Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages, the moment you’ve been waiting for (for not all that long since last year’s awards season dragged on Forever) has finally arrived: It’s time we celebrated the year that was 2013!
In January we announced all our nominees:
Then we featured no fewer than 97 of those nominees in our annual Nominee Interview Series.
The full list of interviews can be found HERE.
Then it was time to announce The Winners! On March 25th, the Boston branch of My Theatre hosted the nominated artists at Club Cafe for the first ever My Theatre Awards Ceremony. The Toronto theatre community followed suit two weeks later, joining us at Hugh’s Room as we handed out another 24 awards.
Then the announcements of all the award winners hit the website. The links to each branch’s awards can be found below.
And here’s the full list of all the winners:
Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
We love Joaquin. We’ve always loved Joaquin, or at least since we first encountered him in Gladiator (how amazing was he in Gladiator?!) but his performance in Her simply blew our minds. We consider him the best actor of his generation (yes, a generation that includes Christian Bale, so you know we mean business) so how does he get Oscar-snubbed? We don’t know, but we’re making up for it here.
Olivia Wilde (Drinking Buddies)
Olivia Wilde is so underrated. We don’t know if people are underestimating her because of her face or because she was on The OC or what but with her thoughtful, evocative, nuanced performance in Drinking Buddies (all improvised, by the way) she further solidified her place as one of our favourite actresses in Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actor
Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World)
More than Robert Downey Jr, more than Joss Whedon, more even than Kevin Feige, Tom Hiddleston is our Marvel Studios MVP. Okay, fine, that’s an overstatement (especially re: Feige) but Loki is the character we tune in for and Hiddleston is the reason why we do. The twinkle in his eye, the dry delivery, the superiority and inferiority complexes fighting it out just beneath his carefully constructed surface- he may be in superhero movies but he’s working just as hard as he did on Coriolanus (which was superb, in case you were wondering).
Best Supporting Actress
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
What’s the use in bucking the trend on this one? Lupita is a shiny, wonderful beacon of strength and smarts- exactly the sort of next-gen leading lady Hollywood needs. Her powerful performance in the Best Picture Oscar Winner was undeniable.
Forest Whitaker! Oprah! David Oyelowo! Terrence Howard! Lenny Kravitz! Cuba Gooding Jr.! Robin Williams! Liev Schreiber! John Cusack! James Marsden! Minka Kelly! Jesse Williams! Elijah Kelley! Mariah Carey! Alex Pettyfer! Alan Rickman! Jane Fonda! Vanessa Redgrave! I mean, come on. Top marks to Oprah, Oyelowo, Howard and Marsden who were our favourites.
Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby)
Baz took a leap with The Great Gatsby. Though big is kind of his thing, he went really big here. Glitzy, anachronistic, artificial- the effect was both stunning and distancing. The fact that that was the intended effect seemed to baffle critics and somehow this film got panned. But we think it was not only a strong directorial vision but an interesting and apt interpretation of Fitzgerald’s themes. No other director put as big of a stamp on their film this year and we think the risk paid off.
Spike Jonze (Her)
Her was simply an astounding feat of storytelling. Jonze’s futuristic world was thoughtfully detailed (his thoughts on the future of video game technology alone were impressive) and his characters crisp and deep but what got to us was the inventiveness of his storytelling, his emotional capacity, his ability to see beyond the typical limitations most filmmakers would have explored in the relationship between Theodore and Samantha. Her was a work of staggering imagination and insight, easily the best of the year.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Thinking about Best Picture, we try to make it about the whole movie. Something that got everything right from script to direction to acting to music. And this year we wanted to go with something ambitious after paying tribute to a lot of smaller films in 2012. When we thought about a top-to-bottom flawless execution, the film that came closest was The Wolf of Wall Street. Fantastic performances all around in one of our favourite scripts of the year with stylistic, focused direction and on-point details in costuming, set dressing, music and cinematography. When literally the only thing a film does wrong is editing (and even then, it’s just the length, not the pace), it’s got to be the best picture of the year.
Emerging Artist Award
Miles Teller is one of those young actors who radiates intelligence. Okay, maybe not in Footloose– but that was intentional. In most roles, he plays smarter-than-your-average-bear motormouths (our favourite kind of folk) and he does so with charm to spare. He first caught our eye in 2010’s screen adaptation of Rabbit Hole as the guilt-ridden Jason then flipped the switch to play the ebullient simpleton Willard in 2011’s Footloose (a ridiculous film that was enjoyable just for Teller’s delightful performance and the few scenes pulled straight from the 1984 original). In 2013 he had what is being thought of as his breakout role in The Spectacular Now opposite Shailene Woodley (he was sensational as charismatic but troubled Sutter) but he’s already working on topping it. With no fewer than 5 films on the docket for 2014 and another 4 already scheduled beyond that, Miles Teller is a name you will soon know, if you don’t already. So far in 2014 he’s stood out in Divergent as angry Dauntless trainee Peter and completely stolen the show in one of our favourite films so far this year- That Awkward Moment (don’t roll your eyes- the trailers were terrible but That Awkward Moment was really pretty great). He’s clever, he’s unique, he has a huge range- just you wait for Miles Teller.
Performer of the Year
blah blah blah, McConaissance. Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf of Wall Street, Mud (which was dumb, but still counts), and now True Detective– it seems that there’s no stoping the new, serious McConaughey. We love a good remodelling; anytime the world is open to accepting something new from someone they’ve long-since pigeonholed, we want to give the world a standing ovation. We’re proud of Matt’s determination to be taken seriously and we’re thrilled to see him really shine when he picks the right roles. Is there a side of us that wishes he would make The Wedding Planner 2? Of course there is. But there’s still no arguing with his dominance over 2013 in films maybe just a little bit less enchanting than The Wedding Planner.
Robert Lopez & Kristen Anderson-Lopez w/ Christophe Beck (Frozen)
Some people weren’t as delighted by Frozen‘s script as we were. We personally loved Elsa’s journey and Anna’s struggles, the contrasting prince characters and amusing sidekicks, not to mention the beautiful, forward-thinking resolution. But the one thing we all agree on is the music. A much bigger hullaballoo should have surrounded the final letter of Robert Lopez’s newly minted EGOT. He and Kristen Anderson-Lopez’s songs captured that old Alan Menken Disney magic (the use of strings alone…) while Christophe Beck created some of the most beautiful score for film this year. It’s been almost two decades since a Disney soundtrack dominated our ipods; Robert, Kristen and Christophe brought that magical feeling back while breaking our hearts then making them soar. So there’s only one question left: Do you want to build a snowman?
“The Gravel Road” by Christopher Scott (So You Think You Can Dance)
We had the hardest time chosing just one Christopher Scott routine to nominate in this category. His presence in the past couple seasons has raised the SYTYCD choreographic game immensely (especially when it comes to group routines). His winning rocking chair routine was thrilling, but consider this a win for his entire season of standout numbers.
Best Writing for a Drama or Dramedy
“Red Team III” by Aaron Sorkin (The Newsroom)
For so many years, we were able to give this award to the incredible work that happens on underrated shows like Parenthood and Shameless– shows that are impeccably written by people who aren’t very famous. But our favourite living writer Aaron Sorkin is back on TV and proving once again that he has a knack for sophomore seasons. This fantastic episode (in our opinion, The Newsroom‘s best) was the culmination of what will likely be the series-defining story arc.
Best Writing for a Comedy
“You’ve Got Sext” by Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project)
The best episodes of The Mindy Project are almost all actually written by Mindy. That makes sense; the show is so uniquely her sensibility that another writer isn’t likely to nail the sentimentality, sense of humour and point of view quite the same way (unless it’s her bff/soulmate BJ Novak, he totally gets her). “You’ve Got Sext”, written (of course) by Mindy herself, was one of the best episodes of the series so far. The A plot showcased the Mindy/Danny chemistry perfectly while the subplot masterfully sent up modern flirtation culture while doing the unthinkable in giving Morgan a decent storyline (and who else is absolutely loving the addition of Peter?).
Best Drama or Dramedy
Let’s hear it for amazing Canadian television! Orphan Black is the first Canadian television show that competes fully on the level of the top American shows (we’ve had decent Lifetime-esque dramedies and CBS-like procedurals before, but Orphan Black is Emmy-worthy). Tatiana Maslany is unthinkably brilliant in the leading role(s), a solid supporting cast fills in around her (what up, Felix!), and the writing is super tight (quite the achievement when you’re dealing with high-concept sci-fi). Bravo, Canada and Temple Street Productions, we’re so very very proud of you.
Orange is the New Black
Netflix is really pushy. No matter your taste profile, they sent Orange is the New Black, Arrested Development and House of Cards to the top of your recommendations until you gave in and watched every single episode. Then, and only then, would they let you move on to the standup comedy specials and 90s rom-coms that made you sign up in the first place. Orange is the New Black is the best thing ever to come out of computer-vs-human bullying. It may not have seemed like something you’d like, it may not have even won you over right away, but everyone we know who has made it all the way through the series (mostly because Netflix made them) swears this is their new favourite show. The richness of the amazing cast of characters, the intelligence of the comedy, the strength of the writing and performances from top to bottom- a massive, game-changing achievement. Force us to watch anything you want, Netflix; we trust you now.
Best Reality Series
Dancing with the Stars
Okay, just hear us out. We know that choosing Dancing with the Stars as the Best Reality Show of the year sounds ridiculous. But they had two fantastic seasons back to back. Seriously fantastic. Like, Andy Dick dancing a waltz dedicated to sobriety fantastic. Best celebrity dancer ever on the show fantastic (we’re talking season 16 winner Kellie Pickler). Two Hough-tastic seasons in a row fantastic. Season 17 featuring the strongest lineup of all time fantastic. Snooki winning us over fantastic. Corbin Bleu in gravity boots fantastic. Amber Riley step dancing in a bar and shutting down anti-fat sentiment by winning big fantastic. A new favourite Chmerkovskiy fantastic (Val was so great with both Zendaya and Elizabeth). Valerie Freaking Harper Fantastic (everything about Valerie and her decision to dance- her happiness, her determination, her love for adorable partner Tristan). It’s a seriously silly show but we loved it in 2013.
Best Variety or Talk Show/Special
Moshe Kasher: Live in Oakland
Netflix had our back this year. Just as it forced Orange is the New Black down our throats, we had very little choice when it came to watching this standup special. When we finally gave in, we watched it 4 times through then bought Moshe’s memoir. Loved it, couldn’t get enough of it. The first 15 minutes of this special from the comedian’s hometown, in particular, are pure gold. Pure Dante-quoting, Star Trek-marathoning, Irish-hating, internet-skewering gold.
Best New Series
Super Fun Night
To our utter dismay, it’s looking like this Best New Series winner may be included in the 2014 awards under Best Canceled Series. But that can’t stop us from celebrating its sweet and amusing first season run. We understand how this show got written off as quickly as it did but we so wish that hadn’t happened, because those of us who stuck by Rebel Wilson and her vague premise were rewarded with intricate, fun and relatable characters stuck in emotional places far too human to be regularly seen on TV. And musical numbers.
Best Canceled Series
The television landscape is both a significantly sadder and somehow stronger place without Happy Endings. The former because Happy Endings was delightful, clever and just generally extremely well-executed. We genuinely miss it in our TV lineup (seriously, ABC? You thought Back in the Game was a better bet than this?) The only reason I say that the landscape is stronger without Happy Endings is because quite a few of its actors have found their way onto shows that have greatly benefitted from their presence. New Girl- struggling in a third season story slump- brought back Damon Wayans Jr’s Coach (last seen in the pilot) and with him a whole boatload of new story potential. Ne’er-do-well Dave is now on Parenthood as Max’s kind teacher helping Adam and Kristina start a charter school for kids with Aspergers (and romancing Julia a little bit on the side, which we’re shocked that we Joel fans were in support of). Best of all, Adam Pally has joined The Mindy Project full time and quickly become the best non-Mindy/Danny character on the show. We can tell this 8-episode arc is leading to something big with Peter and can’t wait to see what it is (we have a few guesses). We miss Happy Endings terribly, but its cast is still making TV better. Just not together.
Best Ensemble in a Drama or Dramedy
Game of Thrones
Way back when in season one- before the first massive twist of the twisty series- there was, arguably, a leading man on Game of Thrones. That has long since not been the case. The epic sprawl of this show paired with how consistently good it is performance-wise can only point to one thing- one of the strongest ensembles ever. This might be the only show in the world where you can kill off a giant gaggle of Massively Important Characters and still feel like the show (if maybe not your heart) will recover.
Best Lead Actor in a Drama or Dramedy
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal)
The creative success of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal adaptation on NBC is a massive coup for network television (if The Following had been any good, it might have been a whole network revitalization. Alas). Proving that creativity and daring Can, in fact, have a place on an FCC-regulated platform, Hannibal isn’t just good, it was necessary. Following in the footsteps of one of the most legendary film performances of all time, Mad Mikkelsen is the lynchpin whose terrifying, brilliant performance makes Hannibal possible.
Best Lead Actress in a Drama or Dramedy
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
What’s the point in us droning on and on about Tatiana? (Who also, by the way, is nominated for a My Cinema Award for her performance in the Canadian indie Picture Day). She’s incomparable. She’s mesmerizing. She’s almost inhumanly chameleonic. Not only does she play 7 (and counting) wildly different characters with great nuance- a huge feat of talent- but she commands about 95% of the screentime entirely on her own (or with herself, or multiple versions of herself)- an unfathomable feat of stamina and dedication. This is a strong category with lots of amazing actresses (we’re particularly obsessed with Emmy Rossum- look for her in next year’s awards because she was simply genius in the 2014 Shameless season) but Tatiana Maslany does the same calibre of work, literally times 7.
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama or Dramedy
Jordan Gavaris (Orphan Black)
Tatiana is Orphan Black. She plays all 3 (4? 5?) of the top-billed characters plus a gaggle of others. But she’d be nothing without Gavaris as the world’s best sidekick. Sarah’s foster brother Felix is in many ways the heart of the show (Cosima’s sweet but most of those clones are pretty darn cold). He’s also responsible for pretty much every moment of levity throughout all of season one. He’s witty, charming, compelling and at times utterly heartbreaking- someone we’re determined not to let you overlook just because he’s working with a superstar.
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama or Dramedy
Lily Rabe (American Horror Story)
American Horror Story is always full of amazing actors at full force. The craziness of the show allows the performers to go big, go crazy, generally go for it. In the series’ hugely successful second season, Lily Rabe started out as a nice, normal nun… until the possession kicked in. A terrifying tour de force.
Best Ensemble in a Comedy
Orange is the New Black
Netflix’s masterpiece clinched this award back in December when were narrowing down our list of nominees and almost went crazy trying to choose our favourite cast member for the Best Supporting Actress category. We generally try to include maximum one person from each show per category, but we broke the rule to nominate Natasha Lyonne (Nicky) and Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes). But that’s just because we needed to make room for great work from other shows. If we could have, we would have filled the entire category with the likes of Danielle Brooks (Taystee), Taryn Manning (Pennsatucky) and so many others- not to mention the excellent men who play second fiddle so well. One of the best comedic ensembles of the year. One of the best dramatic ones too. Really, one of the best ensembles we’ve ever seen.
Best Lead Actor in a Comedy
Stephen Merchant (Hello Ladies)
Man, we loved this show entirely too much for it to already be dead. Stephen Merchant has such enjoyable timing and knows how to walk the line of likability just perfectly. His chemistry with Christine Woods was dead-on and the character made perfect use of his Stephen Merchant-ness. Anchored by a splendid leading performance, Hello Ladies had heart, direction and an honest, contemporary point of view. Stuart Pritchard deserved better than cancelation.
Best Lead Actress in a Comedy
Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
It’s easy to get caught up talking about the men of Always Sunny. They created the show, they write the show, they’ve gone on to marginal fame or guest spots on The Mindy Project. But Kaitlin Olson’s work on the sneakily genius FX sitcom is So Good. Sweet Dee is this fantastically brazen, embrace-the-ugliness, self-important, self-involved, deluded nitwit of a character who also happens to be an under-appreciated comedic gem. Her chemistry with the guys is magnificent and her comic timing unmatched. This show seems to just keep getting better and Kaitlin Olson is one of the main reasons why.
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Rick Hoffman (Suits)
We love Suits. We can never quite get away with nominating it for best writing (though we think it’s one of the wittiest shows on the air) or best actor (no matter how much we love Gabriel Macht) or even best supporting actress for Donna (blame Orange is the New Black for that one, it’s now a stacked category). But we can totally make room for Rick Hoffman. Not only is Louis one of the funniest characters on TV, but Rick will occasionally take said hilarity and punch you in the stomach with it, delivering some sort of heartbreaking moment of devastation and loneliness that you were not expecting, even though you should have been. He’s taken an infuriating comic relief character and turned him into a loveable underdog who is both admirable and pitiable, and really into ballet. Remember when he romanced Melissa McCarthy on Samantha Who? This is even better than that.
Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black)
It’s hard to describe the genius of Uzo Aduba in this role. She’s hilarious and terrifying in equal measure, designed to be freely ostracized and laughed at as an absurd hardship imposed upon Taylor Schilling’s good girl convict. Then she introduces herself as “Suzanne” and the sitcom-programmed part of your brain that was wholly okay thinking of her as a scary/funny cartoon gets beaten to a bloody pulp by the empathetic side of you who recognizes her, for the first time, as a fellow human being (a fictional one, but you know what I mean). We’ve never seen a performance quite like this one.
Best Guest Actor
Hamish Linklater (The Newsroom)
Our love of Hamish Linklater knows no bounds (Note: when we say “our”, in this case, we just mean “Kelly’s”; it’s a pretty Kelly-specific thing). We first discovered him as the brilliant scene-stealing nanny/brother on The New Adventures of Old Christine (a bizarrely overlooked show considering what a knockout cast it had) and now happily spend our Thursdays juggling our niche love for him with our more typical love for James Wolk as they foil each other as the best things about The Crazy Ones. But what happens when you love someone and then they’re cast on a show written by the man literally listed on your Facebook profiled under “Religion”? Perfection, that’s what happens. Holy crap was Hamish Linklater good on The Newsroom. Jerry Dantana was a great part, but he easily could have entered scapegoat “villain” territory. Or at least he could have if played by anyone less brilliant than Hamish Linklater (playing notably against type considering he’s known for sitcom goofball sweethearts). He was the key to the season-long story arc that gave season two a necessary shape and direction, and he nailed it.
Best Guest Actress
Merritt Wever (New Girl)
New Girl‘s second season was pretty special but we also saw season one’s standout character Schmidt start to fade a little bit. Enter Elizabeth. Dispensed with far too quickly in season three, Elizabeth was this beautiful, hilarious, grounded portal into an entirely different Schmidt. A truer Schmidt. We love CeeCee but we’re Team Elizabeth all the way- she loved him back when he was just himself and we’ve never seen him happier. Merritt Wever was such a refreshing addition to the show with her utter sincerity and dry delivery- please please please bring her back!
Best Sketch Star/Talk or Variety Host
Fred Armisen & Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia)
We said no ties this year, otherwise this would have been a split decision with the other comedy duo who do an entire sketch show on their own, Key & Peele. There’s something crazy impressive about the versatility of ther performers in shows like Portlandia. Aside from his ability to play any race on earth, I never thought of Fred Armisen as an incredibly diverse SNL performer. But on Portlandia his array of hilarious characters is simply genius, topped only by Carrie’s own roster of crazy hipsters. One of the most engaging duos on TV, Fred and Carrie seem to have this perfectly symbiotic friendship that makes them so much better together than they ever were apart.
Best Reality Host
Julie Chen (Big Brother)
Another reality choice that you might wince at but the Chenbot was not the Chenbot for season 15. The usually bland host woke up last summer when the controversial comments coming from inside the house reached past her perfectly coiffed locks to the ears and then the brain that apparently lie within. When the racist comments made by contestant Aaryn Gries- especially those about Asian Americans- hit Julie, she came out swinging. All of a sudden the Chenbot turned into an eloquent, outspoken, strong-spined host more on par with the Probsts of the world than the, well, the Chenbots. She even threw some clever snark Aaryn’s way in the days before she was evicted and could really feel the wrath of Julie in person. Julie navigated one of the most controversial seasons of any reality TV series brilliantly and came out of it looking like an entirely different host than she was for the 14 seasons previous. Here’s hoping it’s Julie we see in season 16, not the Chenbot.
Best Reality Judge/Mentor
Adam Levine (The Voice)
The Voice has never produced a really viable music star. There are always some great contestants (see next category) but they never really amount to much after the show, so the drama is generally pretty low. So why tune in at all? There are four reasons, and they sit in four giant red chairs and drink copious amounts of coffee (or booze, if it’s Blake) while snarking back and forth and occasionally pressing a button. The coaches are everything on The Voice, especially permanent (meaning, non-rotating) pair Blake Shelton and Adam Levine. The best buddies/great rivals have personality coming out the wazoo and their chemistry is perfection but, even without Blake (who won this category last year), Adam Levine is damn awesome (even if we’re not all that into his weird falsetto singing voice). It’s almost a little annoying that he has the looks and sex appeal to win People’s Sexiest Man Alive because we would love him if he looked like Igor. We love his wit and warmth and bizarre ability to play like 10 different instruments. We love his loyalty to Team Adam and his followthrough with contestants he likes after the show. We like that he makes his artists into better artists, and has a seemingly endless well of musical knowledge. We don’t care about his face (which is a good face) or his abs (which are good abs) or his rock star status (which is impressive) we just like Adam.
Best Female Reality Star
Michelle Chamuel (The Voice)
Conversely, we weren’t all that into Usher. He was pretty good in the blinds but did a lot of weird, unhelpful stuff in the battle rounds that made us feel like he was more into showing off Usher than ushering his artists. Except for Michelle. There was something about the off-kilter wall flower with the powerful wail and the mountainous stage presence that captured Usher’s heart. And ours. By the time she was his last competitor standing, the Michelle-Usher dynamic was adorable to watch and brought out the best in the coach. She was our pick to win by far but sadly the Blake train could not be stopped.
Best Male Reality Star
John Cochran (Survivor)
We saw this coming. Watching Cochran play Survivor the first time, he was both hilarious TV (we nominated him in this category!) and a player who was approaching the game correctly, just a little too cautiously. He was too much of a fan, to desperate for every minute he could get on the island. And we said, next time he came out (because he was the most obvious returnee ever), he’d do really well. Sure enough, Cochran’s second turn on the island scored him the coveted win. He played a near-perfect game based on careful timing and excellent alliance management. It wasn’t the flashiest of games (there was sadly no throwing of idol clues into volcanoes and Malcolm made all the thrilling huge moves of the season) but Cochran played a carefully constructed strategic game while still being Cochran (aka, no matter what, good TV).
Best Reality Team
Aras & Vytas Baskauskas (Survivor)
The Blood vs. Water season of Survivor was one of the best ever. Usually it’s clever post-merge strategy that makes a season great (and Tyson certainly delivered on that front) but it was the pre-merge drama that made this season stand out from all the other great ones. Not only were the Baskauskas brothers each playing a decent strategic game pre-merge (all they did wrong was trust Tyson) but they were two of the most likeable and intriguing characters on the island PLUS the added bonus of their fascinating personal dynamic. The moment when they squared off in the gladiator challenge and Light Brother Aras allowed Dark Brother Vytas a chance to reset and start again only to get sideswiped was one of the most amazing moments of non-tribal council Survivor ever. When do we get to see them play again? More Vytas Please! (If Aras is there too, even better).
Best TV Couple
Amber & Reggie (The Neighbors)
The Neighbors is so much smarter and sweeter than anyone knows, mostly because no one watches it except for us. We love pretty much everything about this strange, self-aware family sitcom but our favourite thing is definitely the adorable pairing of alien Reggie Jackson and human Amber Weaver (played to perfection by the wry Clara Mamet). Yes, it’s an inter-species thing, but Amber and Reggie’s delicate teenage romance has hit on more human truths than most TV teenage romances combined.
The Be-My-Best-Friend Award
BJ Novak (The Mindy Project)
Normally this category is reserved for women and gay men because these awards are mostly chosen by our female staffers and the next category is where we talk about the straight men that we want to actually spend time with (as opposed to the Ridiculously-Good-Looking category, which is entirely vapid). But the first of many many reasons why we love this year’s winner in the Be-My-Best-Friend category is his Straight Male Best Friend to a Female pedigree. Here is the human hand-picked by our Hollywood spirit animal Mindy Kaling as her very best friend in the whole world. Yes, he’s adorable and hilarious and super smart (his Harvard thesis was on the film adaptations of Hamlet– what what!) but mostly we just want to be his best friend (can it be a triumvirate? We want last year’s winner Mindy in there too). We want to get in long twitter arguments with him and drag him to events when we don’t have dates and veg out watching overly long movies and eating leftovers with him without worrying whether our long-stay lipstick is staying long enough. Here’s to great Straight Male Best Friends, the king of whom is BJ Novak.
The Marry-Me Award
Aaron Tveit (Graceland)
In contrast, we would gladly put some effort into making sure our long-stay lipstick is perfect if we could listen to Aaron Tveit serenade us ’til death do us part. Everyone on the staff had a different first-choice for this category but we can all agree on the issue of Graceland‘s well-groomed wunderkind who moonlights as a Broadway rockstar and occasional French Revolutionary.
Ridiculously Good-Looking Male
James Wolk (The Crazy Ones)
In the Jesse Williams tradition, James Wolk could easily have made the cut for both Ridiculously Good-Looking AND Marry-Me. Don’t you love when that happens? When the guy with the sparkly eyes and the great smile and the perfect hair is also sweet, charming, a great dramatic actor, and enough of a comedic goofball to go toe to toe with Robin Williams improv-ing on a sitcom set without missing a beat. James sometimes gets pigeonholed by his looks and charm but he’s seriously awesome and we hope that everyone can see past just those things. That hypocritically said, we couldn’t put two Crazy Ones actors in the Marry-Me category so we had to stick James here to make room for Hamish. Sorry Jimmy; we love you! (and not just for that smile of yours, though it doesn’t hurt).
Ridiculously Good-Looking Female
Hannah Simone (New Girl)
Here’s another person whose sitcom character is often just defined by her looks but who is actually really funny when given a chance to show that off. We love CeeCee so much… but we’re Team Elizabeth so the only award she gets is Ridiculously Good-Looking. Sorry Hannah; we love you! (in spite of your cheekbones, which sort of make us want to hate you).
Moment of the Year
The Introduction of The Mother (How I Met Your Mother)
The actual ending of How I Met Your Mother was… troubled… but the end of the penultimate season was kind of brilliant. The introduction of the mother was incredibly sneaky and extremely exciting- setting the tone for the final season perfectly (especially in retrospect, considering that the mother was the saving grace of that strange season). It’s rare that a finale twist be so unexpected and so delightful, let alone so bold (I honestly thought we wouldn’t meet her until the final episode- I’m glad I was wrong). And Cristin Milioti was perfect.
Emerging Artist Award
We tried for years to get you guys to watch The Big C. It is therefore your fault, not ours, if you still don’t know who Gabriel Basso is. By god, you should really know who Gabriel Basso is. In The Big C‘s 4-episode coda in 2013, Adam took centre stage a lot more than he had in most of the preceding series. Basso was magnificent, coming to terms with losing his mother and making one last grand gesture in the series’ patented tone of bittersweetness. He also delivered a standout turn in one of the best independent films of the year- The Kings of Summer. Mark our words- Gabriel Basso, Emerging Artist.
Performer of the Year
Our one big Breaking Bad award of the year goes to… Hank? Yeah, that’s right, Hank. Why? Because we’ve never really been all that into Walt and season 5 part 2 seemingly wanted nothing to do with our beloved Jesse. But Hank, Hank was incredible. A character who- let’s face it- probably should have died in season one, Hank was perpetually ten steps behind Walt… until he wasn’t anymore. In our opinion, the single coolest thing the Breaking Bad writers did in 2013 was have Hank confront Walt in episode 1. We didn’t see that coming and man did it make an impact. From the moment he clued in until the moment of his inevitable demise, Dean Norris absolutely Killed It as Hank this year. He also added some much-needed gravitas to the misguided CBS summer serial Under the Dome (so much potential, so much silliness). One of the year’s biggest MVPs for sure.
What Not to Wear
Stacy and Clinton left the airwaves in 2013 after 10 years on the air. We miss them already. Their snippy comments, their sensible rules about mixing patterns, their dedication to jackets and A-line skirts, Stacy’s cool head, Clinton’s inability to suffer fools, their adorable, bantery dynamic – they were like the fashionable friends you wish you had. Here’s hoping they’re together on a patio somewhere, sipping cocktails and judging some poor passerby’s shoes. At least, that’s where we imagine them always to be from now on.
Best Ensemble in a Regional Production
Hair (First Act Productions)
One of the biggest vote-getters of the year, this was an incredibly close category that really came down to reader votes to tip the scales. While there was a LOT of love for Ui and Parade, it was the vibrant crowd of hippies that made up First Act’s Hair who proved the most popular. Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Nicole Strawbridge was on hand to accept the award.
Best Supporting Actor in a Regional Production
Scott Farley in Twelfth Night (Hart House Theatre)
This was an incredibly diverse category, featuring performers in everything from musical theatre to classic drama to new works to Shakespeare. There were funny performances, dynamic ones, heartbreaking ones- we gave the award to Scott because his Malvolio was all of those things at once.
Best Supporting Actress in a Regional Production
Sheri Godda in the RESISTIBLE rise of arturo UI (The Red Light District)
Some of our favourite performers were nominated in this category but ultimately we just couldn’t get over Sheri’s chameleonic tour de force in SEVEN different roles in this Brechtian allegory. Men, women, old, young, accents of all kinds- the least we could do was give her a trophy.
Best Actor in a Regional Production
Alex McCooeye in Richard III (Shakespeare in the Ruff)
This was probably the toughest decision of the year. Every single one of these nominees could have taken home Best Actor for 2013 and we would have felt okay about it. In the end, we went with the actor who most commanded his particular production- Alex McCooeye for his unique and enthralling turn as Richard III.
Best Actress in a Regional Production
Amelia Sargisson in Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Bash’d)
If you counted up the Shakespeare experience on our staff, we’ve probably seen about 50 productions of Much Ado About Nothing over the years. A pretty good Beatrice is pretty commonplace at this point. Amelia Sargisson was not a pretty good Beatrice. Amelia Sargisson was a Fantastic Beatrice, crafting a perfectly unique creature from a text studied and played many times over. This category belonged to her from the moment she inquired whether Signor Montanto had returned from the wars.
Best Director of a Regional Production
Anita La Selva for Look Back in Anger (FeverGraph)
The brain power in this category is pretty astonishing; it’s a list of some of the smartest folks we’ve ever encountered. Deciding between these nominees was a task that we had to lower down to one criterion: how much did their vision impact their chosen text? A lot of times a really great text can meet a really great cast and make a really great production. We like directors whose influence is the key to the production, beyond a great text and a great cast. Anita La Selva’s bold, contemporary re-imagining of John Osborne’s domestic drama most embodied that principle.
Best Regional Production
Look Back in Anger (FeverGraph)
Both intellectually and emotionally, Look Back in Anger was the production that got to us the most this year. Looked at more objectively, it also scored remarkably high in every single relevant category- a strong text, a brilliant design, top-tier actors and the Best Director winner. Of all the incredible nominated pieces, Look Back in Anger was our most consistently celebrated.
Best New Work
Donors by Brandon Crone (Safeword)
The emotion and wit of all these nominated plays was incredible. They were all entertaining, affecting and memorable. But only one felt truly groundbreaking. We’re pretty sure Brandon Crone’s going to be a pretty big deal- keep your eye on him.
Best Ballet Performance
Skylar Campbell in Unearth (National Ballet of Canada)
Speaking of tomorrow’s big deals, Skylar Campbell is where the National Ballet of Canada is headed. The ballet categories this year were all about emerging talent and new works- nothing embodied those qualities quite as beautifully as Skylar’s breathtaking performance in Robert Binet’s Unearth.
Best Opera Performance
Anna Christy in Lucia di Lammermoor (Canadian Opera Company)
We like to take for granted that professional opera singers can sing brilliantly so what we look for is overall performance quality- stage presence, dramatic ability, commitment, dynamics, that extra little bit of virtuosity that turns technical proficiency to magnificence. All of the nominated singers stood out for all these reasons, but Anna Christy flew past all our expectations with her descent to madness as Lucia.
Best Ballet or Opera
Emergence (National Ballet of Canada)
Both the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada operate at a level of super-heroics that can be pretty baffling, but we’re used to that sort of thing by now. We’re used to rafters-shaking high notes and gravity-defying leaps, but we weren’t prepared for Emergence, the first and only ballet that’s left us mouth agape for hours afterwards. We still can’t believe that- on both a creative and physical level- it was the work of mere mortals. One of the most stunning artistic achievements we’ve ever seen, we wish it could win Best Ballet every year forever (Note: it can’t).
Best Cabaret Performance
Mike Ross in Bob Dylan Songbook/Spoon River Cabaret
At the first performance of the Bob Dylan Songbook at The 2013 Global Cabaret Festival, musical director Mike Ross- stationed dutifully at his piano- followed up an extraordinary performance by guest artist Justin Rutledge with the comment “I told you he was special”. Justin is indeed special, and Mike had indeed told us so. But he’d also had the foresight to recruit him. His knack for assembling remarkable (and often unexpectedly matched) artists is only topped by his own musical performance and compositional talent and astounding interpretive creativity. Every single year, without competition, the things involving Mike Ross are the best things at The Global Cabaret Festival. There’s a reason why his comment about Justin was immediately followed by a response from the audience- “You’re Special”. Yes, lady who yelled, yes he is.
La Ronde (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
Most of the nominated productions in this category featured incredible ensembles backing up leading performances. Conversely, the winning production was entirely an ensemble piece. By design, there is no single performer in La Ronde who is any more important or central than the others. The success of the production, then, was the success of the ensemble- an assemblage of some of the most interesting and bold performers on the Toronto scene.
Best Supporting Actor
Randy Hughson in Waiting for Godot (The Stratford Festival)
When we interviewed Best Supporting Actor nominee Brad Hodder for the Nominee Interview Series, he spoke for two very long paragraphs about why he felt that he should lose to Randy Hughson for his transcendent and largely wordless performance as Lucky. We almost gave it to Brad just for that admirable show of humility but then we realized that he was right, any winner other than Randy Hughson and the world would cease to make sense.
Best Supporting Actress
Elisa Moolecherry in Other People’s Children (Tarragon Theatre)
We’re wordy folk; we thus often gravitate towards high octane, big presence performances with a lot of tricky lines to deliver. For Best Supporting Actress, we wanted to honour someone who triumphed in the opposite kind of role. The other nominees in this category oozed charm and skill, but Elisa captivated us in her stillness. There was something unthinkably impressive about that.
Best Actor in a Musical
Dan Chameroy in The Barber of Seville (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
This category was incredibly close mostly because of how wildly different all the performances were. It was like comparing apples to oranges to cucumbers to tomatoes to potatoes to snowcones. Our tie-breaking criterion was the uniqueness of the performance and we’d never seen anything quite like Dan’s scamp of a contemporary Figaro.
Best Actress in a Musical
Kira Guloien in Tommy (The Stratford Festival)
Here we decided to reward the performer we felt had the hardest job. The vocal demands of The Who, the task of standing out amidst Des McAnuff’s wild theatrics, the intensity and drama of the character and her traumatic arc- Kira Guloien cleared so many hurtles as Mrs. Walker that we felt like she earned her way onto this winner’s list.
Best Actor in a Play
Damien Atkins in Angels in America (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
We love this category; these 6 performers are all simply mind-blowing talents. They played icons with fresh perspective and brought gravitas to new roles; they played young and old, genius and simple, dying and living, rich and poor, good and evil and everything in between. We wish we could have picked all 6 of them but we said no ties this year so we hunkered down and made a choice. That choice was to reward the bravery, vulnerability, comedy, tragedy and overall humanity of Damien Atkins’ Prior Walter; a beautiful, grounded performance in one of the highest-flying productions of the year.
Best Actress in a Play
Nicole Underhay in Major Barbara (The Shaw Festival)
What a category! Best Actress in 2013 was full of inspiring, complicated, luminescent badasses played by some of the country’s top performers. It’s heartening to know that, for what might sadly be the first time ever, the competition in the Best Actress field is easily as fierce if not more so than the Best Actors. We’re so glad to see roles like Mary Queen of Scots, May Buchanan and Tanya Young making their ways onto the resumes of our favourite actresses. Within this surge of powerful women, one awesome trend stood out to us- strength in kindness. In both Stratford’s Measure for Measure and Shaw’s Major Barbara, Canadian audiences encountered leading ladies who didn’t need to go all Lady Macbeth to exert their influence on the world- smart, savvy, kind and good were all they needed to be to own their stories. Nicole Underhay’s radiant Barbara wasn’t just good, she made us want to be better.
Albert Schultz for Angels in America (Soulpepper Theatre Company)
As much as we love bold direction, there’s a lot to be said for restraint. Especially when you’re staging a big, bold text. Albert Schultz’s work on Angels in America was far from the flashiest effort on the list of nominees, but we feel that it was the most effective. Beyond assembling and bringing out the best in his brilliant cast, Albert showed an uncanny understanding of his chosen material. He carefully chose his interpretive moments and knew where to just let Kushner speak. He honoured the text’s Brechtian roots while adding influences of his own. It was subtle work, but nothing if not thoughtful.
Arcadia (The Shaw Festival)
Again, for Best Production we tried to break it down to two simple factors: what moved us most and what impressed on the most platforms? The Shaw Festival’s best production of the year was one of our favourite theatre-going experiences in quite some time for the feeling and thought that it evoked but it also sported a smart, functional design, clever, subtle direction, and a stellar cast- all working within one of the most demanding scripts in contemporary theatre. It may be an unexpected choice, but we stand by it.
Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster
The beautiful and talented Soulpepper Academy alum we knew was about to win this un-nominated award was live-tweeting the ceremony on Monday. Just before we announced Emerging Artist, she came out with this soon-to-be-ironic gem: “Five!! I lost FIVE awards tonight!!! #lickingmywounds #morebeer”. Yes, she’s clearly funny and down to earth and all that great stuff, but mostly we would like to point out that she was nominated for FIVE awards in the first place. She’s counting The Tin Drum‘s Best Production nomination and two Ensemble nods, but even with just her solo nominations (Best Supporting Actress for The Ballad of Weedy Peetstraw and Best Actress in a Musical for The Barber of Seville) she was the most nominated artist in Toronto’s My Theatre Awards this year. After catching our attention in Soulpepper’s Crucible with her Academy brethren in 2012, Courtney has delivered solid performance after solid performance in wildly differing roles. Laugh-out-loud funny as the outrageous ingenue in The Barber of Seville, angry and broken as contemporary siren June in The Flood Thereafter at CanStage, charming and feisty as the titular Weedy’s pattering love interest in John Millard’s SummerWorks bluegrass opera, she even managed to be somewhat interesting as a manipulative showgirl in Soulpepper’s bizarrely cast winter offering Idiot’s Delight. Already high on Soulpepper’s list of dependable talents, our only hesitation in giving the Emerging Artist Award to the wonderful Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster is that, in a lot of ways, she’s already emerged and well on her way to bigdeal-dom.
Performer of the Year
It’s rare for any multi-month festival to be as fully defined by a single performer as Stratford’s 2013 was by Scott Wentworth. He started out in a pair of roles that would make him one of the year’s big stars- a thoughtful, intense turn as Lord Capulet and a wonderfully funny and complicated performance in the lead role of Tevye in the season’s best production, Fiddler on the Roof– but when he took over the iconic character of Shylock in the season’s best Shakespeare production as well, Scott Wentworth became a season-shaping MVP. All three performances were independently fantastic but, put together, they form a picture of a diverse and powerful performer with more stamina and emotional capacity than many other actors put together. No one artist delivered that kind of consistency all year making this the single easiest award to give out all season.
The 2013 My Theatre Honorary Award
Bad Dog Theatre Company
We like to use the Honorary Award as a way of giving kudos to theatre artists who don’t qualify for our other awards. Sometimes that means a really kick-ass artistic director or producer; it could mean the best publicist in town, or a performer we saw in a broadcast theatre performance rather than live. This year we’re honouring a top-notch theatre group in Toronto who, over the course of several standout performance series, introduced us to one of the great, under-appreciated theatre arts- improv. Toronto’s Bad Dog Theatre Company is full of outstanding, inventive and bold performers who we got to see survive the zombie apocalypse, explore intergalactic frontiers and go back in time to old-town TO. Next year we’re determined to see them do a whole lot more.
The 2013 My Theatre Award Winners (Boston) Are:
Best Ensemble in a Play
Hairy Tales (imaginary beasts)
Best Set Design
Megan Kinneen for A Streetcar Named Desire (Wax Wings Productions)
Emerging Artist of the Year
The 2013 My Theatre Award Winners (New York) Are:
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Bertie Carvel (Matilda the Musical)
Mr. Carvel’s brilliant performance as the terrible Miss Trunchbull is one not soon forgotten.
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Rachel Bay Jones (Pippin)
Jones has audiences in stitches night after night as the incredibly funny, “ordinary woman” Catherine. She also has a stellar voice to match her acting skill.
Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Alessandro Nivola (The Winslow Boy)
No theatrical moment for a supporting actor in a play last year was more memorable or better executed than Nivola’s cross-examination of Ronnie Winslow as Sir Robert Morton.
Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Deborah Rush (Women or Nothing)
Deborah Rush brought some much-needed levity to Women or Nothing, and she excelled on stage as the haughty, free-spirited mother Dorene.
Best Actor in a Musical
Jefferson Mays (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder)
In a category filled with five iconic performances, Jefferson Mays’ portrayal of no fewer than 8 potential murder victims in the darkly comedic Gentleman’s Guide has had critics buzzing since the show opened (myself included).
Best Actress in a Musical
Patina Miller (Pippin)
Ms. Miller proved once and for all that she is a Broadway superstar as the Leading Player in Pippin.
Best Actor in a Play (Off-Broadway)
Jeff Blumenkrantz (Murder for Two):
This could very well be a tie between the energetic Brett Ryback and Blumenkrantz because it is hard to imagine one on stage without the other, but (protocol says) Blumenkrantz gets the edge here for his portrayal of multiple murder suspects.
Best Actress in a Play
Cherry Jones (The Glass Menagerie)
Jones’s portrayal of Amanda in this classic play is anything but ordinary, and she brought a level of complexity to the role that wowed audiences and critics alike.
Best Actor in a Play (Broadway)
Mark Rylance (Richard III/Twelfth Night)
This was by far the closest category, and with good reason. All five of these gentlemen are unquestionably talented, and I hope that each will return to an NYC stage soon (although I would happily visit London as well). Rylance + Shakespeare = perfection.
This spectacle of theatrical and circus feats has been entertaining audiences for a year and is showing no signs of slowing down, even with the departure of its two leads. This is a show that is not to be missed in NYC.
The Glass Menagerie
Despite my well-documented dislike for Tennessee Williams, this revival was beautiful and a critical darling in a strong play season.
Ian McKellan (Waiting for Godot)
Special honorable mention goes to Patrick Stewart for fan favorite because even those fans who could not make it to New York to see No Man’s Land or Waiting for Godot enjoyed this dynamic duo’s viral marketing campaign for the shows.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!