The Trotsky

Canada's Top 10 Films of 2009

Getting an early start on the customary best and worst list blitz for the year, the Toronto International Film Festival held a shindig at Revival last night to raise a toast to Canada's top 10 films of 2009.

What can I say... a panel of filmmakers, critics, academics and industry professionals have singled out homegrown stories about a wannabe Russian revolutionary, a goofy superhero, and a large scale role-playing game. So yeah, just your average Canadian narratives.

With a few witty jokes, and very little glitz or fanfare, hosts Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl, One Week) and Ennis Esmer (Young People Fucking, The Listener) rolled out these lists:

Canada's Top Ten Features 2009

Cairo Time (Ruba Nadda)
Carcasses (Denis Côté)
Crackie (Sherry White)
Defendor (Peter Stebbings)
La Donation (The Legacy, Bernard Émond)
J'ai Tué Ma Mère (I Killed My Mother, Xavier Dolan)
Passenger Side (Matthew Bissonnette)
Polytechnique (Denis Villeneuve)
The Trotsky (Jacob Tierney)
The Wild Hunt (Alexandre Franchi)

Canada's Top Ten Shorts 2009

Danse Macabre (Pedro Pires)
Five Hole: Tales Of Hockey Erotica (Cam Christensen)
La Vie Commence (Life Begins, Émile Proulx-Cloutier)
Naissances (Anne Émond)
Out In That Deep Blue Sea (Kazik Radwanski)
Runaway (Cordell Barker)
The Armoire (Jamie Travis)
The Cave (Helen Haig-Brown)
The Spine (Chris Landreth)
Vive La Rose (Bruce Alcock)

It's not a huge surprise to find wonder boy Xavier Dolan's directorial debut here. I Killed My Mother has been racking up awards on the festival circuit since its debut at Cannes. It's also Canada's official entry in the first round of the Academy Award nominations. And a noteworthy absence on the list is Atom Egoyan's Chloe, definitely one of the higher profile Canadian Galas at TIFF this year from one of our big star directors. That bad, eh?

In the shorts realm, the NFB dominates with a mixed bag of animated picks: the fantastic wreck of a train ride that is Runaway, marriage troubles meet slick computer animation in The Spine, and an east coast fisherman's love song is illustrated in Vive La Rose. I'm so delighted to see some of my favourite shorts, like the haunting goth-inspired Danse Macabre and the creepy child-with-a-secret mystery The Armoire, make the cut.

The film selections -- above all else -- are an eclectic bunch, unique, varied, and literally from all over the map (French-language features pretty much dominated last year's set). Although we were lukewarm on a couple of these in our TIFF reviews, I still look forward to seeing the films I've missed out on so far, many of which are still touring festivals and winning awards all over the world.

Canada's Top Ten films will have a run at the TIFF Cinematheque soon, from January 14 to 21, 2010.

Still from The Trotsky.

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