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From best picture to best song, Canadians figure prominently in Oscar races

FILE PHOTO - Recording artist the Weeknd performs at the 2015 Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, N.Y., on Aug. 22, 2015. Toronto-native the Weeknd also had his song "Earned It,'' from the film "Fifty Shades of Grey,'' nominated for the best original song Oscar.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Scott Roth/Invision/AP
January 15, 2016 - 6:00 AM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - It'll be easy to play spot-the-Canadian at this year's Oscars bash — actress Rachel McAdams, chart-topper the Weeknd and author Emma Donoghue were among the Canucks named as Academy Award nominees on Thursday.

A uniquely Canadian faceoff is set for the best picture race, where the Canadian co-productions "Brooklyn" and "Room" are each vying for the top prize.

Plus there's "The Revenant," partly shot in Alberta and British Columbia, and "Spotlight," which was largely filmed in Toronto and Hamilton.

Toronto-bred filmmaker Michael Bederman, one of "Spotlight"'s executive producers, said all the Cancon at this year's Oscars speaks loudly to the country's deep talent pool.

"People seem very attuned to our perspective on things," Bederman said from New York, where he is now based.

"I think it's refreshing and it's exciting to know that (the United States) welcomes talent from Canada to come down, or to stay in Canada and turn out these amazing movies."

Bederman says he hopes to attend the bash, although he wouldn't be one of the core producers accepting a trophy if the film won.

He says he spent the morning texting with the London, Ont.-born McAdams, who will compete in the best supporting actress category for her role in the film, a Boston-set tale of church corruption.

The Irish-Canadian co-production "Room" nabbed four nominations overall: best picture, best director for Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, best actress for U.S. star Brie Larson, and best adapted screenplay for Donoghue, who translated her own 2010 novel of the same name.

Toronto native the Weeknd is in line for a best original song Oscar for his track "Earned It," from "Fifty Shades of Grey." He shares the honour with fellow Canadian songwriters Ahmad Balshe, Jason (Daheala) Quenneville and Stephan Moccio.

"It can't get more surreal than this," the Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, wrote on Twitter. "Thank you for the recognition @TheAcademy. Truly a proud moment."

Several Canucks were recognized for their work on front-runner "The Revenant." The gritty saga starring Leonardo DiCaprio picked up a leading 12 nominations.

British Columbia is represented by Chris Duesterdiek, up for sound mixing, Cameron Waldbauer, named in the best visual effects category, and set decorator Hamish Purdy, who got a production design nod. Edmonton-born Robert Pandini received a nomination in the makeup and hairstyling category.

And two Canadians earned nominations for their documentary short films.

Pakistani-born Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who became a Canadian citizen after moving to Toronto in 2004, is in the running for "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness." She previously won the documentary short Oscar for "Saving Face" in 2012.

Toronto-based director Adam Benzine received his first nomination for "Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah."

In the best sound mixing category, Canadian Paul Massey is nominated for his work on "The Martian," along with co-nominees Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth.

Veteran Canadian animator Richard Williams earned an Oscar nomination for best animated short film for "Prologue," an honour he shares with his wife Imogen Sutton. He won his first Oscar for the 1971 animated adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" and won another Oscar and a special achievement award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1989 for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit."

"Room" producer David Gross suspected this could be Canada's "best showing ever at the Oscars."

"It's just a tribute to all the people that work so hard here and are doing incredible world-class work. And it's great that it's being highlighted on that night and that we're becoming renowned," said the Toronto-bred filmmaker.

"I'm sure this will help us going forward, that people will see that these films were shot in Canada, made by Canadians and I'm sure it's going to have a great impact for the industry."

This year's Oscars show, to be hosted by Chris Rock, is on Feb. 28.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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