It is amazing to me how many people were thrilled by Sarah Polley’s win last night. And the most disparate people, who to my knowledge would have no particular connection – I mean, not that they need one, any more than I do to, like, Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe, but I still wish it well.

The roar that went up when she made her quip about the Academy not being ‘afraid of the words ‘women’ and ‘talking’ so close together seemed like she was close to them all in that room, right? Familiar.


However, certain people on this site were making fun of me for the ‘Canadianness’ of this post. I got defensive, which is the number one way to make people tease you more, but after I calmed down a bit, I realized why, more.

Sarah Polley has been working since she was a very young child. Her experiences in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen are detailed in her book, Run Towards the Danger – but of course, she also spent seven years on Road to Avonlea, a spiritual successor to Anne of Green Gables, and of course, people who never set foot in Canada had a connection with her at a very young age:


As I mulled all this over, and laughed at the people who thought she first ‘happened’ in GO, I realized why I bristled so much at the idea of celebrating Sarah Polley as a ‘Canadian’ win, though she is very obviously and proudly Canadian, and proud to work outside of the greater Hollywood machine, from her sassy comments to her pointed tuxedo on the beige carpet.

It’s because she is Torontonian, specifically, and that’s an entirely different thing than being Canadian, though they’re not mutually exclusive. Those shows she made as a child were in and around here, she was as likely as any of us to be wandering on Queen Street or going to a show at one of the venues – in short, people of a certain age in Toronto grew up with her, whether or not they ever actually met her, and felt seen, in particular, by Take This Waltz, where the characters walked the routes we all did, trying to figure out how to grow up.


Just like we associate Ben Affleck with Boston or Beyoncé with Houston or Natasha Lyonne with New York, Sarah Polley is Toronto. She is as involved in local politics or public school issues as with her international career, and crucially, though she’s had more than ‘enough’ success to move south, she’s pointed about making Toronto her home, and that is rare enough to be notable, still (possibly forever). It does, however, mean that every publication in the country will write about her at the tiniest opportunity for the foreseeable future.

And why shouldn’t we be proud for the representation? It’s just *new*. It’s why I was so excited to see Sandra Oh and Domee Shi last night – yes, because they’re Canadian, sure – but more overtly because Turning Red, nominated for an Oscar, is overtly a love letter to Toronto, and it’s still incredibly rare to have our city appear as our own, and celebrate how cool it is. New York and Chicago and L.A. will never know what it’s like to remember the first time you saw your home onscreen.


All three had definitive red carpet looks, though. Sandra Oh so often comes through with the colour, and I wonder if we’re taking her for granted, because this Giambattista Valli is so rich and good:

Domee Shi (with producer Lindsey Collins) went as big as possible – you can’t really see her amazing eye makeup in this pic, but the over-the-top shoulders and sheer gloves and the chunk on that sparkly shoe? 


Also very Toronto of a certain era, IYKYK.

Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins attend the 95th Annual Academy Awards
Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins attend the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California

Finally, the angles on the ABC red carpet were odd to begin with, and there’s a large height differential between Sarah Polley and Ashley Graham, so when Polley said she chose her tux because “I don’t ever like to be cold and I don’t like my feet to hurt”, I couldn’t see the reaction on Graham’s face, but I wish I had. Confirming that even your first Oscar is not a good enough reason to be uncomfortable? That’s why Sarah Polley is a resolutely Torontonian hero, pretty much forever. Not sorry.