Canadians Politely Cleaned Up at the 2023 Oscars

The Brenaissance has reached full power

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Mar 13, 2023

Although Everything Everywhere All at Once — Exclaim!'s top movie of 2022 — swept the 95th Academy Awards last night (March 12), we'd be remiss not to mention the multiple Canadians who also became first-time Oscar winners.

As anyone could have guessed, zine inspiration Brendan Fraser won the Best Leading Actor award for his performance in Darren Aronofsky's The Whale — which has been shrouded in controversy and accusations of fatphobia for not casting a fat actor in the role.

Fraser wore a fatsuit and had several thick pieces of silicone glued onto his body to transform into the leading character, a 600-pound shut-in professor trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. The feat of this transformation was further recognized when The Whale also won the Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling — awarded to a team that includes Montreal-born makeup artist Adrien Morot, as well as Judy Chin and Annemarie Bradley.

"I started in this business 30 years ago and things didn't come easily for me," Fraser said during his tearful acceptance speech. "I'm grateful to Darren Aronofsky for throwing me a creative lifeline and hauling me aboard the good ship, The Whale." The Canadian-American actor beat out other top contender Austin Butler (ELVIS), as well as Bill Nighy (Living) and the pride of Ireland, Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun).

It was likewise a big night for Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley, who won Best Adapted Screenplay for Women Talking. She adapted the script from Manitoban author Miriam Toews's "essential" — as the director put it in her acceptance speech — 2018 novel of the same title.

"I just want to thank the Academy for not being mortally offended by the words 'women' and 'talking' being so close together like that," Polley said, beating out Top Gun: Maverick, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, All Quiet on the Western Front and Living with her film chronicling a group of women who congregate in a hayloft after a series of sexual assaults take place in their Mennonite community.

Fellow Toronto-based filmmaker Daniel Roher won Best Documentary Feature Film for Navalny. The doc, made in collaboration with Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Canadian Shane Boris, investigates the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is currently believed to be in solitary confinement in a gulag.

"Alexei — the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all. We cannot, we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever it rears its head," Roher said upon accepting his award.

Despite the otherwise huge Canadian Oscars sweep this year — and to the dismay of some of Twitter's most deeply online Disney adults — Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins's hyper-Toronto-themed tween favourite Turning Red lost Best Animated Feature Film to Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

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