Best Canadian Movie Directors

Saturday, July 23 by Tom Gordon

The best Canadian movie directors have provided audiences with a lot of laughs through the years, as well as some of the most thought-provoking dramas in recent years, too. Among the best Canadian movie directors are the legendary master Norman Jewison, the prodigy Jason Reitman and David Cronenberg, whose unusual and often frightening films have been disturbing audiences for decades.

  1. Norman Jewison. He may have one of the most eclectic bodies of work of any director in film history. The Toronto native's early films included the bubbly Doris Day romantic comedies "The Thrill of it All" and "Send Me No Flowers," but then he moved on to the vastly underrated and very cool western  "The Cincinnati Kid," with Steve McQueen in 1965. During the next 20 years he directed such classics as "In the Heat of the Night" (the Best Picture Oscar winner from 1967), "Jesus Christ Superstar," "Fiddler on the Roof," the James Caan sci-fi classic "Rollerball," "A Soldier's Story" and "Moonstruck." That Jewison never won a Best Director Oscar is a crime, though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did award him the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his lifetime of outstanding work in 1999.
  2. Paul Haggis. Born in London, Ontario and primarily known as a screenwriter, Haggis has also directed some powerful dramas, most noticeably the Best Picture of 2005 "Crash," an intense drama on race relations in L.A., which he also wrote. Interestingly, the film also won Best Screenplay, but he lost the Director's Oscar to Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountain." His other directorial achievements include the controversial Iraq war movie "In the Valley of Elah," in 2007and the priso break thriller "The Next Three Days," in 2010. His notable screenplays include the script for the Clint Eastwood drama "Million Dollar Baby," and the James Bond films, "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace."
  3. Jason Reitman. The son famed comedy director Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters"), Jason Reitman made his mark as a top-level director in a hurry with a string of well-received films, starting with 2005's "Thank You for Smoking," a satire on the tobacco industry that was also a touching family comedy-drama. He followed that up in 2007 with the teen pregnancy comedy "Juno," for which he received an Oscar nomination, as he did for 2009's "Up in the Air," the story of a corporate downsizing executive who travels around the country telling other executives they're being fired. George Clooney and the rest of the cast perfect for their roles and the younger Reitman, who grew up in Montreal, gets stellar performances out of all of them.
  4. David Cronenberg. Born and raised in Toronto, Cronenberg came into his own with early 80s fright-fests like "Videodrome" and "Scanners." He moved onto bigger budget thrillers, such as Stephen King's "The Dead Zone," and "The Fly." The 1990s saw a wider mix of weirdness from the prolific Cronenberg. He directed 1991's "The Naked Lunch," which mixed William Burroughs life and his writings in a, surprise, weird and creepy movie starring Peter Weller. Cronenberg also directed the film version of the play, "M. Butterfly" in 1993 and the philosophical, yet occasionally gory sci-fi movie "eXistenZ" in 1999. In the 2000s, Cronenberg teamed up with the intense Viggo Mortensen in two outstanding, but graphically violent movies: "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises."
  5. Shawn Levy. Montreal native and busy comedy director Shawn Levy directed Steve Martin in "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "The Pink Panther," and Ben Stiller in the box office hits "Night at the Museum" and its sequel, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." The former TV director also helmed the 2010 romantic comedy hit "Date Night," with Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Levy has displayed a good eye for visual comedy, and has had the good fortune to work with some of the best movie comedians in recent memory.

-James Roland

COMMENTS

  1. July 23, 2011 10:48 am

    Vince

    You forgot James Cameron.