When it comes to entertainment, Canada often gets a bad reputation. I’m pretty sure at least 87% of that is due to Nickelback, but I digress. Despite being right on top of the US, Canadian movies and TV shows always have that distinctly…Canuck vibe to them. It’s something I don’t know how to describe but you know it when you see it. Sometimes late at night I’ll catch little comedy sketches or short films between TV shows, and within about two minutes you’re thinking “this has to be made here…”. Of course, at the end the National Film Board or Telefilm logo shows up and you’re patting yourself on the back for guessing right.
Still, I think it’s something to be proud of that we produce this quirky, unique kind of media. I love seeing something that is ours, that isn’t made to target the US market. (Not that we don’t emulate their media frequently…I’m looking at you, Real Housewives of Vancouver.) It’s special and reflects us as a country, and I love it. Here are my top five “Canadian” movies.
5. Men With Brooms (2002)
Firstly, Paul Gross is a national treasure. We love him so much we let him narrate “Hockey: A People’s History”, which is probably the highest honour you can get in Canada. He writes, directs, produces, and stars in non-embarrassing Can-Con, and we love him for it. (NOTE: We all forgive him for Hobo With a Shotgun. Mostly.)
This movie is your typical underdog sports movie, but with the cute Canadian twist that it’s about curling. How quaint. It’s a sweet movie, and it has Leslie Nielsen in it, and Paul Gross is from the city I live in, and according to IMDB it was released in Turkey on my 15th birthday. If that’s not a reason to see it, I don’t know what is.
4. The Changeling (1980)
My best friend and I rented this movie on VHS in 7th grade, thinking we were way too cool to be scared of anything. We were wrong. This movie, at least to an 11 year old, is scary as hell. It’s got that creepy vibe throughout the whole thing, and pretty much left me scarred for life. Allegedly it is based on a true story, but even if it wasn’t, it’s a good old fashioned ghost story.
3. Pontypool (2008)
This totally qualifies, to me, as bizarre Canadian film. It has Stephen McHattie (my beloved Hollis Mason from Watchmen) as a grizzly radio host, who winds up fighting off some semi-zombies with his producer in the middle of a tiny Ontario town. I had no idea what is what about when I turned it on, but it’s quite smart and entertaining and legitimately scary. At the very least, you get to enjoy the smooth audible chocolate that is Stephen McHattie’s radio voice.
2. The Rocket (2005)
I had such a hard time choosing deciding whether to place this first or second. Ultimately it is still a movie about a Hab, so my Canuck/Leaf loving self can’t praise it TOO highly. But seriously, this is one of the very few sports movies I enjoy. It is not at all fluffy, but it doesn’t try too hard to be serious – it just is. It’s a really well made look at one of Canada’s greatest hockey players, and from my Anglo perspective it seems to portray Quebecois/Anglo-Canadian relations at the time pretty well. Even as a Canadiens hater, I still cry literally every time I watch this movie. Of course, as a movie about a French-Canadian, it got almost zero release out west. I was lucky to see it through a school writing assignment, but I believe it only played briefly in one theatre at the time.
If you are a hockey fan at all, I strongly suggest watching this movie.Roy DuPuis is amazing, it has the aforementioned Stephen McHattie, plus a slew of NHLers including Mike Ricci, Sean Avery, and Vinny LeCavalier. All around it is just so, so good.
With everything from the Stanley Cup to Banff and my favourite place in the world (Tofino), this movie was made for Canadians to gush over our own amazingness and for outsiders to maybe get a glimpse into why we love it so much. Wanna-be Canadians should add this to their to-watch list.This movie is so beautifully Canadian. The plot is good, but it’s secondary to the beautiful scenery and the unmistakable sense of patriotism that colours the whole film. Everything from the music to the jokes to the cinematography just scream Canada. Joshua Jackson (or as my generation knows him, Pacey) is excellent as the sympathetic but slightly grating main character, who embarks on a cross-Canada journey when he learns he has cancer. This isn’t the kind of plot I’d normally be interested in, but even my icy heart melted a little as he met new people and learned to appreciate his life.
If you have a favourite Canadian film, or thoughts on my list, I’d love to hear!