Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The 17th TFCA Awards are too cool for stars

Trust me, that's Don McKellar and Kim Catrall
Did you know there was a Toronto Film Critics Association? Yes and they hand out awards. Wednesday night in Toronto was their 17th annual awards gala, at the trendy art deco treasure The Carlu seven floors up at Eaton's College St. in Toronto. I can thank David Kines and the folks at Hollywood Suite for allowing a TV critic to spy at this film bash.
A look at the back page of their program shows there are 42 members of the TFCA. Really? Holy cow, that's a lot of film critics. Brian Johnson, who just retired from Maclean's, is their Prez and there were so many salutes to him Wednesday night I thought he might have died, but no, he was there, white hair and all.
The Scotiabank Jay Scott Prize for emerging talent went to Matt Johnson, a York U grad who killed with his wicked funny acceptance speech/roast audition. He goofed on Johnson, pointing out he could double for John Slattery from Mad Men, and also tried to tell folks he was Johnson's son, which is how he won. Johnson and pals did this high school hell movie called The Dirties. If it is half as funny as Johnson I have to see it. Johnson bagged five large for his work and joked about buying a big bag of weed with the money, which tightened a few Scotiabank sphincters. ("You're higher than you think!")
Mark Harmon (right), one of many stars not at the TFCA bash
The critics picked Inside Llewyn Davis as their Best Picture for 2013 with Her as the runner-up. Which reminds me of that old joke about Ben-Hur--loved him, hated Hur.
Gravity won a Best Director award, but I dunno--I thought Gravity lacked atmosphere.
Spike Jonze won Best Screenplay for Her and sent a letter thanking critics and basically tried to pass himself off as a Mississauga resident. The Coen brothers also sent a letter saying they were from Minnesota, so, almost Canadian.
There were a lot of letters and video thank-yous. Stars don't seem to come to the TFCA Awards, but who can blame them? Toronto is like a giant ice factory this January. Norman Jewison sat in his sunny yard in Malibu and did not seem particularly sad not to be in Toronto. There were birds landing in his bird bath and lemons on his trees.
Still, the folks who braved the elements all seemed to have a good time. Rogers coughed up one hundred large to the Best Canadian Film, the documentary Watermark from Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky. Plus the food was pretty damn good, although there were an awful lot of forks at our table.
Rick Mercer was among the presenters. "I work in TV--that's why I'm able to be present," joked Mercer, who pointed out Sarah Poley had been the big winner last year but was now "looking forward to getting back to her first love--getting pepper sprayed."
Don McKellar and Kim Catrall, who have teamed up with Bob Martin on a series coming this spring to TMN/Movie Central called Sensitive Skin, made the scene and goofed on how they remembered good ol' Scotiabank Jay Scott and BMO Allan King. Paul Gross was also in the house, as were my old Toronto Sun pals Bruce Kirkland and the hilarious Liz Braun.
The Needies or the Screenies or whatever they call the new Canadian TV and Film Awards could take a lesson from these TFCAs. None of it is filmed, so it stays nice and informal. But, Geez, really, 42 film critics in Toronto? I would have bet there weren't that many left in North America. If there was a Toronto TV Critics Association you could hold the awards in my kitchen!
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