Sometimes it’s hard to remember that not all great films come from Hollywood. These are some of the best Canadian films ever made; you should definitely check them out!
This is a wonderful film both in and outside of Canadian context. The French-language Québécois masterpiece recounts the story of Zachary Beaulieu (played by Marc-André Grondin), who struggles with his homosexuality and homophobia while growing up with four brothers and an ultra-conservative father (played by Michel Côté). The film has accumulated various awards, including City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival, and currently holds a perfect score on the famed movie review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes.
Away from Her (2006)
The heartbreaking story of a retired married couple, Grant and Fiona, whose relationship is put to the test when Fiona (Julie Christie) begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s and loses her memory of Grant (Gordon Pinsent) while at a nursing home. The film won seven of the eight Genie Awards it was nominated for, and it was also nominated for two Academy Awards. It’s a great watch, but you might want to grab a box of tissues beforehand.
A mystery-drama following Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and her twin, Simon (Maxim Gaudette), who retrace their late mother’s past (per her last wishes) back to a war-torn country in the Middle East. It’s an incredible story loosely based on the life of Souha Bechara. The film received eight Genie Awards and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. It’s such a haunting story and a true masterpiece!
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My Winnipeg (2008)
This strange “docu-fantasia” focuses on a fictional version of the film’s director, Guy Maddin (played by Darcy Fehr but voiced by Maddin himself), as he attempts to narrate his way out of his hometown, Winnipeg, through a series of mockumentary-style episodes. It might sound confusing, but it’s worth watching. Maddin’s take on his Winnipeg is intoxicatingly interesting. This film is considered one of the best movies of the past decade and is currently holding a 94 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Trotsky (2009)
This movie tells the story of a Montreal high school student, Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel), who believes he is the reincarnation of the famed Russian Marxist revolutionary, Leon Trotsky. The film follows Bronstein as he takes on his high school principal in the quest to uphold his Trotsky activist views. The movie received positive reviews and is hilarious to watch.
Dead Ringers (1988)
This is a David Cronenberg delight! The filmmaker is famed for his body horror movies, and we could have included a fair handful in this list (like Videodrome!), but Dead Ringers is just such a haunting piece of cinematography. The film focuses on identical twins and gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle, who take advantage of their physical likeness and profession until one patient begins to strain their relationship. It’s a great twisted story you’re sure to love!
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Mon Oncle Antoine (1971)
This film is considered one of the best in Canadian history, and with good reason. The movie, set during the Christmas season, examines life in the Asbestos region of Quebec during the Maurice Duplessis era through the eyes of 15-year-old Benoît (played by Jacques Gagnon), who is learning the way of life in the mining town. It’s a great portrayal of rural Quebec prior to the Asbestos strike and the Quiet Revolution. Mon Oncle Antoine is a true Canadian masterpiece and can be appreciated by just about anyone. Even late film critic Robert Ebert included the film on his list of “Great Movies.”
Jesus of Montreal (1989)
The movie tells the story of an actor, Daniel (played by Lothaire Bluteau), who is hired by a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site to organize a Passion Play and who creates an unconventional account of Jesus’ life with the help of his group of actors from Montreal. Daniel’s own storyline was aimed to mimic that of Christ’s. It’s a great film with an interesting angle.
Monsieur Lazhar (2011)
This is an amazing movie! It’s a story of an Algerian immigrant, Bachir Lazhar (Mohamed Fellag), who is hired to teach an elementary school class and who attempts to help the students recover from the tragic death of their previous teacher whilst battling with the losses of his own past. Monsieur Lazhar was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and currently holds 97 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Decline of the American Empire (1986)
This comedy-drama is perfect for a night in with your other half or just with the girls. The story revolves around eight friends from the Department of History at the University of Montreal, who decide to have dinner at a secluded location. Things go awry when a discussion of past sexual affairs stirs up a conflict. The film won nine Genie Awards as well as the International Critics’ Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s hilarious and relatable, but you might want to put the kids to bed for this one.