The 2023 Oscars: 10 Canadian nominees to look out for at this year’s ceremony

The Oscars are less than two weeks away, and it’s been an awards season of tight races and controversial nominations.

If you’re rooting for anyone and everyone Canadian, there are plenty of directors, actors, makeup artists, writers, animators and producers to look out for at the 95th Academy Awards on March 12.

Here are 10 Canadians competing for Hollywood’s top prizes at this year’s Oscars ceremony.

Domee Shi

A woman wearing a fuschia jacket poses during an event.
Shi arrives at the 80th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 10 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Her film Turning Red is nominated for best animated feature at this year’s Oscars. (The Canadian Press)

Director, Turning Red

A previous Oscar winner for her 2018 short animated film Bao, Shi wanted her debut feature to show the world what being Canadian means to her — “diversity, good food, colourful and fun people.” The result is Turning Red, a Pixar joint about a spunky 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl who unwillingly transforms into a giant red panda whenever the blunders of adolescence become too much to bear. The Toronto director’s film will compete for best animated feature at this year’s ceremony. If only there was also an Oscar for bringing the vibrance of Toronto’s East Chinatown neighbourhood to life.

WATCH | The trailer for Turning Red:

Chris Williams

A man makes peace signs with his fingers.
Chris Williams arrives for the premiere of The Sea Beast at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles on July 9, 2022. The film is also nominated for best animated feature at this year’s Oscars. (Michael Tran/AFP via Getty Images)

Writer-director, The Sea Beast

The writer-director of The Sea Beast caught the filmmaking bug as a kid in Kitchener, Ont., where he made stop-motion films with his father from his childhood bedroom. After studying animation at Sheridan College, Williams went on to direct 2008’s Oscar-nominated Bolt, won an Academy Award for 2015’s Big Hero 6 and co-directed 2016’s Moana, which was also nominated. His most recent release, about an orphaned girl who pairs up with a legendary sea monster hunter, will compete for best animated feature — the same category that he won eight years ago.

WATCH | The trailer for The Sea Beast:

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis

Filmmakers Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby.
Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby have received two previous Oscar nominations for their NFB-produced films. Their short film The Flying Sailor is nominated for best animated short film at this year’s Oscars. (NFB)

Animators, The Flying Sailor

The Calgary animator duo have been working together for almost 28 years, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. After meeting at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, Tilby and Forbis collaborated on the Oscar-nominated shorts When The Day Breaks (2000) and Wild Life (2012). Their eight-minute film The Flying Sailor, about a seaman profoundly changed by the real-life 1917 Halifax ship explosion, marks their third nomination together in the best animated short film category.

WATCH | The trailer for The Flying Sailor:

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser walks the red carpet before the TIFF premier of The Whale on Sept. 11, 2022. The Canadian-American actor will compete for the best actor award at this year’s Oscars. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Actor, The Whale

Just a few years ago, Fraser was dealing with a raft of health issues and opening up for the first time about the sexual assault he says he experienced at the peak of his 2000s Hollywood fame. Director Darren Aronofsky saw Fraser in a low-budget Brazilian film, and called on the George of the Jungle and The Mummy star to play what would become the most important role of his career in 2022’s The Whale. The actor — who grew up in Ottawa and Toronto during a nomadic childhood — is nominated in the best actor category for his performance as an obese English professor trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

WATCH | The trailer for The Whale:

Adrien Morot

A man smiles in front of a wall of prosthetics.
Makeup artist Adrien Morot poses for a photograph is his Montreal studio on Feb. 21. He is nominated for best makeup and hairstyling at this year’s Oscars. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Makeup artist, The Whale

A previous nominee for the 2010 film adaptation of Mordechai Richler’s Barney’s Version, Morot is the Montreal-based prosthetics whiz behind Fraser’s extraordinary physical transformation in The Whale. The makeup artist accepted the gig believing that its challenging nature might have led to the end of his career. By the end of production, his team managed to get a seven-hour costuming process down to three. He shares a nomination for best makeup and hair styling with makeup artist Judy Chin and hairstylist Anne Marie Bradley.

LISTEN | How Morot designed The Whale‘s prosthetics:

Q22:43Montreal prosthetic designer describes the painstaking process of transforming Brendan Fraser for The Whale

The critically acclaimed film The Whale stars Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound man. Canadian makeup artist and prosthetic designer Adrien Morot created the prosthetics that transformed the actor and made his performance so believable. He tells Tom about the challenge and how it feels to receive an Oscar-nomination for his work.

Sarah Polley

A woman, wearing round black eye glasses and a royal blue suit, sits in a leather chair behind a microphone.
Polley speaks with Q host Tom Power. She is nominated for best adapted screenplay and her film Women Talking is nominated for best picture at this year’s Oscars. (Vivian Rashotte/CBC)

Writer-director, Women Talking

Polley’s nearly 40-year career began when she was a child actor. She cemented her status as one of Canada’s premier filmmaking talents after directing 2006’s Away From Her and 2011’s Take This Waltz. When she took up the task of adapting Canadian author Miriam Toews’s novel Women Talking, the Toronto-born director hadn’t made a film since 2012’s ultra-personal, Oscar-nominated documentary Stories We Tell. Her latest — which is nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay — follows a group of women in a Mennonite community set on taking control of their destiny after years of sexual abuse comes to a head.

WATCH | The trailer for Women Talking:

James Cameron

James Cameron at the world premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water.
Cameron attends the world premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on Dec. 6, 2022, in London, England. His film will compete in the best picture category at this year’s Oscars, in addition to three technical categories. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

Writer-director, Avatar: The Way of Water

The 68-year-old director is one of Hollywood’s last true visionaries and a master of the populist blockbuster. Long before Cameron made some of the highest-grossing movies of all time — Avatar, The Titanic and 2023 best picture nominee Avatar: The Way of Water — he was honing a love of storytelling in small-town Ontario. His latest is the second instalment in the multi-film, multi-decade Avatar saga, about a humanoid species who fight to protect their native territory from a military-led human colony. Beyond the top prize, The Way of Water will compete for best visual effects, best production design and best sound.

WATCH | The trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water:

Ina Fichman

A woman poses for a photographer.
Fichman poses for a portrait at the 95th Academy Awards nominees luncheon on Feb. 13 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. She is nominated for best documentary feature for her film, Fire of Love, at this year’s Oscars. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/The Associated Press)

Producer, Fire of Love

The Montreal documentary, narrative film and television producer has worked in the industry for more than 25 years, including on award-winning projects The Gig is Up (2021), The Oslo Diaries (2018),  Mabul (2011) and Undying Love (2002). A BAFTA and Emmy nominee, Fichman will compete at the Academy Awards for the first time this year, where her latest project Fire of Love — up for best documentary feature — chronicles the careers of Katia and Maurice Krafft, the French volcano scientists and life partners who died during a 1991 volcanic eruption on Japan’s Mount Unzen. 

WATCH | The trailer for Fire of Love:

Daniel Roher

A man wearing glasses speaks to a reporter at an event.
Roher on the red carpet for the film Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band, which opened the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 5, 2019. The Toronto documentarian’s film Navalny is also nominated for best documentary feature at this year’s Oscars. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Director, Navalny

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic — and a year after his doc Once Were Brothers became the first Canadian documentary to open the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019 —  Roher found himself driving through Germany’s Black Forest to meet with Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition figure who’d fallen into a coma after being mysteriously poisoned. The resulting best documentary contender, Navalny, demonstrates the extraordinary audience that Roher, who’s from Toronto, secured with Navalny while he recovered from the assassination attempt.

WATCH | The trailer for Navalny: