How I love directors who aren’t afraid to go into the unknown, to test the barriers of the human mind, and to take us to the undiscovered. One of the most fascinating directors of a younger generation is the Quebec-born Denis Villeneuve, a visionary responsible for some of the most unforgettable movies in the last twenty years.
From serious dramas, through family tragedies and thrillers to remarkable science fiction blockbusters which won’t leave anyone indifferent, Villeneuve will always give the best. He understands our psychology and the way our brains work and he isn’t afraid to explore them on screen. Maybe we won’t agree on some of our choices, but we can’t deny him the talent and originality. Here are all Denis Villeneuve movies ranked from worst to best.
10. August 32nd on Earth (1998)
This unusual romantic drama is Villeneuve’s directing debut. It is obvious from the very beginning that we are witnessing a work of a brilliant mind whose imagination only started to show. He also wrote the screenplay and chose a cast from his birthplace.
He immediately showed us that he is going to deal with the human mind and portray it so that we can relate and sympathize with his characters. We follow the story of a young model whose life loses meaning after she gets injured in a car accident. She convinces her best friend to impregnate her which he accepts but on the condition they do it at the salt flats in Utah.
9. Maelstrom (2000)
Once again Villeneuve’s directing and screenplay, this drama also deals with the difficulties people find themselves in the importance of other people in their lives. It is a story of a twenty five year old girl Bibi who apparently has it all. But deep inside she is hollow and unhappy.
The story is narrated by a fish awaiting its decapitation from a butcher’s knife. Of course, this all makes sense, as it always does with all the weirdness in his movies. Even though depressing, we can still see some silver lining in Bibi’s life.
8. Enemy (2013)
A mind blowing movie that will keep you guessing during its whole hour and a half. A story about an obsession between two men. Adam is stuck in a routine and it doesn’t take much to trigger his attention when he stumbles upon a video with a man who looks exactly like him. He meets Daniel St. Claire and becomes obsessed with him. But soon the obsession changes its course.
Jake Gyllenhaal is an actor who keeps surprising us with the width of his roles. He can really successfully deliver anything, but he is especially remarkable as a misfit and a weirdo.
7. Politechnique (2009)
One more Villeneuve’s French speaking movie, set in his homeland Canada. An interesting view on the Montreal Massacre was when several female engineering students were murdered by a crazy misogynist. It is brought from three points of view.
The first is the killer’s perspective where he explains what drove him to this act. The second perspective is a woman’s. Valerie is an engineering student who earlier that day had an unpleasant interview. And the third is Valerie’s friend who did everything he could to help the attacked women.
This movie is a strong criticism of the modern world, hypocritical and dangerous, especially towards women. The killer himself stated that he had a problem with the ones he considered feminists.
6. Sicario (2015)
This action packed crime drama set on the American Mexican border gives us an interesting insight into the war against drugs. Something we maybe didn’t expect from Villeneuve but he showed us that he can direct anything he sets his mind to.
The leader of the kidnap response unit for the FBI, Kate Macer accepts a new job as a part of the CIA. She is then sent to the Mexican border with her team where she learns that there is much more to her team members than she was explained.
Emily Blunt did a great job as almost the only woman in this movie filled with testosterones. And Villeneuve gave his mark and filmed it in a bit different manner, more oriented on its psychological aspect.
5. Dune: Part One (2021)
Deciding to film a movie based on one of the greatest Sci-Fi novels of all time is an extremely brave thing to do. The novel by Frank Herbert is a classic with a hoard of followers who already got their screening. And a pretty successful and beloved, too. But Villeneuve gave it his personal touch and we were served a more modern perspective on the story.
We have a gifted hero and a journey he must undertake to make sure his family and people’s future will be safe. It is obvious that there will be malevolent forces included and that our hero will have to go through and surpass various temptations and ventures.
There have been so many opposite opinions on this movie, but we cannot undermine its artistic value and a cast so carefully chosen, with the fantastic Timothee Chalamet as its hero.
4. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Once again a bold, bold move by this extraordinary director. Not many would be brave enough to start where one of the most important Sci-Fi movies ever finished. A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece is a movie worth watching. And although we might think we are going to get something completely different, this is a true sequel, almost as an homage to Scott and his atmosphere and story. Everything functions impeccably.
Former Blade Runner Rick Deckard has been missing for more than thirty years and a young Blade Runner K tracks him down upon the discovery of a long buried secret. Harrison Ford is back and Ryan Gosling proved to be an excellent choice in this powerful and already epic sequel.
Like the majority of Villeneuve’s movies, this one is also very long and it doesn’t leave out anything. But we are still rarely bored and actually appreciate his love for details and perfectionism in everything he puts on the big screen.
3. Arrival (2016)
As we are approaching the final three, it is getting more and more difficult to rank these movies. The third place goes to a slow, detailed Sci-Fi drama about a linguist who needs to communicate with aliens after their twelve spacecraft start to appear around the world. This movie has a fascinating technical aspect to it and is unbelievably realistic in all its fantasy.
Pretty intense and definitely not easy to follow, this movie won’t let us rest until its very end. The story itself is gripping and something new in the world of extraterrestrials. Amy Adams is remarkable as usual, followed by a very good Jeremy Renner and one that never disappoints, Forest Whitaker. Villeneuve showed us once more that we should be looking forward to everything he does and is going to do in the future.
2. Incendies (2010)
When asked about some of the most emotionally packed movies ever, ones that are keeping us on the edge of our seats until the ending, Incendies almost always come to mind. A fascinating family drama and primarily a mystery, this is a movie you will want to watch over and over again.
We follow a twins’ journey who want to fulfill their mother’s last wish. They travel to the Middle East in search of their roots. What they are going to find there is going to change their lives forever. This is a story of love and hate, never ending wars and hatred so deep that makes us sad and mad at the same time.
Villeneuve at his best. He knows what he does best, how to tell a story, doesn’t bother in shortening anything and still succeeds in delivering a movie so powerful that it will be impossible to forget it.
1. Prisoners (2013)
And now something about the movie which you shouldn’t miss for the world. You need to watch it if you love mysteries. You need to see it if you like investigations. You must see it to become aware of what might be going on in your own neighborhood.
It is a movie that will touch everyone’s heart. It will make you extremely mad, but at the same time you might cry your heart out. It is incredibly difficult and at times sickening. It is dark and brutal and sometimes even too hard to follow.
This is a painful story of a father whose daughter and her friend went missing. He decides to take the matter into his own hands, since the police start to lose their leads and the clock is ticking. Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal gave some of their best performances here, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano mustn’t be forgotten as two disturbed individuals who will get under your skin and make you feel really unpleasant.
A true masterpiece, one of the best crime dramas ever made, a movie that has so many layers that it could be discussed for hours.