While Canada has a wide range of physical features, it also has some of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world in cities like Montreal and Vancouver. It’s no surprise that a wide range of groundbreaking films have been influenced by the country’s English- and French-speaking residents’ cultural influences. Some of them will have you scrambling to get the cheapest trip to the North Pole.
1. One Week
In One Week (2008), director Michael McGowan gives Canada’s landscape so much life that it feels like one of the characters. Ben Tyler (Joshua Jackson), a thirtysomething man diagnosed with cancer, embarks on a cross-Canada motorbike ride in this comedy-drama. The Big Nickel in Sudbury and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel are two of many Canadian monuments he visits as he makes his journey from Toronto to Vancouver Island. The destinations range from British Columbia and Alberta to lesser-known locales like Carman, Manitoba, and Minden, Ontario, among others. Throughout a nod to the country’s roots, a Tim Hortons cup tells Tyler, “Go West, young man!” in the film.
2. Les Boys
Les Boys, a 1997 comedy set in Québec, tells the story of a low-level amateur hockey team whose coach is in danger of losing his bar unless they can overcome a Mob squad on the ice. Montreal and Longueuil are well-known Québec cities, but Louis Saia’s film shows how hockey and Québecois male stereotypes endure in Canadian culture. Three sequels followed the original film. As a whole, they’re regarded as one of the most popular film series in Canada.
3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the action comedy directed by Edgar Wright and shot entirely in Toronto, portrays the city’s understated cool. Scott (Michael Cera) is a slacker bass guitarist who tries to win the heart of his dream girl by conquering her seven ex-boyfriends. When it comes to Toronto’s most iconic attractions, such as CN Tower and Toronto Public Library, the film shows its Canadianness by focusing on places that are special to the city’s younger population. These include local favorites like Casa Loma and pizza joint Pizza Pizza.
4. The Sweet Hereafter
Atom Egoyan’s 1997 film, based on a Russell Banks novel, explores the aftermath of a school bus accident that claimed the lives of 14 pupils in a small British Columbia town. The frigid northern landscapes of British Columbia and Ontario were captured on film in a variety of settings. Isolation helps some of the town’s citizens cope with their sadness, while others of the community are determined to achieve their own goals. Three Cannes honors and two Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay make The Sweet Hereafter the Armenian-Canadian director Egoyan’s best-known picture.
William Phillips’ 2010 Western comedy Western Gunless riffs on the stereotype of Canadians as pleasant and polite. If you’re a Wild West criminal like the Montana Kid (Paul Gross), you’ll find that you can’t incite a shootout with anyone in your new small-town setting in the Canadian Rockies despite your best efforts. While Gunless pokes fun at the country as a whole, it also pays tribute to the country’s breathtaking vistas. In British Columbia’s Okanagan Country, the film’s producer was inspired to shoot the film after discovering a desert-like valley surrounded by mountains.
6. The Shipping News
An adulterous husband (Kevin Spacey) and his six-year-old daughter (Judi Dench) are sent to their family’s ancestral Newfoundland house after the death of their unfaithful wife (Judi Dench). The Shipping News, based on Annie Proulx’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, stars Lasse Hallström in a film that celebrates Canada’s east coast. Located on Trinity Bay’s northeast shore, the town of New Bonaventure doubles as the film’s imaginary community of Kil-Claw. An atmospheric blend of Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and French is used to great effect in the filming of scenes in Newfoundland’s rocky cliffs and lonely coves and hills.
7. Bon Cop, Bad Cop
Colm Feore and Patrick Huard star in this buddy comedy-thriller directed by Eric Canuel in which Canuel exploits the cultural prejudices of an anglophone cop (Colm Feore) from Ontario and a francophone cop (Huard) from Quebec. When the body of a murder victim is discovered on the border between their adjacent provinces, they are compelled to work together, they must transcend their differences while also overcoming their preconceptions against one another. Comedians Louis-José Houde and Rick Mercer, as well as actor Sylvain Marcel, who is known for his Familiprix drugstore advertisements, make cameo appearances in the film. The film Bon Cop, Bad Cop was released in both English and French.
8. Brokeback Mountain
However, even though Brokeback Mountain is set in Wyoming, the rocky mountains and dense evergreen forests of the Canadian Rockies and southern Alberta are shown prominently. While Jack Twist’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar’s (Heath Ledger) taboo-breaking love story derives poignancy from its untouched environment, their little paradise. Moose Mountain, Fortress Mountain, and Mount Lougheed of Kananaskis combine to form the title mountain, which was first named in Annie Proulx’s novel. Elbow Falls, Fort Macleod, and Calgary are among the film’s other locations.
9. Goin’ Down the Road
Films like this one prove to the world that English Canadians are capable of making movies that aren’t just documentaries from the NFB. Don Shebib’s realistic drama, starring Paul Bradley and Doug McGrath, tells the story of two unemployed Maritimers who journey from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Toronto in quest of work. However, after losing their minimum-wage employment and turning to criminal activity, their dream of a normal life crumbles. The film’s abundance of road-trip scenery makes it noteworthy as a record of eastern Canada, where it was filmed.
10. Anne of Green Gables
Director Kevin Sullivan’s 1985 miniseries adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s ‘Anne’ novels takes place in the fictional Prince Edward Island town of Avonlea, which is home to a farming and lobster fishing population. As chatty 11-year-old Anne Shirley, Megan Follows takes on the role of the orphanage that accidentally places her with the elderly Cuthbert siblings (Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth). They hadn’t anticipated a girl to step up to assist them on their farm, but Anne quickly proves to be crucial to the family’s daily operations. The series was so popular that it produced three more films in 1987, 2000, and 2008, as well as the Road to Avonlea television series, which ran from 1989 to 1996, totaling 130 hours of television content. Thousands of admirers have flocked to PEI to see the books and movie because of their worldwide appeal.