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he Genie Awards, honouring the best in Canadian movies, will be handed out Thursday in Ottawa.

The ceremony -which will feature appearances by such high-profile stars as best supporting actress nominee Minnie Driver, host William Shatner, and singer Melissa Etheridge -is the culmination of a good year for the industry.

Paul Giamatti, star of the comic drama Barney's Version, has already won a Golden Globe Award, and Denis Villeneuve's Incendies headlined a list of Canadians who got Oscar nominations.

But how will they do at the Genies? Here's how the main awards are shaping up:


The nominees: 10 1/2, Heartbeats, Barney's Version, Incendies, Splice Should win: This is a twopicture race between Barney's Version, with 11 nominations, and Incendies, with 10.

Both are set in Montreal and overseas, and both are based on well-received works: Mordecai Richler's well-loved novel and Wajdi Mouawad's prize-winning play.

But Barney feels closer to the Canadian experience, and while it's a less intense movie, it comes with the offhand humour and winning dyspepsia of Richler's world view. In 10 years, this is the film we'll probably still be watching. Will win: Either would be a worthy winner, but Incendies probably has the edge. Despite the fact that it's mostly set in the Middle East, it's the more emotionally stirring of the films, and its message -of passion and forgiveness -comes with a more shattering climax.

In addition to that, it's more the kind of movie Genie seems to favour: It has a more international feel than the more mainstream Barney.


The nominees: Robert Naylor (10 1/2), Paul Giamatti (Barney's Version), Timothy Olyphant (High Life), François Papineau (Route 132), Jay Baruchel (The Trotsky).

Should win: Giamatti gave a tour-de-force performance as Barney Panofsky -a turn that won him a Golden Globe Award -and it would be a worthy winner of the top award here, as well. It's a great comic role, and Giamatti found the ideal balance between crankiness and romance that makes an often disagreeable character into a winning hero. His smile of triumph when he discovers his unloved second wife in bed with his best friend is an indelible moment. Will win: Giamatti.


The nominees: Rosamund Pike (Barney's Version), Tatiana Maslany (Grown Up Movie Star), Lubna Azabal (Incendies), Molly Parker (Trigger), Tracy Wright (Trigger).

Should win: There will be a sizable vote for the wellloved Wright, who died shortly before Trigger was released, but this is also a Barney-Incendies faceoff, this time between Pike and Azabal. Pike was irresistible in a calm performance as the film's most adult presence -it's not often that a woman is allowed to be beautiful, sexy, mature and smart in the same role -but Azabal, a Belgian actress, conquered a more challenging role that called for her to be angry, tender, strong, fearful and forgiving, and she was always convincing. Will win: Azabal.


The nominees: Martin Dubreuil (10 1/2), Dustin Hoffman (Barney's Version), Callum Keith Rennie (Gunless), Rossif Sutherland (High Life), Alexis Martin (Route 132). Should win: This category comes down to the highprofile power of Hoffman against the lesser-known -but no less accomplished -abilities of Martin, who also co-wrote Route 132. Hoffman slyly steals every scene he's in as Barney's reprobate father, while Martin provides energetic support for best-actor nominee François Papineau in a road-trip film: It's the very definition of a supporting performance, and the movie wouldn't work without him. It's the kind of quiet work that could be overlooked. Will win: Hoffman.


The nominees: Anne-Elisabeth Bosse (Heartbeats), Minnie Driver (Barney's Version), Sonja Bennett (Cole), Mary Walsh (Crackie), Terra Hazelton (Fubar II).

Should win: Driver's name stands out as the big-name star, and her performance as Barney's terrible second wife -who doesn't even get a name in the screenplay -has both humour and pathos. But Walsh is a revelation as Bride, the fierce grandmother left to care for her teenage granddaughter when her high-living mother abandons her. Her no-nonsense performance perfectly captures the spirit of a tough woman trying to salvage a young life. Will win: Walsh.


The nominees: Podz (10 1/2), Xavier Dolan (Heartbeats), Richard J. Lewis (Barney's Version), Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), Vincenzo Natali (Splice).

Should win: Villeneuve reconfigured a play into a brilliant cinematic work that is beautifully staged: The blend of evocative cinematography, forbidding landscapes and naturalistic acting makes this the best work yet from one of Canada's best directors. The main competition comes from Natali, whose underappreciated Splice was an ingeniously mounted sci-fi horror movie with convincing special effects. Will win: Villeneuve.
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