- Krause gives us the most indelibly real portrait of contemporary American fatherhood since… there is no since, he’s at the edge of the evolution of television paternity. He’s well-meaning and warm, immovable, embarrassing, judgemental and the sort of relatable that makes an actual difference to the viewer even after the television is turned off. As a husband, as a son, as a brother, as a business partner- Adam is not just a perfectly played portrait of fatherhood, he’s a perfectly played portrait of a person and no one deserves more thanks for that than Peter Krause.
Here’s to the most consistent actor in the television landscape, whose dedication to the medium has given us a host of fully developed characters whom we’ve had the privilege to watch whether it was over 3 episodes or 70.
A big thing happened to Toronto’s commercial theatre scene in 2012: Dancap Productions closed its doors. That’s huge. It essentially cuts big-budget theatre in half in the city. It reflects the massive (negative) shift in tourism over the last decade and leaves Mirvish Productions with a total monopoly over the presentation of Broadway hits and National Tours in Toronto.
But instead of focusing on where their departure leaves us, let’s celebrate that Dancap was here at all. Money-minded business man and earnest theatre patron Aubrey Dan started the company in 2007 and, in the 5 years that followed, kept David Mirvish on his toes by bringing in the exact sort of tourist-catered big-ticket Broadway fare that had made the Toronto dynasty so successful. Dan filled the massive gap left by the downfall of Phantom impresario Garth Drabinsky and gave musical theatre fans just a little too far north of New York the opportunity to see Broadway’s artistic successes like Next to Normal and In the Heights that might never have come to town otherwise.
The smash success of the Dancap’s production of Jersey Boys gave the city hope of being the theatrical centre it had been in the 90s, with a healthy competition between at least two major presenters. But damning border legislation and a creative rut in New York cut down theatrical tourism too drastically during Dancap’s tenure and the tricky business of big-risk theatre finally stopped making financial sense. Though the door is open for Dan to come galloping back in on the back of the Next Big Thing, for now the short golden years of Dancap are over. They will be missed.
To thank him for the daring and exuberant years he spent multiplying the scope of Toronto commercial theatre, we’re naming Aubrey Dan and Dancap Productions our Honorary My Theatre Award Winner for this year.
CLICK HERE to read our Exclusive Q&A with the man behind Dancap- an exit interview of sorts, a profile of a ballsy company and a celebratory look back on the who, what, why and how of Dan’s dream of theatrical domination.
Last year we introduced the My Theatre Emerging Artist Award to our season. This year we’ve extended it to become a part of the My TV and My Cinema Awards as well. Here’s where we honour someone who made our radar in a big way for the first time during the 2012 season.
For our very first My Cinema Emerging Artist Award, there was a clear choice: Tom Holland, the now-17-year-old actor whose description-defying performance in The Impossible landed him in our Best Actor in a Drama race alongside some of the most legendary actors on earth (Day-Lewis, Hoffman, Phoenix, Hawkes, Gere- and he came awfully close to beating them all). The shattering and uplifting film about the devastating 2004 tsunami and one family who managed to survive it was one of the greatest underrated pieces of the year. Holland was its star.
Separated from onscreen father Ewan McGregor and the two adorable actors who played his younger brothers, Holland as eldest son Lucas carried the majority of the film alongside Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (whose character was severely injured and thus largely reduced to moaning). The stories of the bond created on set between Holland and Watts are lovely (illustrated beautifully in this speech) but the power of Holland’s work onscreen speaks for itself. With fierce determination and a beautifully emotive performance, Holland (only 14 at the time of filming) heaved a huge film onto his back and did it with more ease and artistry than most adult actors.
A veteran of the Billy Elliot musical in London’s West End, Holland’s breakout performance in The Impossible marked him quickly as someone who has it in him to be that elusive thing- both a massive movie star and a truly great actor.
Continuing our 2012 Emerging Artist Awards over into My TV, this recipient- at 35- is a fair bit older than the others (the My Cinema Emerging Artist was 14 when he made the movie!) but we’re pretty sure he counts as Emerging because 2012 saw him go from “that guy you sorta might recognize from that small part in that one thing” to “Hey, I love that guy!” but he’s not yet at a “Holy Crap, it’s Jake Johnson!” level for most people.
Even for the first few months of New Girl (which happened in 2011), Johnson wasn’t the star of the show that he would become (and go on to win Best Actor in a Comedy in the 2012 My TV Awards- holla!). He was overshadowed by Zooey Deschanel’s celebrity and Max Greenfield’s sparkly brilliance (Greenfield, by the way, tied for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy in the 2011 awards). But 2012 was the year that the New Girl writers fell madly in love with Nick, and thus so did the audience. And we fell in love with Jake Johnson in the process (he also co-starred in Safety Not Guaranteed, which helped).
First came the uniquely Johnsonian character detail- everything from Nick’s posture to his awkward vocal cadence came from the actor’s strong sense of who this guy is as both a human being and an object of funniness. You got the sense that the development of Nick was as much Johnson’s doing as the writers’ (something that happens less than you’d think). In the first half of 2012, Johnson emerged as a really really funny character actor.
In the second half of 2012, New Girl followed Nick and Jess down the rabbit hole of a potential relationship and, in the process, introduced yet another entirely new Jake Johnson to the world- Jake Johnson, romantic leading man. His chemistry with Deschanel and the sincerity he brought (and continues to bring in 2013) to the storyline both point towards a future for Johnson that goes well beyond his extraordinary sitcom. He could be a great comedy actor, a big rom-com movie star, a schlubby everyman who lands the perfect role in the perfect indie film about modern male arrested development and earns himself an Oscar nod- the potential abounds, even at 35, because Jake Johnson is an Emerging Artist.
The 2012 My Theatre Emerging Artist Award Winner:
This is the second year in a row that My Theatre’s Emerging Artist Award has gone to someone who serves as the face of their theatre company (this year’s Honorary Award did too). The reason for that is fairly simple- the regular My Theatre Awards have a ton of acting categories, one for playwrights and another couple for directors and designers, but Artistic Directors (or, in this case, Associate Artistic Directors/Directors of New Projects) are a little harder to nail down in terms of singular, awardable achievement. They’re often also actors, writers and directors, but it’s the intangibles of having a great ambassador that often sets a company apart. They plan seasons and recruit troops; they set the tone of the company and project the accompanying mission statement to the world; they lure critics and charm audiences and generally foster goodwill that will set the company up for success even when the work itself isn’t perfect.
For Single Thread Theatre in Toronto, that person is Alex Dault, our Emerging Artist for 2012.
Working closely with the historical venues and museums that the company uses for their site-specific pieces, Dault plays the dual role of administrator and creator- negotiating the logistics of using the space and mounting the play while (at least in the case of 2012’s Campbell House Story) working with museum staff to craft an original script of historical fiction around the location. Single Thread’s productions are often some of the largest and most complicated of any indie company in Toronto, their success a testament to the organization at the top of the company. An actor, director, and My Theatre Award-nominated playwright, Dault’s holistic contribution to Single Thread is impressive, but it’s the aforementioned ambassadorship that made him our Emerging Artist. As both the audience and critics’ first point of contact, Dault is like the host of each production (sometimes literally when conducting the company’s earnest post-show Q&As, complete with hilariously charming snacks for the guests). He’s smart and engaged- always ready to answer questions about the show or the space- and one of the friendliest people on the Toronto theatre scene.
The face of one of Toronto’s fastest rising theatre companies (they just completed a season as CanStage’s Resident Emerging Artist Company), Alex Dault is one of the city’s most promising all-round theatre artists in no small part because of how excellently he handles that role.
CLICK HERE for our exclusive interview.
The 2012 My Cinema Performer of the Year:
It broke our hearts when we looked at the category breakdowns in this year’s My Cinema (and My TV, for that matter) Awards and realized that Mark Duplass wouldn’t win anything.He’d barely missed out on being nominated in the Best Actor in a Drama category for his superb improvised performance in Your Sister’s Sister and now one of 2012’s most valuable and versatile performers only had one shot at a My Cinema Award.And that one shot was in the strongest category of the year: Best Actor in a Comedy. That race was Ridiculous. Bradley Cooper ended up winning it (Bradley Cooper who, by the way, should have won the Oscar in our estimation for the role of his career so far) but not without heavy competition from Andy Samberg’s career re-defining performance in Celeste & Jesse Forever, the legendary Tommy Lee Jones in his most devastatingly human role in years (Hope Springs), the ever-amazing Paul Dano firing on all cylinders as a character written just for him in our favourite film of the year (Ruby Sparks). And, of course, Duplass whose performance as Kenneth in the beautiful, hilarious, mind-expanding indie Safety Not Guaranteed was one of the year’s most memorable.
Duplass was the extraordinary, film-defining headliner of two of our top 5 favourite films of the year (Your Sister’s Sister, Safety Not Guaranteed) and a supporting player in another top-ten favourite (Zero Dark Thirty), all while holding down a recurring part on our favourite new sitcom (The Mindy Project), a lead role in an FX cult comedy (The League), writing/directing/producing an indie film with his brother (The Do-Deca-Pentathalon) and being impossibly witty and loveable all the while. (He was also in People Like Us but we like to pretend that movie doesn’t exist, and Darling Companion but we think that movie might actually not exist).
He may have lost out on all the awards those individual projects could have won him (so close!) but, put together, the effect they had on our cinematic (and televisual) year just can’t be argued with. It was a toss-up between Duplass and Chris Messina as to who would take My Cinema and who would take My TV as Performers of the Year (they’re both major contributors to both) but on the strength of those two leading roles alone, Duplass really made our 2012 at the movies.
The 2012 My TV Performer of the Year:
When we announced that Mark Duplass was our My Cinema Performer of the Year, we acknowledged that it was a close race between him and Chris Messina. Here was a guy winning the My Cinema Award when a solid portion of the work we loved him for happened on the small screen (namely, The Mindy Project and a little bit The League). Messina, on the other hand, actually caught our attention on film early in 2012. He was in everything, turning in strong supporting performances in some of the year’s best movies- Ruby Sparks, Celeste & Jesse Forever, Argo (that’s 3 of our top 5! The other two, coincidentally, both starred Duplass). Chris Messina was in no fewer than 7 films in 2012, but the ones that stood out to us were all supporting performances while Duplass had been the lead in his standout movies. TV was a different story. Chris Messina was either a regular or a recurring guest star on 3 different series in 2012 (that’s a bizarre amount of work). The performances were all complicated and varied, working with vastly different tones and some of the most challenging writing in the industry. Two of those shows (and the showrunners who created them) are particular favourites around these parts).
First came Reese Lansing, the stick-in-the-mud President of AWN on Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. In season one especially, it was a thankless role. Reese was a snivelling prat in a world of eloquent heroes. But he was a well-played snivelling prat with one of the hardest jobs in the series- be the bad guy but don’t lose the audience. Messina eventually got to redeem Reese, adding layers of humanity onto what he was only able to hint at in season one- but that’s an issue for 2013.
Messina entered the fall 2012 TV season by jumping head-on into his first series regular role, the one that ultimately clinched him as our Performer of the Year. It’s one thing to bring hard-shelled nuance to the role of Paul Dano’s non-genius brother, or balance goofiness with machismo while wooing Rashida Jones away from Andy Samberg, or spout Sorkin monologues at top speed, or raise the tension in Oscar season’s best caper-drama; and doing them all in one year is pretty damn impressive. But it’s something else entirely to bring the sort of complicated humanity to a role that Chris Messina brought (and continues to bring) to Danny Castellano on The Mindy Project. Brusque, macho exterior aside, Danny is nothing like anything else Messina has ever played. He’s a dramatic actor, so his incredible effectiveness in a romantic comedy sitcom is impressive (I suppose it was hinted at in Julie & Julia, but who remembers the non-Meryl parts of Julie & Julia?). Danny is one of the best new characters of the year and when paired with a nuanced villain like Reese And an intricate role in the final season of Damages And a body of film work as diverse and awesome as Chris Messina’s in 2012, our My TV Performer of the Year was an easy choice to make.
The 2012 My Theatre Performer of the Year:
Every once in a while, in the middle of writing a review, we’ll be overcome with a feeling of déjà vu. Whether it’s the Sorkin loyalty on our TV branch or My Cinema’s longstanding affection for Soderbergh, sometimes we find ourselves praising a single artist so much that we start to worry about sounding objective. So we try to argue with ourselves, bring other staffers in on the debate, generally troubleshoot for favouritism. But there are some people who keep coming up as praise-worthy, no matter how hard we try to be on them. Unfortunately for the reputation we wish we had as universally tough critics, some people just kick ass at what they do and we can’t help but write about it.
For the Toronto division of our My Theatre branch, the most glaring example of this phenomenon is Soulpepper’s Gregory Prest. The first time we ever saw him was in a play we didn’t actually like that much- Judith Thompson’s White Biting Dog in 2011. Fresh out of the Soulpepper Academy, he played an odd character pretending to be someone he wasn’t and the performance was so captivating that it earned him his first My Theatre Award nomination (for Best Supporting Actor). We then missed his first big star turn at Toronto’s best company (as Oswald in Ghosts), because life is tragic like that, but caught up with him again at the start of what would turn out to be a remarkably full season of seriously solid performances.
Gregory Prest’s 2012 began in the crucial role of Edmund Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s masterpiece Long Day’s Journey Into Night (a production that would go on to win Best Play in the 2012 My Theatre Awards as well as Best Supporting Actor for Prest). He then proceeded to steal production after production as a romantic leading man in You Can’t Take It With You, a wacky but tragic king/dictator in The Royal Comedians, and the sweet and high-achieving neighbour Bernard in the re-mount of 2010’s Death of a Salesman. He also moved furniture in The Crucible (let’s hear it for Soulpepper’s dedication to a true rep system!) and co-created/starred in a wildly original and incredibly fun kids show, Alligator Pie (which just happened to win the My Theatre Award for Best New Work- that’s 2 wins from 3 nominations in 2 years, for those of you keeping track). We can’t think of anyone else who has amassed such an impressive body of work in a single theatrical season in recent memory.
His 2013 has been standout as well with Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, The Barber of Seville and (most fantastically ) Angels in America already under his belt and a re-mount of Alligator Pie still to come. But 2012 was the year that we almost started to get sick of writing about the incredible talent of Soulpepper’s modern leading man.*
*This is a lie, we will never get sick of writing about Gregory Prest. Unless he starts delivering bad performances. Somehow we don’t see that happening any time soon.
CLICK HERE for our in-depth discussion about the marathon 2012 season that made him our Performer of the Year.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners and Thank You for a great 2012!