While Canadians are renowned for their Hollywood acting exports such as Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling and Michael J Fox, it’s not exactly as well known for its film industry. You’re unlikely to see many Canadian films in blogs that show you epic images behind the scenes from classic movies.
This is a great shame though, as there are numerous Canadian produced films which should be considered classics, and which stand the test of time in the pantheon of film history.
Here’s our selection for the top 5 Canadian films, in no particular order:
Dead Ringers (1988)
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold
Master actor Jeremy Irons brought twice the value to this classic in his roles as identical twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle, whose relationship begins to deteriorate over a female patient. This movie, which was shot in Toronto, was partially based on the lives of Stewart and Cyril Marcus, and won several awards, including the Genie Award for Best Canadian Film of 1988, while Irons won Best Actor awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
Director: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley and Bruce Greenwood
In this drama adapted from Russel Banks’ novel of the same name, a school bus accident in a small town in British Columbia results in the death of numerous children, leading to a class-action lawsuit that divides the community and affects personal and family issues. The book and movie is based on real events that happened in Alton, Texas in 1989. This acclaimed film won numerous awards and was named one of the ten best Canadian films of all time by Toronto International Film Festival critics, while it also received two Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Stories We Tell (2012)
Director: Sarah Polley
Starring: Rebecca Jenkins
The Sweet Hereafter’s Sarah Polley wrote and directed this documentary film which explores her family’s deepest secrets, including a revelation relating to Polley’s own identity. The film was widely acclaimed and won the $100,000 prize for best Canadian film at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Marc-André Grondin, Michel Côté, Danielle Proulx
This thoughtful French-language film tells the story of a young man named Zac, who is a young gay man that has to deal with homophobia while growing up with a conservative father and four brothers in Quebec during the 60s and 70s. Shot in Quebec and directed and co-written by Vallée, the fill was well received by critics and got an astonishing 100% rating on the film review website Rotten Tomatoes.
My Winnipeg (2007)
Director: Guy Maddin
Starring: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Louis Negin
While ostensibly a documentary, My Winnipeg actually portrays a series of fictional episodes with an overall story trajectory that examines the author-narrator-character “Guy Maddin” (Fehr) and his will to produce a film that will finally allow him to leave/escape Winnipeg. The film is hard to describe, and has been described by Maddin as “docu-fantasia that melds personal history, civic tragedy, and mystical hypothesizing”. The film has received consistent critical praise.