Denis Villeneuve

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The Surreal World: how Denis Villeneuve transformed Toronto into a spooky nightmare

In his new film, Enemy, the director shows us our city as we’ve never seen it before

The Surreal World: how Denis Villeneuve transformed Toronto into a spooky nightmare

(Image: Photo-Illustration: Anna Sparrow; Photographs: Buildings by iStock; Gyllenhaal courtesy of Eone Entertainment)

In Denis Villeneuve’s mind-bending new thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a weary professor at the so-called ­University of Greater Toronto. One day, while watching a movie at home, the sad-sack academic spots a face onscreen that looks exactly like his own. After some quick googling, he tracks down his ­doppelgänger, an actor named Anthony Saint Claire who lives in a glassy Mississauga condo tower. The two men slowly become obsessed with each other, assailed by the feeling they’re living the wrong lives. It’s Villeneuve’s weirdest, most exciting movie to date.

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Everybody loves Hugh Jackman at the Prisoners presser

(Image: Jason Merritt/ Getty Images Entertainment/ Getty Images)

Does Hugh Jackman deserve an Oscar for his performance in Denis Villeneuve’s psych thriller Prisoners? Co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Terrence Howard certainly think so. The pair campaigned for their cast mate at the Prisoners press conference Saturday, while Maria Bello joked that she was most upset that she was cast as Jackman’s wife but never got to kiss him. In the face of this battery of compliments, Jackman, who plays a scary-as-shit vigilante dad in the film, downplayed his success. “I kind of hoped to be able to pay my rent as an actor. I thought that was about as far as my goals went,” he said. “When they asked me to host the Oscars I honestly thought they were on drugs.”

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The 50 Buzziest Films of TIFF: We Cut Through the Hype So You Don’t Have To

The 50 buzziest films of TIFF 2013

Single tickets for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival go on sale this Sunday, September 1. The schedule, packed with hundreds of films, can make choosing what to see a rather daunting task. The solution: our guide to the 50 most talked-about movies at the festival this year, in which we scrutinize the advance hype (and the buzz from Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice) to separate the must-sees from the flicks that only a mother could love.

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Jake Gyllenhaal is in Toronto, and here’s where he’s been so far

(Image: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Did you know that Jake Gyllenhaal is in Toronto? He’ll be here to work on Denis Villeneuve’s film An Enemy from May 22 to July 13, but he arrived earlier than his expected call time and has already been spotted across the city. Gyllenhaal was out eating at Hiro Sushi in the St. Lawrence Market area last night, and just the sight of him is sending girls into a frenzy (okay, so far we can count one girl, but still). There’s also a rumour that Gyllenhaal will be staying at Toronto’s Thompson Hotel. We’ll be sure to keep a lookout for him taking his morning run.

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William Shatner to be honoured with Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (no, really)

This May, William Shatner is getting a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award honouring his “lifetime artistic achievement.” The Globe and Mail calls it “the ultimate recognition—from Canadians for Canadians whose accomplishments have inspired and enriched the cultural life of our country.” Shatner, who is turning 80 later this month, joked, “One lives many lifetimes in a lifetime…This is just one lifetime award—I expect to be back to get another in a few years.” Some of the lifetimes to which he is referring include his iconic stint on Star Trek, his youth at the Stratford Festival and now the sitcom $#*! My Dad Says.

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We try to find five top Canadian Oscar moments from Sunday’s Academy Awards snoozefest

Two of the few Canadians: Celine Dion and René Angélil on the red carpet at the 83rd Academy Awards on Sunday evening (Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Well, there you have it. Awards season is over, but the hangover—or, in the case of The Social Network gang, the lingering feelings of resentment—has now set in. The biggest buzz out of Oscar night was the totality of James Franco lameness. As far as hosts go, he may go down as the worst of all time. We would have killed for a little Uma–Oprah humour, and that’s saying something. Did poor Anne Hathaway want to wipe that disinterested smirk off his face with her fist? We’re guessing yes.

For its part, Canada was hardly centre stage this year (we stand by the opinion that Barney’s Version was robbed), although the night of nights did include some northern moments worth mentioning. The five most memorable after the jump.

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TIFF to Tinseltown: a tour of the 14 Oscar-nominated films that screened at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival may not have the glamour of Cannes, the street cred of Berlin or the skiing of Sundance, but it does have one thing going for it: it’s the unofficial kickoff of Oscar season. The filmmakers who come here every September to show and sell—a full five months before the awards ceremony—are well aware that they’re already in the race to the Kodak Theatre. The early jockeying often pays off: 14 of the 36 feature films nominated for Academy Awards this year screened here (the dubious likes of TRON: Legacy and Salt, for the record, did not). Before the big tally on Sunday night, we take a look at the films that embarked on their trip to the golden boy’s antechamber right here in our backyard.

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Genie nominations no big surprise, with Barney’s Version and Incendies in the lead

We’ve already watched the Golden Globes. And Oscar nominations were announced last week. But that doesn’t mean we can forget about Canada’s version of the Academy Awards (albeit with less recognizable statues), the Genies. The nominations were announced today, and this year’s Genie picks seem fairly predictable—the widely acclaimed Barney’s Version roped in eleven nominations, including best picture, direction, adapted screen play and best lead and supporting actor nods.  Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated Incendies netted an even ten.

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Shafted! (Or, our requisite article on how Canada fared in the 2011 Oscar nominations)

Incendies (bottom) got the nod; Ryan Gosling didn't

When the Oscar nominations came out this morning, we scrolled right past the laundry list of best picture nods (that 10-picture system still irks us) to the best actor category. Despite all of our hopes, Ryan Gosling was unlisted. We weren’t the only ones who thought the Academy would tap the Goz for his portrayal of a hard-living husband in Blue Valentine. Early Vegas odds had given the young actor +5,000 odds of taking home the trophy on the big night (not the greatest odds, but at least he had odds). Instead, it’s a showdown between Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco and Colin Firth.

The way we see it, James Franco stole Gosling’s spot. On paper, they’re kind of the same actor—quirky, drawn to challenging roles despite their leading-man looks—and with Eisenberg also under 30 31, it’s possible Oscar was in danger of appearing a bit short in the tooth. In related news, Blue Valentine was overlooked for best picture (presumably to leave room for Toy Story 3), but Gosling’s co-star, Michelle Williams, was nominated. So at least if she wins, we can expect to hear the Ontario boy’s name in her acceptance speech.

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Incendies one step closer to Oscar nod

(Image: Mike Wu)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nine-movie short list for best foreign language film on Wednesday, and Canada’s official pick, Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, has made the cut. This announcement rounds out quite a year for the Québécois filmmaker: Villeneuve’s Polytechnique cleaned up at the 2010 Genie Awards, Incendies was named best Canadian film at TIFF in September and, recently, Hollywood publication Variety named Villeneuve among its 10 filmmakers to watch. Exciting, indeed, but Incendies faces some tough competition for that Oscar.

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Tinseltown authority Variety picks three Canadians for influential list

It seems the Hollywood powers that be are expecting big things from three of our hottest directorial talents. The film industry trade mag Variety recently published its influential “10 Directors to Watch” list, and Canadians Denis Villeneuve, Patrick Lussier and Ed Gass-Donnelly each earned a coveted spot.

Villeneuve has been making headlines for his latest effort, the family drama Incendies, which is Canada’s official pick for Oscar consideration in the foreign film category. Lussier is best known for horror flicks like 2009’s My Bloody Valentine 3D, and has a Nicholas Cage–fronted thriller due out this year called Drive Angry. The lone Torontonian in the bunch is Gass-Donnelly, whose crime story Small Town Murder Songs screened last September at TIFF and gained critical acclaim on the subsequent international festival circuit (it’s also been making the rounds on Air Canada’s in-flight service).

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Burnt Offerings: Canada’s foreign language film pick for this year’s Oscar race

Incendies, Canada’s foreign language film pick for this year’s Oscar race, exposes a family’s secrets and lies and delivers a gut-punching portrayal of war’s lasting traumas

(Photograph courtesy of Eone Films)

A woman in an unnamed Middle Eastern country is pulled from a bus and forced to watch as her fellow passengers are massacred and the vehicle set aflame. The reason she’s spared? She is Christian and they are not. Unable to move, she stays on her knees until there’s nothing left to burn. This desert tableau is a scene in Incendies, the latest offering by Montrealer Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique). The film charts a brother and sister’s quest to uncover the secrets of the woman from the bus—their mother, Nawal—after her death. A string of increasingly horrifying revelations lends her story the scope of a Greek epic, with Nawal serving as a mirror for countless women in wartime. Incendies is based on the play Scorched by Lebanese-Québécois writer Wajdi Mouawad, which was a smash hit for the Tarragon Theatre here in 2007 and 2008. So often, screen versions of theatrical sensations sag under the weight of their lovingly preserved texts, but Villeneuve’s adaptation brandishes a visual vocabulary that’s as strong and distinctive as Mouawad’s words. Working with ace cinematographer André Turpin and a cast that includes Quebec staple Rémy Girard and the extraordinary Belgian actor Lubna Azabal in the lead, Villeneuve has created something bold, lean and eminently cinematic. Elaborate digital wizardry (and its attendant eyewear) may be film’s favourite child these days, but the starkest images still have the most power.

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Some of TIFF’s best films headed to the Oscars

No sooner has TIFF rolled out of town, taking all of its botoxed goodness with it, than awards show season rolls in, binding us to the couch to partake in the glorious judge-fest that is the Oscars. So maybe that’s not until February, but the boys who pick the winners (let’s face it, it’s mostly dudes) have already announced the long list of nominees for best foreign film, and TIFF 2010 favourites abound among the titles in contention.

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Looking back at TIFF 2010: Eight films to watch

As with any film festival, TIFF 2010 had its share of disappointments (Miral, Hereafter) and outright disasters (Passion Play, What’s Wrong With Virginia), but the general consensus is that this was a pretty good year. Critics and audiences found more than a few gems, and an astounding 18 films that arrived here without North American distribution have already found buyers. By our reckoning, however, eight films stood out as the biggest winners of the festival.

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Spy on the stars: midday interview series on Peter Street makes it easy to see celebs

Owen and Franco and Keener, oh my

Contrary to popular belief, stars don’t only come out at night, spottable only as they rush from black SUVs to VIP sections. We’ve figured out a way to see them in broad daylight. Over the course of TIFF, our friends at the film site IndieWire are hosting a series of lunchtime interviews with Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, David Schwimmer and James Franco, to name just a few. The chats will be on the ground floor of the spanking new Filmmaker’s Lounge (134 Peter Street), which has massive windows that overlook the street. Downtowners are welcome to come by and gawk. BlackBerry users can even ask the stars questions by texting them to PIN number 20878C9E.

The whole schedule of which stars will appear on which day, after the jump.

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