Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve OC CQ (French: [dəni vilnœv]; born October 3, 1967) is a French Canadian film director, writer, and producer. He is a four-time recipient of the Canadian Screen Award (formerly Genie Award) for Best Direction, for Maelström in 2001, Polytechnique in 2009, Incendies in 2011 and Enemy in 2014.[1][2] The first three of these films also won the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Award for Best Motion Picture, while the latter was awarded the prize for best Canadian film of the year by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Denis Villeneuve

Villeneuve at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival
Born (1967-10-03) October 3, 1967
Alma materUniversité du Québec à Montréal
Years active1990–present
Spouse(s)Tanya Lapointe
RelativesMartin Villeneuve (brother)

Internationally, he is known for directing several critically acclaimed films, such as the thriller films Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015), as well as the science fiction films Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017).[3][4] For his work on Arrival, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.[5] He was awarded the prize of Filmmaker of the Decade by the Hollywood Critics Association in December 2019.[6]

Early life

Villeneuve was born on October 3, 1967 in Bécancour, Quebec, the son of Nicole Demers and Jean Villeneuve.[7] He was educated at the Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières and later at the Cégep de Trois-Rivières. He studied cinema at the Université du Québec à Montréal.


Villeneuve began his career making short films and won Radio-Canada's youth film competition, La Course Europe-Asie, in 1991.[8]

August 32nd on Earth (1998), Villeneuve's feature film directorial debut, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.[9] Alexis Martin won the Prix Jutra for Best Actor. The film was selected as the Canadian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[10][11]

His second film, Maelström (2000), attracted further attention and screened at festivals worldwide, ultimately winning eight Jutra Awards and the award for Best Canadian Film from the Toronto International Film Festival. He followed that up with the controversial, but critically acclaimed black and white film Polytechnique (2009) about the shootings that occurred at the Montreal university. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and received numerous honours, including nine Genie Awards, becoming Villeneuve's first film to win the Genie (now known as a Canadian Screen Award) for Best Motion Picture.

Villeneuve's fourth film Incendies (2010) garnered critical acclaim when it premiered at the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals in 2010. Incendies was subsequently chosen to represent Canada at the 83rd Academy Awards in the category of Best Foreign Language Film[12] and was eventually nominated for the award, though it did not win.[13] The film went on to win eight awards at the 31st Genie Awards, including Best Motion Picture, Best Direction, Best Actress (Lubna Azabal), Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Overall Sound, and Sound Editing.[14] Incendies was chosen by The New York Times as one of the top 10 best films of that year.[15]

In January 2011, he was selected by Variety as one of the top ten filmmakers to watch.[16] Also in 2011, Villeneuve won the National Arts Centre Award.[17]

Villeneuve followed Incendies with the crime thriller film Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film screened at festivals across the globe, won several awards, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2014.[18]

Following Incendies and Prisoners, Villeneuve won Best Director for his sixth film, the psychological thriller Enemy (2014), at the 2nd Canadian Screen Awards. The film was awarded the $100,000 cash prize for best Canadian film of the year by the Toronto Film Critics Association in 2015.[19]

Later that year, Villeneuve directed the crime thriller film Sicario, scripted by Taylor Sheridan,[20] and starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Daniel Kaluuya, and Josh Brolin.[21] The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, though it did not win.[22] It screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and went on to gross nearly $80 million worldwide.[23]

Villeneuve subsequently directed his eighth film, Arrival (2016), based on the short story Story of Your Life by author Ted Chiang, from an adapted script by Eric Heisserer,[24] with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner starring.[25] Principal photography began on June 7, 2015 in Montreal, and the film was released in 2016.[26] Arrival grossed $203 million worldwide and received critical acclaim, specifically for Adams's performance, Villeneuve's direction, and the film's exploration of communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence. Arrival appeared on numerous critics' best films of the year lists,[27] and was selected by the American Film Institute as one of ten films of the year.[28] It received eight nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, ultimately winning one award for Best Sound Editing. It was also awarded the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 2017.[29][30]

In February 2015, it was announced that Villeneuve would direct Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982).[31] Scott served as the film's executive producer on behalf of Warner Bros.[32][33] It was released on October 6, 2017 to overwhelming critical acclaim despite middling box office returns.[34]

Villeneuve is set to direct the adaptation of Jo Nesbø's crime novel The Son,[35] as well as Dune, a new adaptation of the 1965 novel for Legendary Pictures with Villeneuve, Eric Roth, and Jon Spaihts writing the screenplay.[36][37]

Personal life

Villeneuve is married to Tanya Lapointe, a journalist, and he has three children from a previous relationship.[38] His younger brother, Martin Villeneuve, is also a filmmaker.[39]


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer
1998 August 32nd on Earth Yes Yes No
2000 Maelström Yes Yes No
2009 Polytechnique Yes Yes No
2010 Incendies Yes Yes No
2013 Prisoners Yes No No
Enemy Yes No No
2015 Sicario Yes No No
2016 Arrival Yes No No
2017 Blade Runner 2049 Yes No No
2020 Dune Yes Yes Yes

Short films

Year Title Director Writer
1990 La Course Destination Monde Yes No
1994 REW FFWD[40] Yes Yes
1996 Cosmos ("Le Technétium" segment)[41] Yes Yes
2006 120 Seconds to Get Elected Yes Yes
2008 Next Floor Yes No
2011 Rated R for Nudity Yes Yes
2013 Étude empirique sur l'influence du son sur la persistance rétinienne Yes Yes


Year Title Director Writer Producer
2020 Dune: The Sisterhood[42] Yes (pilot) Yes Yes

Frequent collaborators

ActorMaelström (2000)Polytechnique (2009)Incendies (2010)Prisoners (2013)Enemy (2013)Sicario (2015)Arrival (2016)Blade Runner 2049 (2017)Dune (2020)


Dave Bautista NN2
Josh Brolin NN2
David Dastmalchian NNN3
John Dunn-Hill NN2
Abdelghafour Elaaziz NN2
Maxim Gaudette NN2
Jake Gyllenhaal NN2


Critical, public and commercial reception to Villeneuve's directorial features.

Film Rotten Tomatoes[43] Metacritic[44] BFCA[45] CinemaScore[46] Budget Box office[47][48]
Maelström80%6671/100N/A$3.4 million$0.3 million
Polytechnique86%63N/AN/A$6 million$1.6 million
Incendies93%8087/100N/A$6.8 million$16.1 million
Prisoners82%7485/100B+$46 million$122.2 million
Enemy74%6174/100N/AN/A$4.6 million
Sicario93%8289/100A-$30 million$84.9 million
Arrival94%8188/100B$47 million$203.4 million
Blade Runner 204987%8187/100A-$150 million$259.2 million


Year Film Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
2010 Incendies 1 1
2013 Prisoners 1
2015 Sicario 3 3
2016 Arrival 8 1 9 1 2
2017 Blade Runner 2049 5 2 8 2
Total 18 3 21 3 2 0


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  2. "Villeneuve’s Incendies wins eight Genies, including best picture". The Globe and Mail, March 10, 2011.
  3. Lynch, John (September 28, 2017). "The first reviews of 'Blade Runner 2049' are calling it a 'sci-fi masterpiece'". Business Insider. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  4. "Impeccably cool 'Blade Runner 2049' is a ravishing visual feast: EW review". September 29, 2017. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
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  6. December 13, Montreal Gazette Updated:; 2019 (December 13, 2019). "Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve to be honoured by critics' association | Montreal Gazette". Retrieved December 15, 2019.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
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