Canadian Screen Awards·CSAS

Are these the best Canadian films of all time?

Unlike other (certainly worthy) lists like this recent one from TIFF, The 10 and 3 compiled its list not from critics and academics (as TIFF did) but from a formula derived from the folks who rated the films on online film database IMDb.

A data journalism site ran the numbers and came up with this top 50

Clockwise from top left: "Room," "Mommy," "Incendies"

Canadian films have often struggled to find a worthy spotlight, even in their own country. But with the Canadian Screen Awards just around the corner, it's an appropriate moment for us to all do our parts to try and change that. And perhaps a good start is this list of 50 Canadian films that data journalism website The 10 and 3 — which aims to "tell compelling and unusual stories about Canada through maps, interactive charts and other interesting visualizations" — decided to put together last month. 

Unlike other (and certainly worthy) lists like this recent one from TIFF, The 10 and 3 compiled its list not from critics and academics but from a formula derived from the folks who rated the films on online film database IMDb. They came with an "adjusted rating," based on this confusing but seemingly legit equation:

(v/(v+m))R+(m/(v+m))C, where:
R = average IMDB rating for the film
v = the number of IMDB ratings that the film received
m = parameter that effectively downweights films with very few ratings (in our case m = 1000)
C = average rating across all films in our ranking

We get that that looks like a bunch of complicated nonsense, but basically it's just a way to make sure that highly rated but little-seen films don't get an inflated rating. Explains The 10 and 3: "This is why, for instance, a film like Les Ordres with an IMDB rating of 8.3 does not appear higher. It has fewer than 800 ratings on IMDB, while a film like Eastern Promises – which ranks ahead but only has an IMDB rating of 7.7 – has over 180K votes. We are much more confident in the rating of the latter than of the former."

This formula was placed upon every feature length film nominated for a Genie Award (which were Canada's primary film awards from 1949 to 2013) or Canadian Screen Award (which took over after that), and this was the list they came up with:

So are these the 50 best Canadian films of all time? According to someone, perhaps. But it looks far from definitive, and there are many questionable inclusions, omissions and ranking issues. The still-in-theatres Room topping the list doesn't exactly seem right, nor does the low rankings of Mon Oncle Antoine (23rd) and Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (35th), given they were the top two picks on TIFF's list and are widely considered two of Canada's top classics. We would also add Atom Egoyan's ExoticaDenys Arcand's The Decline of the American Empire and —most crucially —David Cronenberg's VideodromeDead Ringers and Scanners. 

That said, if you disregard the rankings and maybe make a few of our suggested additions, it's definitely a list largely made up of films that all Canadians should see (and that the vast majority probably have not). So maybe you should make your own list — and we're also curious what you think of this one. What's worthy, and what's missing?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!


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