60+ great Canadian films, starring Canadians, filmed IN Canada!

With only a few minor cheats (which I'll note!), I've compiled a list of truly great Canadian film that fits the bill, from cast to director to location and back. Anyone who thinks we're not a powerhouse in our own right should see a few of these movies! (I've stopped at 50 so far, and they are - with the exception of my top pick - in no particular order, but I've already thought of several that deserve to be here, so don't be surprised if I come back and add more...and please feel free to leave suggestions for any I've overlooked! As you'll see, I've added a few comment-suggested titles already; thanks for the recs!) ~Last updated October 2012
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Last Night (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A group of very different individuals with different ideas of how to face the end come together as the world is expected to end in six hours at the turn of the century. (95 mins.)
Director: Don McKellar
“ Don McKellar's directorial debut, and an absolute masterpiece. Toronto like you've never seen it (that toppled streetcar will haunt your dreams, I promise you). Definitely an early point in the careers of faces that are familiar to us now: among many others, Sandra Oh, Sarah Polley, Callum Keith Rennie, Geneviève Bujold, the late great Tracy Wright, and even Don himself in the starring role. Bonus: David Cronenberg proves that he can act, not just direct. An excellent film on every level. ” - prettyh
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems. (112 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Rightfully nominated for an Oscar; in a different year, Atom Egoyan would've won! Bruce Greenwood and Sarah Polley are standouts, as usual, and the frozen north is beautiful and forbidding at the same time. This film deserves all of the international acclaim it's gotten. ” - prettyh
Hard Core Logo (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A group of washed-up Canadian punk rockers get back together for a road trip in memory of a dear friend who was supposedly shot, or so rumors imply. As they travel, they ignore the underlying psychological darkness within each other. (92 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ You know it's gotta be badass if A) Hugh Dillon is in it and B) Quentin Tarantino put his name on the reissue of the DVD! Director Bruce McDonald takes the source novel and propels it well out of "Spinal Tap" territory; a lot of people are still pretty sure HCL are a real band. And, hey, the actual Canadian group Billy Talent named their band after Callum Keith Rennie's character. ” - prettyh
Dead Ringers (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Twin gynecologists take full advantage of the fact that nobody can tell them apart, until their relationship begins to deteriorate over a woman. (116 mins.)
“ Okay, so Jeremy Irons isn't Canadian. You got me there. But he isn't twins, either, and you'd never believe THAT once you see this film! David Cronenberg gets a career-high performance out of his lead actor(s?!?), and includes a couple of real Canuck twins in the mix for good measure: Jill Hennessey and her sister Jacqueline. Add a glorious performance by Geneviève Bujold into the mix, and you get one of Cronenberg's finest works. This is one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen. ” - prettyh
Bon Cop Bad Cop (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Two Canadian detectives, one from Ontario and the other from Quebec, must work together when a murdered victim is found on the Ontario Quebec border line. (116 mins.)
Director: Erik Canuel
“ This captures perfectly the divide between English- and French-speaking Canada, and does so by being surprisingly hilarious. Watching two officers having to split jurisdiction when a dead body is found slung over the sign that separates Ontario and Québec is funnier than you might imagine; Colm Feore is always wonderful, and there are some great Canadian cameos throughout (Rick Mercer is but one!). ” - prettyh
Exotica (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Francis, whose daughter was murdered a few years ago, is always watching Christina dance in the night club Exotica. One night he is dared to touch the girl and ends up being thrown out. He then sends in Thomas to try and find explanations. (103 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Every Toronto resident will wish Exotica was a real place. Atom Egoyan works his magic on a building somewhere downtown; I've still not found it. :) Fantastic lead performances by Bruce Greenwood, Don McKellar, Elias Koteas, and the divine Mia Kirshner all build to a conclusion that ties the interwoven storylines together in a thoroughly unexpected - and deeply touching - way. Gorgeous. ” - prettyh
Highway 61 (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A small-town barber goes on a road trip from Thunder Bay to New Orleans with an unpredictable woman and a coffin. (102 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ There's no other way to describe this than to call it "delightfully quirky." If ever you've seen Don McKellar in anything and liked him, add this to your must-see list. ” - prettyh
Chloe (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A doctor hires an escort to seduce her husband, whom she suspects of cheating, though unforeseen events put the marriage in danger. (96 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Another cheat, I know; the three main leads (Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, and the fantastic Amanda Seyfried in the title role) are not Canadian. But Atom Egoyan is, and he somehow manages to make Toronto a star of the film. Thoroughly sexy, and featuring some great Canadian music by a band called Raised By Swans, which serves to add to the steamy, dreamy atmosphere. ” - prettyh
Century Hotel (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
An omnibus of seven stories, all set in the room 720 of Century Hotel, that illustrate the tense and changing nature of relationships between men and women during each of the seven decades between the 1920s and the 1990s. (97 mins.)
Director: David Weaver
“ A marvellous ensemble cast and a once-beautiful old Toronto hotel make this set of short stories a can't-miss movie. The people who help tell the story of one hotel room over a hundred years run the gamut, from Colm Feore, Lindy Booth, Mia Kirshner, Tom McCamus and David Hewlett to the likes of Canadian super-couple Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace) and Chantal Kreviazuk. The latter pair also lend their voices to the soundtrack. ” - prettyh
Away from Her (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A man coping with the institutionalization of his wife because of Alzheimer's disease faces an epiphany when she transfers her affections to another man, Aubrey, a wheelchair-bound mute who also is a patient at the nursing home. (110 mins.)
Director: Sarah Polley
“ Sarah Polley makes the jump from actress to director with incredible grace and skill here. Julie Christie (not Canadian - cheat!) was deservedly nominated for an Oscar in her role; Gordon Pinsent (Canadian!) ought to have gotten a nod as well. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking love story that needs to be seen. ” - prettyh
Monkey Warfare (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
(75 mins.)
“ Largely a three-person play on screen, this movie set in Toronto is given wings by its real life couple, Don McKellar and the late Tracy Wright, who careen brilliantly from funny to scarily intense and back again. Underrated, by far. You may be tempted to spark up as you watch. ” - prettyh
Adoration (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
For his French-class assignment, a high school student weaves his family history in a news story involving terrorism, and goes on to invite an Internet audience in on the resulting controversy. (101 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Expertly guided by Atom Egoyan are his then-wife, Arsinée Khanjian, and underrated Canadian actor Scott Speedman, in this tale that takes its sweet time to unfold, but gives us plenty to think about and drink in while it does so. (Keep an ear out for the debut of the aforementioned Raised By Swans, too. It was during this film that Egoyan decided he wanted to use the band in his next film, "Chloe.") ” - prettyh
One Week (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Chronicles the motorcycle trip of Ben Tyler as he rides from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia. Ben stops at landmarks that are both iconic and idiosyncratic on his quest to find meaning in his life. (94 mins.)
Director: Michael McGowan
“ Our hometown hero, Joshua Jackson, singlehandedly carries this tragic yet uplifting movie on his leather-clad back. His cross-country journey affords a breathtaking view of nearly every corner of this beautiful country, which should have gotten top billing alongside Joshua! Look for some great Canuck cameos as the trip moves forward, too. ” - prettyh
eXistenZ (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged. (97 mins.)
“ Definite cheat here, in that Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh are (technically) the two main stars in Cronenberg's freaky exploration of virtual reality. But once you see it, you'll understand why the appearances throughout by some of Canada's greatest talents (many of whom have already appeared on this list) - Don McKellar, Sarah Polley, Callum Keith Rennie and others - are so vital to the story! It was also wholly filmed in Ontario. ” - prettyh
Where the Truth Lies (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Karen O'Connor, a young journalist known for her celebrity profiles, is consumed with discovering the truth behind a long-buried incident that affected the lives and careers of showbiz team Vince Collins and Lanny Morris. (107 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ I'm taking liberties here, citing a movie starring two Americans (Kevin Bacon, Alison Lohman) and a Brit (Colin Firth), but the supporting cast of Rachel Blanchard, Maury Chaykin, Don McKellar, Arsinée Khanjian, Sonja Bennett and many others, along with the surprising amount of shooting done in Canada (despite being set mainly in Los Angeles) and the uber-Canadian director (Atom Egoyan again) balance it out, right? Besides, it's a fantastic noirish thriller with a few shocking twists just begging to be seen. There's a reason the MPAA wanted to rate this NC-17... ;) ” - prettyh
Past Perfect (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
The film intercuts between two days, two years apart. The first: a flight from Vancouver to Halifax... (91 mins.)
Director: Daniel MacIvor
“ This is a quiet little film about love, at its beginning and at its end, both told and acted by one of Canada's greatest storytellers, Daniel MacIvor. He and Rebecca Jenkins, over the course of a flight between Vancouver and Halifax (with flash-forwards, of course), manage to get their love story under the viewer's skin, and you can't help but care enough to stick around and find out just how they went from head over heels to heartbroken. ” - prettyh
Trigger (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Trigger is the story of two rock n' roll women who once shared a friendship, a band and a whole lot of chaos... (83 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ Tracy Wright was already sick when production on this film began; that adds a whole new layer to what was already a remarkable drama about a pair of ex-rocker chicks (Wright and the lovely Molly Parker) who come together in Toronto to revisit their crazy past for one night only. Lovingly written by Daniel MacIvor and directed by Bruce MacDonald, with fantastic cameos by Tracy's husband Don McKellar, Callum Keith Rennie (reprising his role as Billy Tallent from "Hard Core Logo"), Sarah Polley, Caroline Gillis and writer MacIvor, the film puts a wonderful exclamation point at the end of Tracy's career and, ultimately, her life. That it would have been just as poignant a film were she still here speaks volumes about all who are involved. ” - prettyh
Kissed (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Over the years, a child's romantic ideals about death blossom into necrophilia, the study of embalming and the most profound relationship of her life. (78 mins.)
“ This was my introduction to Molly Parker...and what an intro it was. While the subject matter (necrophilia? Really??) might seem off-putting at first, be prepared to be surprised at how very much this is a love story, made more than palatable - and in fact quite believable - through Molly's extraordinary performance. ” - prettyh
Childstar (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Taylor Brandon Burns, a conflicted twelve-year-old TV star from the U.S., runs away from the set - and his problems... (98 mins.)
Director: Don McKellar
“ Another clever piece of cinema brought to us by the hands of Don McKellar, who wrote, directed and starred alongside the ultimate in bratty Hollywood kid characters. Sharp and funny, it's a well-done satirical piece as well as a straightforward entertaining film. Loads of familiar Canadian faces - Gil Bellows, Alan Thicke, Dave Foley, Tracy Wright - pop up throughout the movie-within-a-movie, ensuring there's never a dull moment. ” - prettyh
Snow Cake (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A drama focused on the friendship between a high-functioning autistic woman and a man who is traumatized after a fatal car accident. (112 mins.)
Director: Marc Evans
“ Although marketed as a vehicle for Sigourney Weaver and Alan Rickman, one could make a very persuasive argument that this is truly Carrie-Anne Moss's movie. She is affectionately directed here in small-town Ontario, sharing the screen once more with Callum Keith Rennie (who starred as her nasty boyfriend in "Memento" several years earlier), and the combination of every element makes this a very sweet, effective film. ” - prettyh
Toronto Stories (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Various lives intersect over the course of 48 hours in Canada's largest and most culturally diverse city. (89 mins.)
“ Something of a love letter to the city, featuring a varied cast that would be familiar to many of us who've watched Canadian TV or film over the years (the insanely gorgeous Lisa Ray, the guy who made it big - Gil Bellows - in "Ally McBeal," and remember Sook-Yin Lee from her MuchMusic years?). ” - prettyh
Suspicious River (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
A young married woman (Parker) sells her body, not just for money, to guests at the motel where she works as a receptionist. (92 mins.)
“ To say this is a deeply sexy film might be...a bit warped. But I challenge you to tear your eyes away from the smoldering chemistry (however unhealthy) between Molly Parker and Callum Keith Rennie, in this envelope-pushing film about a motel in the middle of nowhere (presumably Suspicious River, in the deep woods of British Columbia). Boldly helmed by Montreal director Lynne Stopkewich, this one needs to be seen to be...understood. (A dear friend of mine read my blurb and strongly suggested I added a clearer warning re: just how dark the material gets; she rightly referred to the film as a "gloom inducer," so take that under advisement!) ” - prettyh
Calendar (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A photographer and his wife take photographs of Armenian churches for use in a calendar. Their driver... (74 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Probably one of Atom Egoyan's more overlooked works, this quietly moving film sucks you into the story of a man's dissolving marriage (played convincingly by Egoyan himself and real-life partner at the time, Arsinée Khanjian) and leaves you thinking about them long after the credits have rolled. Shot in both Canada and Armenia, the darks and lights are made brilliantly obvious in every shade through Atom's lens. It took me years to finally get around to seeing this; don't wait as long as I did. ” - prettyh
Wilby Wonderful (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A day-in-the-life dark comedy concerning a group of islanders, their respective secrets, and one man's plan to kill himself quietly. (99 mins.)
Director: Daniel MacIvor
“ Fans of "due South" will be in heaven watching this film, as it stars both Paul Gross and Callum Keith Rennie, alongside a bevy of other enormously talented Canadian stars (Sandra Oh, Ellen Page, Maury Chaykin, countless others) living the sometimes cloying small-town life in a picturesque east coast village called Wilby. Every single performance is note-perfect, and if you aren't either smiling or dabbing at your eyes by the end, you have no soul. ” - prettyh
Juno (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child. (96 mins.)
Director: Jason Reitman
“ Aside from being a critical darling and a huge box office hit, this film is very Canadian. Ellen Page and Michael Cera represent the home-country crowd, and filming took place in B.C. under the watchful eye of great Canadian director Jason Reitman. Chances are you've already seen this one - who hasn't?? - but on the off chance that I'm wrong, go rent it. Or buy it. Like, right now, home-skillet. ” - prettyh
Roadkill (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Ramona works in a concert agency and is sent after the rock band 'Children of Paradise' who have disappeared... (80 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ Many people consider this to be a precursor to Bruce McDonald's later black-and-white, musicians-on-the-road films like "Hard Core Logo." I can't disagree, although this one has its own special charms, propelled by performances by Bruce himself, as well as a young Don McKellar and an impressive turn by Valerie Buhagiar as the woman responsible for the entire road trip. It definitely gives a glimpse of the great things to come from these artists, and provides some good laughs in the meantime. ” - prettyh
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart. (112 mins.)
Director: Edgar Wright
“ One of the most innovative - and certainly hard to describe! - films in recent memory. Michael Cera is Scott Pilgrim, a lovable video game geek who is prepared to fight his way through the Toronto streets to win the heart of his one true love. It's weird, it's wacky, and it's full of nods to the city, including a great shot of the CN Tower, and a scene involving Don McKellar directing a film at Casa Loma. Another one of those "you've gotta see it to appreciate it" movies. :) ” - prettyh
Passchendaele (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The lives of a troubled veteran, his nurse girlfriend and a naive boy intersect first in Alberta and then in Belgium during the bloody World War I battle of Passchendaele. (114 mins.)
Director: Paul Gross
“ Paul Gross worked on this project for years before it came to fruition, pouring money, resources and time into it and never giving up. It shows in the final product. This is a stunningly beautiful story about one soldier's mission - both for his country and for love - on the front lines of World War I. Impressively, while the battle scenes look to be right out of a history book, the entire film was shot in Alberta. Truly a work of which Paul Gross should be very proud. Keep the tissues handy when you watch it. ” - prettyh
Double Happiness (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Twenty-two year old Chinese-Canadian Jade Li comes from a traditional Chinese family, who try to put... (87 mins.)
Director: Mina Shum
“ Sandra Oh made her mark on cinema with this film, and once again it shows how tight the Canadian acting community has remained over the years. Oh's character, Jade, is a Chinese-Canadian young woman whose family disapproves of her romance with a thoroughly Caucasian man, played by Callum Keith Rennie (brilliantly, as usual). It is a wonderfully touching story, funny and sweet, and - like so many others on my list - provides a glimpse into the careers these fantastic actors would develop. ” - prettyh
The Red Violin (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A perfect red-colored violin inspires passion, making its way through three centuries over several owners and countries, eventually ending up at an auction where it may find a new owner. (130 mins.)
“ This one is a definite cheat, but (like so many David Cronenberg films I've been forced to leave off, due to my own rules!) it is simply too wonderful not to add. Don McKellar stars in and wrote this masterpiece, a beautiful tale tracing the history of a violin and giving us glimpses of the lives of its owners over the years. While it was filmed in many locations worldwide, much of it was shot in Quebec, so between that and the McKellar factor I feel compelled to recommend it here! A major award winner, and deservedly so. ” - prettyh
Gunless (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A hardened American gunslinger is repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to mount a showdown in a friendly town in Canada where no one seems to understand or appreciate the brutal code of the American Wild West. (89 mins.)
“ A Paul Gross/Callum Keith Rennie western? It's as much fun as it sounds. There are in-jokes about "due South" here and there, and having Gross star as an American outlaw who thinks Canada is a bizarre and completely backwards place is very amusing to watch. Silliness abounds, Graham Greene brings his wise and winking humour to the table, and the scenery of northern B.C. adds a very pretty backdrop to what is, simply, fun-filled entertainment. ” - prettyh
Barney's Version (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. (134 mins.)
“ Only a mild cheat here. Yes, Paul Giamatti and Rosamund Pike are not from the True North, but the entire film is based on a book by our great Mordecai Richler, and the supporting cast - Bruce Greenwood, Scott Speedman, Clé Bennett - plus the director (Richard J. Lewis) and filming locations (mainly Montréal) add up. Richler's story itself is a very Canadian one. This is another movie that is too good a film to leave off the list on technicalities! ” - prettyh
Black Christmas (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger. (98 mins.)
Director: Bob Clark
“ How could any list of Canadian film not have this horror classic on it? Filmed on a real sorority row in Toronto, and starring the likes of Margot Kidder and Andrea Martin, this is a movie that clearly left its mark on the industry and has spawned countless remakes and riffs on the theme. It still holds up today, too; the obscene phone calls the sorority girls receive would probably never make it past a censor now. ” - prettyh
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son. (95 mins.)
Director: Kurt Kuenne
“ I started out with the intention of NOT adding documentaries to this list, because they could easily make up one of their own. But "Dear Zachary" must be one of the most shocking, heartbreaking and utterly haunting things ever put on film in Canada, and it deserves a place here as a result. Do yourself a favour: Watch it without knowing anything about it first. Go in blind. It will hit you like a ton of bricks, and you'll never forget it. ” - prettyh
Ararat (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Interrogated by a customs officer, a young man recounts how his life was changed during the making of a film about the Armenian genocide. (115 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ It's hard not to make this list Egoyan-heay when the man has made so many remarkable movies! "Ararat" is no exception. Featuring the remarkable talents of Christopher Plummer and Arsinée Khanjian, among others, it relates to us a story of genocide about which many of us still know very little. That puts it in the "Important Films" category as well as just serving to entertain. ” - prettyh
Incendies (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Twins journey to the Middle East to discover their family history, and fulfill their mother's last wishes. (131 mins.)
“ Many believe this deserved to win the 2011 Best Foreign Film Oscar; it's a shame that it did not. Denis Villeneuve take us from Québec to the Middle East in search of the truth about the mother of two Canadian girls, and everything about the way the story unfolds deserves acclaim. Here's hoping its nomination by the Academy has resulted in more people seeing it. ” - prettyh
Scanners (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him. (103 mins.)
“ David Cronenberg at his finest! Filmed between Toronto and Montréal, "Scanners" was groundbreaking at the time of its release, using gore special effects for which Cronenberg has become known and loved. Michael Ironside (a truly underrated and underused Canadian actor) not only graces the cover but is the centre of what must be one of the most memorable scenes in horror history. Still a great watch 30 years later. ” - prettyh
Dance Me Outside (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A story of life on a First Nations reserve in Ontario: Silas and Frank are trying to get into college... (84 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ It wasn't until Adam Beach popped up on "Law & Order: SVU" in recent seasons that I recalled being charmed by a little film by Bruce McDonald (and, as it turns out, co-written by Don McKellar!) back in high school. Beach and Hugh Dillon are but two standouts in this movie set on a First Nations reserve in Northern Ontario; listen for Dillon's band, The Headstones, who provide some of the music for the film as well. ” - prettyh
C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
C.R.A.Z.Y. Extraordinary lives of ordinary people in search of love and happiness - that's the premise of "C.R.A.Z.Y", a family drama unlike any other. (127 mins.)
“ While it's been some years since I've seen it, I think it would be remiss to leave off this important film out of Québec, fearlessly written and directed by Jean-Marc Valée and tackling the subject of homophobia in the 1970s. The all-Québecois cast is strong and fills out the story in every direction. It won a lot of awards (Genies and others) upon its release and is still a critical darling, for good reason. ” - prettyh
The Barbarian Invasions (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
During his final days, a dying man is reunited with old friends, former lovers, his ex-wife, and his estranged son. (99 mins.)
Director: Denys Arcand
“ I may have my citizenship revoked for saying this, but I've never been a huge fan of Denys Arcand's work. (I know, I know!) Even so, I'm not blind to the talent it takes to make movies such as "The Barbarian Invasions," and Arcand's Academy Award stands proudly in a display case at the TIFF Lightbox Theatre in Toronto, so clearly I am in the minority. For that reason, then, I feel I ought to include this, his best known work, alongside my other recommendations. ” - prettyh
Polytechnique (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A dramatization of the Montreal Massacre of 1989 where several female engineering students were murdered by an unstable misogynist. (77 mins.)
“ Most Canadians - and probably many of our international friends - know about what happened in December of 1989 at a college in Montréal. The massacre has been covered many times before, but never quite like this. In the vein of Gus van Sant's "Elephant" (Columbine-inspired), "Polytechnique" gives us a harrowing glimpse into what it must have been like inside the school that day. Warning: It's not an easy watch. But it is important, and effective, and was approved by the victims' families ahead of release, so if you can bear it, see it. [Thanks to IMDb user jsmith25-3-591030 for reminding me to add this gem to the list.] ” - prettyh
Waydowntown (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A group of young employees bet a month's salary, winner takes all, on who can last the longest without going outside. (87 mins.)
Director: Gary Burns
“ [Suggested by IMDb user jsmith25-3-591030] I'd left this one off the list for fear of weighing it down with McKellar-mania, but since there's no denying he's one of our country's greatest talents, I suppose there's no need to skimp! JSmith is right in saying that "Sadly-I'm-Bradley" - and the rest of the offbeat, funny film - deserves a spot here. ” - prettyh
The Trotsky (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A Montreal high school student who believes he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky starts a revolution against apathy among his fellow students. (120 mins.)
Director: Jacob Tierney
“ [Suggested by IMDb user jsmith25-3-591030] It made an impression at TriBeCa two years ago, and with a cast including Colm Feore and the lovely Jessica Paré (not to mention Genevieve Bujold, a fantastic actress who has left her mark on Canadian cinema long before now in the aforementioned "Last Night" and "Dead Ringers," among others) you've gotta know it's worth watching. ” - prettyh
Cube (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Six complete strangers of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in an endless maze containing deadly traps. (90 mins.)
Director: Vincenzo Natali
“ [Suggested by IMDb user filmmagnet] This twisty film features the likes of David Hewlett and Julian Richings, both of whom have been featured more than once on this list already! Hard to tell that it was filmed in Canada, given the setting, but we can take IMDb's word for it and boggle at the set they built in Toronto to contain this giant mindscrew. ” - prettyh
The Saddest Music in the World (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A musical of sorts set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win the $25,000 prize. (100 mins.)
Director: Guy Maddin
“ [Suggested by IMDb user filmmagnet] A terrible oversight of mine, indeed. While the featured star is Isabella Rossellini, our own Mark McKinney more than holds his own, and Winnipeg can be said to play its own role in the film. Added weight in the shape of Atom Egoyan as producer make this a great recommendation. ” - prettyh
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet. (106 mins.)
Director: Craig Gillespie
“ I was surprised to find out that this Ryan Gosling movie was actually shot in Ontario, which means I can legitimately add it to this list for reasons other than my fondness for its quirky charm! ” - prettyh
Whale Music (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Shot around the breathtaking coastline of B.C.'s Howe Sound, Whale Music is the triumphant adaptation... (107 mins.)
“ I recently caught this again on the Sundance Channel, and was reminded of just how much we lost in Maury Chaykin's passing. Certainly some of his greatest work. Add some gorgeous BC scenery and supporting actors like Paul Gross and Jennifer Dale (among many others), and you've got a lovely little film that should be seen by more people. ” - prettyh
I'm Yours (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  
A road movie romance that conjures a heady concoction of free love and end of the world conspiracy. (90 mins.)
“ I've yet to see this one myself, but it generated some buzz at TIFF 2011 (and sold out VERY quickly, which is why I missed it!), and friends of mine who saw it had special praise for the cast, notably Rossif Sutherland and Karine Vanasse (you've seen them before, even if you don't realize it), as well as Don McKellar, Nicholas Campbell, and Greg Calderone. Keep an eye out for it. ” - prettyh
Hard Core Logo 2 (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  
Bruce the filmmaker returns to his documentary roots by following a troubled singer. (85 mins.)
Director: Bruce McDonald
“ If you're a fan of the first film, don't make the mistake of going into this one expecting a typical sequel (which would've been difficult given the trajectory of #1). Instead, get ready to see Bruce McDonald in FRONT of the camera this time, as himself, the documentarian who brought us footage of the implosion of Billy Tallent's and Joe Dick's band years ago, which is quite a treat. He's joined by HCL's original Bucky Haight (Julian Richings in a fantastic, acidic performance) and a new musical muse in Care Failure (Die Mannequin). It's weird, it's funny, it's 100% Bruce. Treat it as a separate entity from HCL and you'll appreciate it more. ” - prettyh
Flower & Garnet (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Garnet, 8 years old, has a father who has difficulty showing him love, since Garnet's mother died during his birth. Only getting affection by his 16 year old sister Flower, the situation changes when she leaves when she gets pregnant. (103 mins.)
Director: Keith Behrman
“ A surprisingly real film that packs a punch in the end. Callum Keith Rennie once again shows he can carry a movie effortlessly, and Jane & Colin (who play the titular characters, respectively) are duly impressive. A bit on the complex side, but worth hanging in to see how it all unfolds. ” - prettyh
Jesus of Montreal (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A group of actors put on an unorthodox, but acclaimed Passion Play which incites the opposition of the Catholic Church while the actors' lives themselves begin to mirror the Passion itself. (118 mins.)
Director: Denys Arcand
“ Recommended by my friend Karl, whose taste I trust before even seeing the film. :) ” - prettyh
Cold Comfort (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
Three lonely people depend on each other when they get stranded at a deserted gas station in a blizzard... (111 mins.)
Director: Vic Sarin
“ Recommended by my friend Karl, whose taste I trust before even seeing the film. :) ” - prettyh
A Winter Tan (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Maryse Holden, a professor, feminist activist spent the last months before her murder in Mexico on "a... (91 mins.)
“ [Suggested by IMDb user Lakota316] I've yet to see this one, but I do know it's starring the late, great Jackie Burroughs. ” - prettyh
Monsieur Lazhar (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
At a Montréal public grade school, an Algerian immigrant is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom. While helping his students deal with their grief, his own recent loss is revealed. (94 mins.)
“ While Fellag isn't Canadian (he is, in fact, Algerian), some who've seen the film argue that one of the Quebecois students is the "star" of the film. Any which way you look at it, the Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film was well deserved. ” - prettyh
Citizen Gangster (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
WWII vet Eddie Boyd is torn between providing for his young family and an unfulfilled dream of becoming a Hollywood star. He discovers a way to do both, but his dream leads him down a path of danger and tragedy. (105 mins.)
Director: Nathan Morlando
“ Scott Speedman's "Citizen Gangster" portrayal has won him high praise, even as the film itself has gotten mixed reviews. Still, worth seeing for such an interesting tale of Canadian history about which not nearly enough people know! ” - prettyh
Pin (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
Isolated by his strange parents, Leon finds solace in an imaginary friend, which happens to be an anatomy doll from his father's doctor office. Unfortunately, the doll begins to take over Leon's life, and his sister's life as well. (103 mins.)
Director: Sandor Stern
“ Aside from 'Black Christmas,' this was one of the first Canadian horror films I ever saw, and it was definitely the first impression I got of David Hewlett, which is...disturbing! (Recommended all the way from Serbia by IMDb user gaborovicmario - thank you!) ” - prettyh
La guerre des tuques (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
During Christmas holidays, the children of a small village split themselves into two groups and begin preparing a week-long snowball war. The rivalry opens up tension among group members, especially leaders Luc and Sophie. (92 mins.)
“ Also known as 'The Dog Who Stopped The War,' I imagine a lot of Canadians, both anglo- and francophone, will remember shedding a tear (or more) when they first watched this classic from the mid-80s. (Thanks again to IMdb user gaborovicmario) ” - prettyh
The Hanging Garden (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
William, a once obese and depressed adolescent, is able to move past his teenage years when he moves to the city and comes out as being gay. When he returns home though, he can't cope with his memories. (91 mins.)
Director: Thom Fitzgerald
“ A gorgeous film shot in Cape Breton, NS, and featuring homegrown talent like Sarah Polley and eminent east coast musician Ashley McIasaac. (Thanks to Brian Cartwright for suggesting it!) ” - prettyh
Shivers (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
The residents of a suburban high-rise apartment building are being infected by a strain of parasites that turn them into mindless, sex-crazed fiends out to infect others by the slightest sexual contact. (87 mins.)
“ I know I've apologized before on this list about how prominently featured certain directors have been, but I have gotten many, many comments (some of which sadly got lost when IMDb changed its comment format - I'm sorry if I lost anyone's names) requesting that more be added, and I certainly agree with the picks put forth...so here is yet another classic Cronenberg film from the '70s! (Thank you to Mario Gaborovic for requesting its inclusion - he has contributed quite a few to this list, all the way from Serbia!) ” - prettyh
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior's endurance and battle of its menace. (172 mins.)
Director: Zacharias Kunuk
“ I have yet to see this (shame on me) but I remember its great critical reception upon its release. It's also the only film thus far on my list to be filmed in Inuktitut, with English and French subtitles available. An important addition to any list that wants to represent all of Canada. (Credit to Brian Cartwright for reminding me to look it up!) ” - prettyh
The Fly (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong. (96 mins.)
“ Now this one seems on the surface like a flat-out cheat, considering the two leads are American actors. I'm adding it, however, not only due to popular demand (thanks again to Brian and to others before him) but because it was indeed filmed entirely in Toronto, boasts a Canadian director, AND features some unique Canadian talent, notably George Chuvalo. So...cheat duly noted, but it's certainly worth a look if you don't mind a non-Canadian lead cast! ” - prettyh
Take This Waltz (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street. (116 mins.)
Director: Sarah Polley
“ I love this movie. Sarah Polley again proves herself to be a marvellous director and makes you feel as though you know these characters. Filmed on location in the west end of Toronto, and featuring great scenes at Centre Island and down at the Lakeshore near Cherry Beach, locals will feel right at home watching, and others will want to become tourists. (There's also a lovely visit out east bookending the film; breathtaking as always.) Michelle Williams may not be Canadian, but her equally important and powerful male costars - Seth Rogen (in a rare but truly remarkable dramatic performance) and Luke Kirby (remember how much you loved him as Jack in "Slings & Arrows" opposite Rachel McAdams? He's even more handsome and charming now) - are most decidedly products of the Great White North. ” - prettyh