Top 15 Sweet for Egoyan

While it’s no surprise two of Atom Egoyan’s films placed high on Playback’s list of top Canadian films of the past 15 years, with The Sweet Hereafter taking first place and Exotica fifth, the absence of David Cronenberg films might raise some eyebrows. Canada’s master of macabre proved his own toughest competition, with many votes being divided evenly among Dead Ringers, Crash, eXistenZ and Naked Lunch, with none making the final cut.

The list reflects the results of a poll conducted on Playback’s website that asked participants to submit, in order, their five favorite Canadian movies produced since Playback’s launch in 1986. The Sweet Hereafter was the overwhelming favorite among the 200 industry voters. Egoyan’s 1997 adaptation of Russell Bank’s novel about the impact of a school bus tragedy on a small B.C. town earned the Toronto filmmaker eight Genies and two Oscar nominations. 1994′s Exotica, also a Genie winner, details the subtle connections among hangers-on at a strip club, from an original script by Egoyan.

Hard Core Logo, Toronto director Bruce McDonald’s rock/mockumentary about a touring punk band, finished second, while Highway 61, McDonald’s road movie involving a barber who drives a kooky woman and her brother’s corpse to New Orleans, rounds out the Top 15.

Toronto’s Don McKellar figures prominently on the list. His feature directorial debut, Last Night, about how a cross-section of people spend the last six hours before the end of the world, comes in at number three. McKellar also cowrote and acted in The Red Violin (number four) and Highway 61, and acted in Exotica and waydowntown (number 10).

Last Night was one of three first features on the list. Vincenzo Natali’s Cube, a sci-fi flick about a group of strangers who find themselves in a giant cube drifting through space, finished eighth. The film was produced as part of the Canadian Film Centre Feature Film Project, and became a surprise box-office hit outside of Canada. The Hanging Garden, which traces a man’s return to the family home he left 10 years earlier as a troubled teen, took the number 11 spot. Nova Scotian Thom Fitzgerald’s feature debut made a big splash at the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival, winning the People’s Choice Award.

Despite being home to a growing number of acclaimed directors, such as Lynne Stopkewich, Bruce Sweeney and John Pozer, B.C. filmmakers were noticeably absent from the list, although Mort Ransen, whose Margaret’s Museum holds the 14th spot, has since moved there.

Alberta, on the other hand, placed one film on the list with director Gary Burns’ waydowntown. The low-budget movie, shot on digital Betacam, revolves around a group of jaded young office workers, who, bored with the daily grind, wager to see which of them can last the longest within Calgary’s interconnected downtown buildings.

Runner-up to Ontario, which claims eight productions or copros, is Quebec, with a total of six films, including the list’s oldest entry, 1989′s Jesus of Montreal (number six). The fact that 12 of the 15 films were produced in 1994 or later suggests that Canada has done a good job in recent years of developing quality directors, or that voters have short memories.

Top 15 Canadian Films 1986-2001
Rank Title Director Province Year
1. The Sweet Hereafter Atom Egoyan ON 1997
2. Hard Core Logo Bruce McDonald ON 1996
3. Last Night Don McKellar ON 1998
4. The Red Violin Francois Girard ON/QC/Italy 1998
5. Exotica Atom Egoyan ON 1994
6. Jesus of Montreal Denys Arcand QC 1989
7. New Waterford Girl Allan Moyle ON/NS 1999
8. Cube Vincenzo Natali ON 1997
9. Maelstrom Denis Villeneuve QC 2000
10. waydowntown Gary Burns AB 2000
11. The Hanging Garden Thom Fitzgerald NS/UK 1997
12.* Leolo Jean-Claude Lauzon QC/France 1992
12.* Le Confessional Robert Lepage QC/UK/France 1995
14. Margaret’s Museum Mort Ransen NS/QC/UK 1995
15. Highway 61 Bruce McDonald ON 1991
*tied
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WIFT-T Crystal Awards 2014

WIFT-T Crystal Awards 2014 - Heather Steele, Communications Director, Ubisoft Toronto, presents Shasha Nakhai with the inaugural Ubisoft Toronto Producer Mentorship plaque at the 2014 WIFT-T Crystal Awards. Credit: Yani Macute