Canadian cinema has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century, and has produced some highly acclaimed films and directors over the years. Canadian movies are known for their unique storytelling style, blending humor, drama, and social commentary.

They often tackle issues such as Canadian identity, multiculturalism, and the relationship between Canada and the United States.

Some of the most notable Canadian movies include “Mon Oncle Antoine” (1971) directed by Claude Jutra, “The Sweet Hereafter” (1997) directed by Atom Egoyan, “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” (2001) directed by Zacharias Kunuk, and “Incendies” (2010) directed by Denis Villeneuve.

The Canadian film industry has also produced internationally renowned actors and actresses such as Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, and Jim Carrey.

Best Canadian Movies

Canadian cinema continues to flourish today, with a growing number of independent filmmakers and emerging talent. The country also hosts several major film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, which has become a prominent showcase for Canadian and international cinema.

1. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)

“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” is a 1974 Canadian drama film directed by Ted Kotcheff, based on the novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler. The film tells the story of Duddy Kravitz, a young Jewish man from Montreal who is determined to become wealthy and successful, no matter the cost.

The film is known for its gritty realism and honest portrayal of the struggles faced by working-class people in Montreal during the mid-20th century. It explores themes of ambition, greed, and the corruption that can arise from the pursuit of wealth and power.

Richard Dreyfuss delivers a powerful performance as Duddy Kravitz, and the film’s supporting cast includes notable actors such as Randy Quaid and Jack Warden. The film was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Overall, “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” is a must-watch for fans of Canadian cinema and anyone interested in compelling character studies that delve into the human condition. Its themes and messages are still relevant today, and it remains a powerful and thought-provoking film that resonates with audiences of all ages.

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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Richler, Mordecai (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 03/01/1999 (Publication Date) - Gallery Books (Publisher)

2. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

“Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” is a 2001 Canadian Inuktitut-language epic film directed by Zacharias Kunuk. The film is based on an ancient Inuit legend and tells the story of a community of Inuit in the Canadian Arctic in the 11th century.

The central character, Atanarjuat, is a young man who must navigate his way through a complex web of interpersonal relationships and conflicts in order to secure his place in the community.

Atanarjuat’s rival, Oki, becomes increasingly jealous and resentful of his successes, and their rivalry sets off a chain of events that threatens the stability of the entire community.

The film is notable for its authentic portrayal of Inuit culture and traditional ways of life. The actors are all Inuit people from the area where the film was shot, and the film incorporates traditional Inuit storytelling techniques, such as the use of drumming and throat singing. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the beauty and harshness of the Arctic landscape.

   

“Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” received critical acclaim upon its release and was widely praised for its unique and authentic depiction of Inuit culture and storytelling traditions. It won the Caméra d’Or award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, and was later named one of the top ten Canadian films of all time by the Toronto International Film Festival.

3. Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006)

“Bon Cop, Bad Cop” is a Canadian comedy-crime film directed by Erik Canuel and released in 2006.

The movie follows two police detectives, one from Ontario and one from Quebec, who are forced to work together to solve a murder that occurred on the Ontario-Quebec border. The film is known for its bilingual script, with dialogue in both English and French, reflecting the bilingualism of Canada and its cultural identity.

The movie was a critical and commercial success in Canada, becoming the highest-grossing Canadian film of all time at the Canadian box office upon its release. The film won several awards, including the Genie Award for Best Motion Picture, and was praised for its clever script, witty humor, and strong performances by its cast.

The success of “Bon Cop, Bad Cop” helped to pave the way for more bilingual and multicultural Canadian films.

Bon Cop Bad Cop / Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 (Double Feature)
  • Michel Beaudry, Patrice Bélanger, Colm Feore (Actors)
  • Alain Desrochers (Director)

4. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)

“C.R.A.Z.Y.” is a 2005 French-Canadian drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. The movie tells the story of a young boy named Zachary, who is the fourth of five sons born into a traditional Catholic family in Quebec during the 1960s and 1970s. Zachary struggles with his identity as he grows up, feeling like an outsider and dealing with conflicts with his conservative father.

The film is known for its exploration of themes such as family, identity, and sexuality. It features a strong soundtrack with classic rock music from the 1960s and 1970s, which plays a significant role in the narrative. The movie received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Best Picture Award at the Jutra Awards (the Quebec equivalent of the Academy Awards).

C.R.A.Z.Y. [DVD] [2006]
  • Jean-Louis Roux, Claude Gagnon, Danielle Proulx (Actors)
  • Jean-Marc Vall�e (Director)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

5. Eastern Promises (2007)

“Eastern Promises” is a British-Canadian crime thriller film released in 2007. The movie was directed by David Cronenberg and starred Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, and Vincent Cassel. The film follows the story of a midwife named Anna who becomes embroiled in the Russian mafia’s criminal underworld in London. Anna discovers a diary left by a teenage Russian girl who died during childbirth and becomes determined to find the girl’s family and protect her newborn baby.

   

“Eastern Promises” received critical acclaim for its tense and suspenseful storytelling, strong performances, and realistic portrayal of the Russian criminal underworld. Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of a ruthless and complex Russian gangster earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The film was also praised for its use of violence and sexuality to explore themes of identity, loyalty, and family in the context of the criminal underworld.

Overall, “Eastern Promises” is considered one of the best crime thrillers of the 21st century and a standout film in David Cronenberg’s impressive filmography.

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Eastern Promises [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel (Actors)
  • David Cronenberg (Director) - Steven Knight (Writer) - Paul Webster (Producer)
  • French, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

6. The F Word (2013)

“The F Word” (also known as “What If”) is a 2013 romantic comedy film directed by Michael Dowse. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Wallace, a young man who strikes up a friendship with Chantry (Zoe Kazan), a woman who has a boyfriend.

The film explores the complexities of modern-day relationships, including the fear of commitment, the difficulties of finding a soulmate, and the importance of communication. The chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan is undeniable, and their witty banter and quirky personalities make for a charming and enjoyable romantic comedy.

The film’s supporting cast is also notable, with strong performances from Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis. The film received generally positive reviews for its fresh take on the romantic comedy genre, and it offers a refreshing and entertaining look at the ups and downs of modern-day relationships.

Overall, “The F Word” is a charming and lighthearted romantic comedy that is sure to appeal to fans of the genre. Its witty humor, engaging performances, and relatable themes make it a must-watch for anyone looking for a fun and entertaining movie.

7. Fubar (2002) and Fubar II (2010)

“Fubar” (2002) and its sequel “Fubar II” (2010) are Canadian mockumentary films directed by Michael Dowse. The films follow the lives of two lifelong friends, Terry and Dean, who are heavy metal enthusiasts and live in the fictional town of Bonavista, Alberta.

The films are shot in a documentary-style format and follow Terry and Dean as they drink, party, and get into various misadventures. Despite their antics, the films also explore the bonds of friendship and the challenges of growing up and facing adulthood.

“Fubar” and “Fubar II” both received critical acclaim for their authentic portrayal of blue-collar Canadian life and their hilarious yet poignant exploration of friendship and growing up. The films have since become cult classics and have spawned a loyal fanbase.

Fubar II: Balls to the Wall [Blu-ray]
  • David Lawrence, Jamil Jabril, Paul Spence (Actors)
  • Michael Dowse (Director)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

8. Goin’ Down the Road (1970)

“Goin’ Down the Road” is a Canadian drama film directed by Donald Shebib and released in 1970. The movie follows two young men from the Maritimes, Peter and Joey, who move to Toronto in search of better job opportunities and a more exciting life. However, they soon find that life in the big city is not what they expected, and struggle to make ends meet.

The film is considered a landmark in Canadian cinema, as it portrayed the struggles of working-class Canadians and their search for a better life. It is known for its realistic portrayal of life in the 1970s, and for its use of non-professional actors who brought a sense of authenticity to the film.

   

“Goin’ Down the Road” has been praised for its powerful storytelling, social commentary, and gritty realism, and is often cited as one of the best Canadian films of all time. The film has had a lasting impact on Canadian cinema, inspiring other filmmakers to explore the lives of everyday Canadians and their struggles.

GOIN' DOWN THE ROAD / DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN (2 Film Collector's Edition) (BLU-RAY)
  • Donald Shebib (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: G (General Audience)

9. Goon (2011)

“Goon” is a 2011 Canadian sports comedy film directed by Michael Dowse. The movie stars Seann William Scott as Doug Glatt, a bouncer who becomes a hockey enforcer for a minor league team, despite having no previous experience in the sport. The film is loosely based on the life of real-life hockey enforcer Doug Smith.

The movie is known for its blend of humor, violence, and heart. It explores themes such as loyalty, masculinity, and the role of violence in sports. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Jay Baruchel, Eugene Levy, and Liev Schreiber, among others. It received positive reviews and has since become a cult classic. A sequel, “Goon: Last of the Enforcers,” was released in 2017.

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Goon (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber (Actors)
  • Michael Dowse (Director)
  • Spanish (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

10. Incendies (2010)

“Incendies” is a Canadian-French drama film released in 2010, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The film is based on the play “Scorched” by Wajdi Mouawad and tells the story of a pair of siblings, Jeanne and Simon, who travel to the Middle East to uncover the secrets of their mother’s past after her death. They learn about their mother’s traumatic experiences during a civil war and are shocked by the revelation of family secrets that have been kept hidden for years.

The film received critical acclaim for its powerful storytelling, emotional performances, and haunting cinematography. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards and won numerous awards at international film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.

Overall, “Incendies” is a powerful and deeply moving film that explores themes of war, family, and identity. The film’s intricate plot and complex characters leave a lasting impression on the audience and demonstrate Villeneuve’s skill as a filmmaker.

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Incendies (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
  • Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray, AC-3, Closed-captioned
  • English (Subtitled), French (Original Language)
  • 1
  • 130

11. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (1987)

“I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” is a 1987 Canadian film written and directed by Patricia Rozema. The film tells the story of Polly, a young woman with a passion for photography, who gets a job as an assistant to an art gallery owner, Gabrielle. Through her work, Polly becomes entangled in the complicated personal life of Gabrielle, including her romantic relationships with both men and women.

The film explores themes of sexuality, identity, and the art world. It also features a strong female lead in Polly, who is both quirky and endearing. The film’s unique visual style, which includes whimsical animation and dream sequences, adds to its charm.

“I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” received critical acclaim upon its release and won several awards, including the Prix de la Jeunesse at the Cannes Film Festival. It is considered a seminal work in Canadian cinema, and Rozema’s direction and writing have been praised for their sensitivity and originality.

Overall, “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing” is a captivating and thought-provoking film that explores complex themes with a light touch. Its strong performances, unique style, and engaging story make it a must-see for fans of indie cinema.

I've Heard The Mermaids Singing [DVD]
  • I'VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING (DVD MOVIE)
  • Sheila McCarthy, Paule Baillaregeon, Ann-Marie MacDonald (Actors)
  • Patricia Rozema (Director) - Patricia Rozema (Writer) - Alexandra Raffe (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

12. Jesus of Montreal (1989)

“Jesus of Montreal” is a Canadian drama film directed by Denys Arcand. The film tells the story of a group of actors in Montreal who are hired to stage a Passion play. As they rehearse and perform the play, they begin to blur the lines between reality and fiction, and the lead actor becomes obsessed with his role as Jesus.

The film explores themes of religion, faith, and the conflict between art and commercialism. It also critiques the Catholic Church and the exploitation of religious figures for profit. The film features a strong ensemble cast, including Lothaire Bluteau, Catherine Wilkening, and Johanne-Marie Tremblay.

“Jesus of Montreal” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989 and went on to win numerous awards, including the Genie Award for Best Picture. The film is considered a masterpiece of Canadian cinema and a landmark in the career of director Denys Arcand.

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E1 ENTERTAINMENT Jesus of Montreal
  • When attendance at a church's annual Passion Play flags, a troupe of young actors is hired to stage...
  • Lothaire Bluteau, Catherine Wilkening, Johanne-Marie Tremblay (Actors)
  • Denys Arcand (Director) - Denys Arcand (Writer)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

13. Last Night (1998)

“Last Night” is a Canadian drama film written and directed by Don McKellar, and released in 1998. The movie follows several characters on the last night of the world, as they come to terms with their impending mortality and reflect on their lives.

The film is known for its unique premise and powerful emotional impact, as it explores universal themes of love, loss, and the meaning of life. It features a talented ensemble cast, including Sandra Oh, David Cronenberg, and McKellar himself, who deliver memorable performances that add depth and complexity to the characters they portray.

“Last Night” was widely praised by critics and audiences alike, and won several awards at international film festivals. It is considered a classic of Canadian cinema, and has been noted for its poignant and thought-provoking themes, as well as its masterful direction and storytelling. The film remains relevant today, as it continues to resonate with viewers who seek to understand the human experience and the fragility of life.

14. Manufactured Landscapes (2006)

“Manufactured Landscapes” is a 2006 Canadian documentary film directed by Jennifer Baichwal. The film explores the work of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and his large-scale photographs of industrial landscapes around the world. The movie follows Burtynsky as he travels to China to capture images of the country’s rapid industrialization and its impact on the environment.

The film is a meditation on the relationship between human beings and nature, and the consequences of uncontrolled industrial growth. It features stunning visuals of the vast landscapes and factories that make up the global industrial complex, as well as interviews with Burtynsky and other experts on environmental issues.

“Manufactured Landscapes” received critical acclaim upon its release, and has since become a seminal work in the field of environmental documentary filmmaking. It has been screened at film festivals around the world, and has won numerous awards for its cinematography and editing.

Manufactured Landscapes (US Edition)
  • Edward Burtynsky (Actor)
  • Jennifer Baichwal (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

15. Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

Monsieur Lazhar” is a Canadian drama film released in 2011, directed by Philippe Falardeau. The film tells the story of Bachir Lazhar, an Algerian immigrant who takes on a teaching job at a Montreal elementary school after the suicide of a beloved teacher. Monsieur Lazhar, who has experienced tragedy in his own life, tries to help the children and staff cope with their loss while facing his own personal struggles.

The film received critical acclaim for its poignant portrayal of grief and its exploration of themes of cultural identity, immigration, and education. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards and won numerous awards at international film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival and the César Awards.

Overall, “Monsieur Lazhar” is a touching and insightful film that highlights the importance of empathy and understanding in times of crisis. The film’s strong performances and emotional resonance make it a must-see for fans of drama and world cinema.

3 Characteristics of Canadian Movies

There are many characteristics of Canadian movies that set them apart from films produced in other countries. Here are three:

Strong sense of place and landscape: Many Canadian films are set in and around the country’s vast natural landscapes, from the rugged wilderness of the Canadian Shield to the rocky coasts of Newfoundland. This strong sense of place often shapes the themes and stories of Canadian films and creates a unique visual aesthetic.

Social commentary: Canadian films often tackle important social and political issues, from the treatment of Indigenous peoples to multiculturalism and immigration. Many Canadian filmmakers use their work to engage with important societal debates and to challenge dominant cultural narratives.

Quirky, offbeat sensibility: Canadian films are often known for their quirky, unconventional storytelling and offbeat sense of humor. Many Canadian filmmakers embrace their outsider status and use their work to explore the fringes of society and the human experience in unique and unexpected ways.

3 Reasons To Watch Canadian Movies

nique perspectives: Canadian films often provide a unique perspective on various subjects, including social issues, culture, and history. They are often infused with Canadian values and sensibilities, making them an interesting and enriching viewing experience.

Diverse voices: Canadian cinema reflects the country’s multicultural population, featuring stories and characters from various backgrounds. This diversity of voices and perspectives adds to the richness of Canadian film and allows for a broader representation of experiences.

World-class filmmaking: Canada has a vibrant and thriving film industry, with many world-class filmmakers and actors producing critically acclaimed works. Canadian cinema has received international recognition and accolades, including multiple Academy Award nominations and wins, making it a must-see for cinephiles.

Best Canadian Movies – Wrap Up

In this discussion of the best Canadian movies, we’ve covered a wide range of genres and styles, from comedy to drama, from documentaries to science fiction. We’ve highlighted some of the most iconic and influential films in Canadian cinema history, as well as some newer releases that are helping to define the current state of Canadian film.

Throughout this exploration, some common themes and characteristics have emerged, including a commitment to social justice and progressive values, a willingness to take risks and experiment with new forms and techniques, and a strong sense of regional and cultural identity.

Overall, Canadian cinema is a vibrant and diverse landscape that reflects the richness and complexity of Canadian society. From the classics of the past to the cutting-edge films of the present, Canadian movies continue to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.