The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
One of the greatest movies set in Canada, director Atom Egoyan’s Oscar-nominated The Sweet Hereafter follows the aftermath of a horrific school bus crash that kills 14 children during the dead of winter. Mitchell Stephens, a lawyer played expertly by Ian Holm, arrives in Sam Dent, B.C., and tries to persuade the grieving parents to file a class action lawsuit against the town. In typical Egoyan fashion, The Sweet Hereafter unfolds in non-chronological order. The city of Merritt and community of Spences Bridge—both located in British Columbia—were used as stand-ins for the fictional town, and their peaceful landscapes beautifully contrast with the emotional horror taking place on-screen.
David Cronenberg’s Videodrome makes Toronto look downright terrifying. In this unforgettable satire of consumerism, leading stars James Woods and Deborah Harry try to uncover the origins of a “snuff” television show that seemingly depicts real murders. The film is never shy about its Toronto setting either: the city’s old Red Rocket buses can be seen in the background of several scenes, and Woods’ character makes his way through the Financial District, Port Lands and offices of Global TV. One of the film’s most memorable locations, “The Cathode Ray Mission,” was shot in the building that now houses the famous Factory Theatre. Long live The Big Smoke!
One Week (2008)
Consider yourself warned: after watching One Week, you’ll want to see all that the Great White North has to offer. After being diagnosed with cancer, Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson embarks on a motorcycle trip, starting in Toronto and finishing in Tofino, British Columbia. Director Michael McGowan’s love letter to Canada is loaded with all things Canuck: Sudbury’s Big Nickel, Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park, the World’s Biggest Hockey Stick, and even the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie all make appearances. Not Canadian enough for you? Jackson’s character is inspired to take his journey after seeing a cryptic message inscribed in the rim of his Tim Horton’s coffee cup.