None of us are particularly enamoured of the year 2020. But before we write its obituary with satisfaction, let’s consider what kept us going. That was television, which just continued on as other arenas shut down. That was thanks to content already made. And Canadian TV kept chugging along, too, either in the all-Canadian category or in the made-in-Canada classification. We watched a lot of TV, allowing us to savour fine Canadian acting.
Now, you could say there were a lot of great performances of the kind we dislike. Such as certain CBC execs pretending to know how to run a public broadcaster with integrity and aplomb. Those were failed performances, so let’s not even go there.
Instead, here’s a list – not meant to be definitive – of great performances by Canadian actors this year.
Brian Markinson as Bukansky on Tribal (APTN): This underrated, minimalist First Nations police procedural arrived as something that hits you like a slap in the face. Markinson was brilliant, all addled rage and simmering resentment as Chuck (Buke) Bukansky, a bristling but almost broken-down veteran detective. He inhabited the role with relish and it was a punchy, powerful performance.
Jessica Matten, as Officer Samantha (Sam) Woodburn on Tribal (APTN): Playing Bukansky’s nemesis Matten pulled off something rare – a truly multilayered character in a police procedural. The Sam character is complicated, engaging in unsettling (for the viewer) games. Matten who was excellent in Frontier and Blackstone adds extra heft to an already potent role, an Interim Tribal Police Chief, a woman taking charge in a male-dominated field.