Wolf of Wall Street snubbed, everything else wins at Vancouver Film Critics Circle awards

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Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave was named best film at the 14th annual Vancouver Film Critics Circle awards on Tuesday night (January 7). But that was it; the rest of the international awards were split between a strong slate of acclaimed movies, with one big and very notable exception.

Inside Llewyn Davis was actually the biggest winner, with the best screenplay nod going to the Coen brothers and Oscar Isaac being recognized as best actor.

In a statement read by Straight critic Ken Eisner—who assured the bibulous crowd at the Railway Club that it really was from the Coens and “not one of their minions”—the filmmaking duo said, “Thank you to the Vancouver Film Critics Circle for this honour, for our screenplay and for Oscar Isaac. Giddy with our success in Vancouver, we may send you future scripts before we shoot them in hopes of being pre-honoured. And maybe ask Oscar to act them out for you in a sort of demo, which he has pre-agreed to do. Thank you so much, better late than never.”

Cate Blanchett was the VFCC’s choice for best actress, thanks to her turn in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, while Jennifer Lawrence maintained her It Girl status with a best supporting actress award for American Hustle.

Jared Leto, meanwhile, managed to break a decade long curse as every journalist’s punching bag with his well-deserved best supporting actor win, as the transgender AIDS sufferer Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club. But his band still blows.

Rounding out the international award winners were Alfonso Cuarón, who took the best director prize for Gravity; The Hunt, which was named best foreign film; and The Act of Killing, which was recognized as best documentary.

It seems that some heavy behind-the-scenes wrangling over Wolf of Wall Street cost the Martin Scorsese pic any awards at all. Sharply divided members of the VFCC were still arguing about the film’s merits, or otherwise, after the ceremony wrapped up.

In the Canadian section of the event, Matt Johnson’s provocative no-budget feature The Dirties was the champ. Johnson himself took the prize for both best actor and best first film by a Canadian director. Johnson’s father accepted the award on his behalf, and thanked his son for “letting me be an executive producer”.

In what should have been called the Quebec category, Sophie Desmarais was named best actress for Sarah Prefers to Run; Alexandre Landry’s remarkable performance as the mentally challenged love interest in Gabrielle netted him the best supporting actor award; and Lise Roy scored best supporting actress honours for Tom at the Farm.

Finally, Jeff Barnaby was named best director for Rhymes for Young Ghouls; My Prairie Home received the best Canadian documentary award (complete with a very cute thank-you video from director Chelsea McMullan, who apparently lives either in rural Ontario or the ice planet Hoth); and local hero Ben Ratner accepted the best British Columbia film award for his lovely effort as writer-director, Down River.

Ratner received a cash prize for his troubles. Presenter Patrick Maliha told him it was “nearly enough to cover your Fido roaming charges”. Tom at the Farm, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Sarah Prefers to Run, and Gabrielle are all screening at Cinemtheque later in January as part of the annual Canadian Top 10 program.

Veteran animator Al Sens was given the second annual Ian Caddell Award for Achievement (last year’s honoree was former VIFF head Alan Franey), while the Rio Theatre’s Corrine Lea was also given a special achievement award, partly for the Rio’s services to the venerable single-screen theatre experience, but also for taking on the provincial government’s insane liquor laws and dragging us all into the 21st century.

Martin Scorsese was unavailable for comment.

Comments (2) Add New Comment
Anthony Ma
good article, but two corrections: Down River is NOT Benjamin Ratner's directorial debut. He directs another movie Moving Malcolm 10 years ago. Also, the host at the awards was Terry David Mulligan. Funnyman Patrick Maliha was one of the presenters.
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Adrian Mack
Thanks Anthony, I made the corrections.
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