Lights, Camera, Action: Best Canadian Films Past to Present

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Lights, Camera, Action: Best Canadian Films Past to Present

If you’re a big fan of the Deadpool franchise, were stunned by landscapes in the Revenant, or sang along with the 2019 version of Disney’s Aladdin, then you might be surprised to learn that all of these movies were actually filmed in Canada.

In fact, many of the world’s most popular movies are either made in Canada or feature Canadian talent, with the city of Vancouver even being touted as the ‘Hollywood North’. As the third-largest film production center in North America, Vancouver has held the title since the 1970s because of the blockbuster movies and TV shows that have come there to film.

“So many movies and TV shows are so clearly identifiable as being filmed in Vancouver, says the chief executive of Creative BC Prem Gill,  “If our city can be what you want it to be, to tell your story, then that’s great.  And if we are part of the story, that’s even better.”

But it’s more than just the spectacular landscapes that make Canada a go-to for filmmakers; the country also offers excellent production value that simply isn’t available elsewhere. While studios in Hollywood have highly efficient soundstages and an abundance of skilled technicians, the unions’ work rules can make it an expensive choice for productions.

Since the demand for entertaining content remains so strong, there is no question that the country will maintain its status as the Hollywood of the north and continue to produce original content of its own. And a new campaign is making sure Canadian creators finally get the recognition that they deserve.

MADE | NOUS is a campaign launched by top entertainment industry players to celebrate the work of Canadian creators in film, television, video games and digital entertainment. The purpose of the campaign is to highlight the achievements of those creators who bring stories to life, while encouraging audiences to discover and celebrate their work.

“We are finally getting the opportunity to celebrate the best of Canada’s talent and content,” says Mathieu Chantelois, an executive of the Canada Media Fund, one of the organizations that helped bring the campaign to life.

Meanwhile, Canadian actor and filmmaker Jay Baruchel worked alongside MADE | NOUS during the month of April, taking to Twitter to highlight some of the best Canadian films to watch during the COVID-19 quarantine.  Each day, Baruchel tweeted his movie recommendations, taking Canadians on a virtual cross-country road trip to introduce them to engaging content from coast to coast to coast.

The actor notes, “For whoever’s able to stay home right now, they’re now all of a sudden with a surplus of free time. I’d be remiss if I couldn’t point people to some great Canadian TV and movies they might not know exist.”  For television and movie lovers, Baruchel’s list is a great starting point.

If you’re a movie buff, you can’t miss out on some of the best films that Canada has to offer:

  1. Meatballs – A classic Canadian cult comedy from 1979, Meatballs was directed by Ivan Reitman, whose later comedies included Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (1984). The film is known for Bill Murray’s first film appearance in a starring role, and to date is one of the highest grossing Canadian films of all time.
  2. Our People will be Healed – You can’t truly consider yourself a connoisseur of Canadian film if you haven’t explored the works of Alanis Obomsawin, one of the most highly acclaimed Indigenous directors in the world. Her 50th film, Our People Will be Healed, sheds light on the power of education for a Cree community in Manitoba and was named to TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top Ten list of the ten best Canadian films upon its release.
  3. The Fly – Described as “the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world”, Canadian director David Cronenberg has wowed audiences and critics worldwide with his daring films. The Fly, released in 1986, received massive critical acclaim, including an Academy Award for Best Makeup, and is the highest grossing film of Cronenberg’s career to date.
  1. Bon Cop, Bad Cop ­– One of the highest-grossing Canadian films of all time domestically, this 2006 dark comedy is a bilingual feature film, featuring dialogue in both English and French. The film received a number of award nominations across Canada, including Genie Awards and Canadian Comedy Awards.
  2. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner – Written and directed by acclaimed Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk, this 2001 epic is the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in the Inuktitut language. In 2015, filmmakers and critics at the Toronto International Film Festival named it the greatest Canadian film of all time.
  3. The BreadwinnerThis 2017 animated drama is an international co-production between Canada, Ireland and Luxembourg. The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was lauded for its stunning visuals and compelling storytelling, and received a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards.
  4. The Barbarian Invasions – This French-Canadian comedy-drama is actually the sequel to director Denis Arcand’s 1986 film The Decline of the American Empire. However, the sequel itself was a major critical success, as the first Canadian film to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004. It also won awards at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, six Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture, and three César Awards, including Best Film.
  5. Mommy – After winning the Jury Prize upon its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, Xavier Dolan’s 2014 family drama became a financial and critical success worldwide, winning 9 Canadian Screen Awards (including Best Picture), and grossing over $13 million worldwide.  Away from Her A familiar face to Canadian audiences since her days as a child actress, Sarah Polley has also become a celebrated director and produc
  6. er with a powerful body of work. Her 2006 independent drama garnered critical acclaim for its depiction of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s. The film received two Academy Awards nominations, for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won seven Genie Awards.
  7. The Sweet Hereafter One of Canada’s most renowned directors, Atom Egoyan’s oeuvre includes more than fifteen feature films that have received numerous international awards. This 1997 drama, starring Sarah Polley, won the Grand Prix at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, as well as seven Genie Awards, received two Academy Awards nominations, and holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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