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Denis Villeneuve Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

by Kanishq Acharya
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Denis Villeneuve movies ranked

Denis Villeneuve has a really impressive portfolio in his hands that consist of several critically acclaimed movies. He is arguably the most accomplished director of recent cinema, dominating every genre he touches. During these hard times, as we cope with COVID-19, his adaptation of Dune is exactly what we need. While we wait for the director do his magic, we got something to occupy your time. From his Drama stories to his SciFi dreams, we have ranked his best movies (and worst), so you can explore the filmography of the academy award-nominated filmmaker.

Catch the Dune 2020 trailer here:

9. August 32nd Earth (1998)

Denis Villeneuve’s first feature film, August 32nd Earth was the perfect movie to see the rise of an influential new filmmaker. The story follows a photo model Simone, who decides to conceive a child with her best friend Philippe despite having a girlfriend. She then makes a demand to conceive the child in the desert. The sly humor and the imperfections of human mind keep the debut film afloat, but one thing to keep in mind is that during this time Villeneuve was building his voice and signature that would eventually make the likes of Blade runner 2049, Prisoners, and Arrival.

8. Polytechnique (2009)

Villeneuve’s 2009 feature, Polytechnique was a controversial dramatization of the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre. The movie takes an optimistic approach suggesting empathy as the answer to anger. The real-life convict, whose motive was rage against feminism and revenge, inspired the fictional villain of the movie . Tough, Denis Villeneuve makes the shooter a bit emphatic but doesn’t even give him a name and tells the story from the perspective of the survivors.

7. Maelstrom (2000)

Before Guilmeto Del Toro made a romantic movie with fish, it was Denis Villeneuve who made the love story narrated by a talking fish. It’s a bizarre movie, and we are not overstating. It follows a business woman fell in love with a fishmonger whose son she killed in a car accident (after a failed suicide attempt). Though the film’s non linear narrative may help in confusing the viewer, everything untangles in the climax of the movie.

6. Prisoners (2013)

In his entry to Hollywood, Villeneuve entered the crime mystery drama genre, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The story focuses on the abduction of two little girls and the police’s search for the convict. But even after the arrest of the suspect, he walks free due to his mental illness, as he refuses to offer the location of the girls. This frustrates the parents who take the investigation into their own hands, resulting in a series of unfortunate events.

5. Enemy (2013)

This movie is yet another Collaboration between Denis Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal. Enemy is one of those mindf*ck movies, made for the purpose of keeping the audience in a complete state of confusion. Gyllenhaal plays two physically identical residents of the same city. As always Villeneuve manipulates the audience into thinking if the two people are actually identical or are they the same people with different personalities.

4. Sicario (2015)

Many directors make movies with violence, but Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario is a movie talks about violence.  In this movie, we are taken to the US-MEXICO border that casually showcases the most brutal and senseless acts of violence. The story is told through the perspective of Kate Macer (Emily Blunt). Sicario focuses on the thin line between moral ambitions and using violence for the state and feeling of power. Violent imagery and death pit colours are classic “Villeneuve” style.

3. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Blade runner 2049 was the most ambitious movie of 2017, and boy it didn’t disappoint. The whole movie was a cinematic experience, supposed to be felt in theatres. Sadly, not a lot of people appreciated this Denis Villeneuve movie. For, the movie couldn’t perform the way it was expected in terms of numbers. But credit where credit is due, as the movie awarded an Oscar to cinematography legend Roger Deakins. But all things said and done, Blade Runner 2049 still deserves more love from the audience.

2. Arrival (2016)

It was really hard to name the best Villeneuve movie. Arrival would’ve been the best if it weren’t for the #1 Villeneuve movie on the list.  Nevertheless, Arrival is the most Denis Villeneuve movie ever. It arouses some really interesting dilemmas and tangles with the concept of language, time, and space. Starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, Arrival has focused very precisely on the question of extraterrestrial bodies. How we humans would actually handle it if any aliens actually visit our planet is one of things explored in the movie.

1. Incendies (2010)

As mentioned earlier, it was really hard to choose the best Villeneuve movie. Incendies tops this list simply because of its unbelievable ending. The theme of the movie slaps us right in the face with the horrors of war and how an already dismembered family handles the situation. Denis Villeneuve literally held no guns back in this one. It’s so heartbreaking in some moments that it seems that the movie wanted us to feel sorry for each and every character.
If you liked this list then check our list of best Quentin Tarantino movies, or gather some reasons to discover David Fincher’s filmography.


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