All 9 Denis Villeneuve Movies, Ranked From Average to Best

Apart from the fact that Denis Villeneuve is a great filmmaker, I respect and adore his commitment to vociferously condemn wars and violence. Moreover, it is very impressive to see how most of his films have strong women as central characters (‘Arrival’, ‘Sicario’, ‘Incendies’, ‘Maelstrom’ and so on). After demonstrating his expertise and leaving his signature in the thriller (all kinds of thrillers) genre, he ventured into the sci-fi genre through his extraordinary work in ‘Arrival’ and to the excitement of all movies-lovers, his next project ‘Bladerunner 2049’ is set to release later this year. While we are eagerly waiting for it, here is the list of top Denis Villeneuve movies, ranked from average to best.

 

9. August 32nd on Earth (1998)

This is the first feature film of Denis Villeneuve . After surviving a car-crash and thereby finding a new-found appreciation for life, a woman decides to make some changes in her life: career-wise and love-life wise. Her best friend is forced to join her new impulsive journey. It is a quite simple story. Although the characters lack depth, the relationship between the two close friends is entertaining to watch. Apart from the charming and funny characters, the scenes in the vast salt expanse of Utah is a visual delight. While it is nothing compared to Villeneuve’s other works, this one serves as a light-hearted film in which he deals with relationships, friendship and love. And, of course, just as the title of the movie, it has a lot typical surreal aspects of a Villeneuve movie that will make you think.

 

8. Maelstrom (2000)

How would you like it if a bloody dying fish narrated a love story to you? Yes, literally, a fish! Well, that’s what Maelstrom is! The narration and story-telling alone is a good enough reason for anyone to watch this movie. The emotional turnmoils of the average urban life is bizarrely depicted in this not-so-romantic love story. That being said, the chemistry between the characters and romance is surprisingly sensual considering the general eeriness of the movie. The deliberate incoherence of the story-line and how the plot goes way too tangential at times, make this film oddly funny.

 

7. Incendies (2010)

‘Incendies’ is about war. Period. This is one of the most relevant movies that Villeneuve made. It is about war left, right and center. This numbingly violent rendering of war is done through a suspenseful story of two siblings who revisit their mother’s past. During their journey, we see war in all its glory: death, terror, religious extremism, rapes, war crimes, prisons, students, refugees, civilians and all of it. The writer refuses to label it as any real country while it strongly alludes to the scenario in the Middle East. While slowly documenting the war through years, it builds up the background for the plot. Unfortunately, ‘Incendies’ will always be remembered only for the twist at the end but not for the genuine picture of war that it paints. The Se7en-ish climax will blow your mind and makes you sick. While I totally appreciate the shock value of it, I personally feel that it is a little devious and gimmicky considering the seriousness of the subject matter.

 

6. Polytechnique (2009)

The horrendous, ugly face of hate and violence is beautifully portrayed in this 2009 black and white film based on true events that happened at Ecole Polytechnique in 1989. Historically known as the Montreal massacre, it was one of the worst instances of violence against women in recent history. The attacker justified it as an act of fight against feminism. I realized how extremely relevant the subject matter is considering how feminism is one of the most misconstrued words ever. While vehemently condemning violence, Villeneuve doesn’t tend to get emotional and portray the attacker as a monster. He explores the character as much as he can. In one of most memorable scenes in the movie, when the attacker enters a classroom with a gun, the lecturer in the classroom is talking about entropy and goes: “ Any isolated system, left on its own, is inevitably destined to irreversible degradation, to the point of self-destruction”.

I absolutely admire how shrewdly the writer managed to describe the psychology of the character in that seemingly trivial line. The cinematography and the use of black and white make the film simply gorgeous, especially due to the snowy Montreal backdrop. There aren’t many dialogues in the movie. Yet, it speaks volumes. In one of the scenes, they show Picasso’s Guernica, which is one of the most powerful and moving anti-war paintings ever in history. It is know for its grey, black and white shades. ‘Polytechnique’ is Villeneuve’s own Guernica. It’s gorgeous. It’s silent yet its screams against violence are deafeningly loud.

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