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2nd annual Toronto film critics poll.

Mort Ransen's Margaret's Museum proved to be the audience favourite in 1996, playing 16 weeks on 30 screens, and demonstrating the viability of regional cinema if produced at this level of excellence. Both female leads, Helena Bonham Carter and Kate Nelligan, turn in strong performances, and the film has resurrected the career of a talented director who has been toiling in the trenches of Canadian cinema for over 30 years.

The Toronto critics, however, chose Bruce McDonald's Hard Core Logo and Robert Lepage's Le confessional as the year's best. Hard Core Logo, which received the greatest number of votes for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director (shared with Robert Lepage), is McDonald's finest film to date: an innovative mock-documentary from a director working at the top of his form, and although not as widely popular as Margaret's Museum, Hard Core Logo is a major step forward for McDonald. Robert Lepage was also named top director and his script for Le confessional was a tight second to Noel S. Baker's Hard Core Logo. Lepage has moved easily from stage to film and his reputation in Europe alone assures him of generous funding whenever he decides to venture into theatre or film. The fact that he was able to finance a second feature, Le polygraphe, in less than a year after completing his first, has made Lepage a leading figure in Quebec cinema at a critical juncture in that province's history.

Martha Henry and William Hutt, who turn in outstanding, well-rehearsed performances in David Wellington's faithful recreation of the Stratford production of Long Day's Journey Into Night, take the acting laurels. Henry's only competition coming from the two women of Margaret's Museum; Hutt's from Hugh Dillon and Callum Keith Rennie, the trash-talking punk rockers from Hard Core Logo. Peter Mettler's wonderfully evocative film about the Northern Lights, Picture of Light, topped out in the documentary category.

1996 saw very strong regional representation with two of the best films emanating from opposite Coasts, Hard Core Logo and Margaret's Museum; one very promising debut from the Prairies, The Suburbanators; Quebec's Le confessionnal; and Cronenberg's brilliant and intensely controversial film, Crash, from Ontario. Despite this wealth of new and old talent, however, Canadian films still remain marginal in their own market. Greater Toronto, which is the largest market for English-Canadian films in Canada, has 284 screens owned by either Famous Players or Cineplex; over 52 weeks that amounts to 14,768 screens. The 30 Canadian feature films and documentaries tracked by Take One in 1996 showed on a total of 260 of them. This amounts to 1.75 per cent. In 1995, the total was 2.8 per cent. This is clearly intolerable. Will something be done about this imbalance before Canadian films sink to less than one per cent in their own market?

Best Directors

1. Bruce McDonald

(Hard Core Logo)

Robert Lepage

(Le confessionnal)

3. David Cronenberg

(Crash)

4. David Wellington

(Long Day's Journey Into Night)

5. Mort Ransen

(Margaret's Museum)

John L'Ecuyer

(Curtis's Charm)

7. John Greyson

(Lilies)

8. Gary Burns

(The Suburbanators)

9. Christian Duguay

(Screamers)

Peter Mettler

(Picture of Light)

Best Screenplays

1. Hard Core Logo

(Noel S. Baker, based on a book of poems by Michael Turner)

2. Le confessionnal

(Robert Lepage)

3. Margaret's Museum

(Gerald Wexler and Mort Ransen, based on a short story by Gerald Wexler)

Long Day's Journey Into Night

(based on the play by Eugene O'Neil)

5. Crash

(David Cronenberg, based on the book by J.G. Ballard)

Curtis's Charm

(John L'Ecuyer, based on the short story by Jim Carroll)

7. Lilies

(Michel Marc Bouchard, based on his own play)

8. The Suburbanators

(Gary Burns)

9. House

(Laurie Lynd and Daniel MacIvor, based on his play)

Screamers

(Dan O'Bannon and Miguel Tejada-Flores)

Best Actors

(Male)

1. William Hutt

(Long Day's Journey Into Night)

2. Callum Keith Rennie

(Hard Core Logo)

3. Hugh Dillon

(Hard Core Logo)

4. Lothaire Bluteau

(Le confessional)

5. Maurice Dean Wint

(Curtis's Charm)

Tom McCamus

(Long Day's Journey Into Night)

7. Brent Carver

(Lilies)

Elias Koteas

(Crash)

9. James Spader

(Crash)

10. Clive Russell

(Margaret's Museum)

Best Actors

(Female)

1. Martha Henry

(Long Day's Journey Into Night)

2. Helena Bonham Carter

(Margaret's Museum)

3. Kate Nelligan

(Margaret's Museum)

4. Martha Burns

(Long Day's Journey Into Night)

5. Deborah Kara Ungar

(Crash)

Mary Elizabeth Rubens

(Michelle Apartments)

Deanna Milligan

(Once in a Blue Moon)

Tushka Bergen

(Turning April)

Kristin Scott Thomas

(Le confessionnal)

10. Holly Hunter

(Crash)

Best Documentaries

1. Picture of Light

2. Project Grizzly

3. Baseball Girls Power
COPYRIGHT 1996 Canadian Independent Film & Television Publishing Association
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Wyndham Wise
Publication:Take One
Date:Dec 1, 1996
Words:759
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