The Power List: Arts and Culture

Their films, albums and TikToks are putting Canada on the entertainment map

Photo illustrations by Anna Minzhulina

April 1, 2024

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1. Tate McRae | Musician

After conquering TikTok, this 21-year-old pop phenomenon is ready to win over the world
In September of 2023, Tate McRae’s single “greedy” started a sprint up the charts, hitting No. 1 around the same time as she performed on Saturday Night Live and landed on the cover of Billboard magazine. Who was this suddenly unavoidable presence whipping her hair, with more TikTok followers than Beyoncé? In response to her sudden ubiquity, a particularly aggressive army of web trolls cried “industry plant”—a term that has been used to dismiss a certain type of well-packaged, label-backed talent since the boy-band era. The new main pop girl (an actual term) seemed to have come out of nowhere. 

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Araya Doheny/Getty Images

2. Celine Song | Filmmaker

For adding some “com” to her “rom”-heavy past
While weaving together Past Lives, her breakout 2023 time-travelling love story, director Celine Song relied on herself as source material, heavily mining her own teenage immigration story from Seoul to Markham, Ontario, to create A24’s Sundance- and awards-baiting hit. The film earned two Oscar nominations—one for Best Picture and one for Song’s original screenplay—and cemented her place in the indie firmament. For her next project, she has once again received A24’s backing—this time, scripting in a few more laughs (and some A-listers). The Materialists, a rom-com that’s attracted interest from Dakota Johnson and Pedro Pascal, could start shooting as early as this spring. The main character is a matchmaker who falls for a monied man but still holds a torch for a certain (broke) actor-waiter from her youth. Autobiography again? Perhaps.

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3. Ryan Gosling | Actor

Hollywood’s top leading man is keeping the Kenergy going in 2024
If you thought that Ryan Gosling would simply fade away like his Ken-approved bleach job after last year’s Barbie blitz—and his delightful Oscars dance number—you’re mistaken. This month, he’s (already) back in The Fall Guy, a high-octane comedy that centres on a washed-up, ’80s-TV stuntman named Cole Seavers. And that isn’t the only action Gosling’s got pencilled in for 2024: after many years languishing on the production back burner, filming will kick off on Project Hail Mary, the film adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel about a middle school science teacher who wakes up from a coma aboard a space station—so very far from “beach”—and has to save Earth from impending disaster. A Barbie-Ken reunion is also in the works, in the form of an Ocean’s Eleven prequel co-starring Margot Robbie.

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4. Denis Villeneuve | Filmmaker

For bringing a big-time boost to a flagging box office
Denis Villeneuve, the critically beloved Québécois auteur responsible for Arrival, Prisoners and Incendies, attracted his share of naysayers when he signed on to direct Dune in 2017. Villeneuve quickly silenced the skeptics with a banger US$402-million theatrical box-office take—despite its same-day streaming debut—and rave reviews. With the release of Dune: Part Two this March, Villeneuve’s made it a double: theatre attendance has been nearly halved since the pandemic, but the Dune sequel has brought audiences back. It was the first domestic film of 2024 to cross the $100-million mark, and it’s earned even more accolades than its predecessor, including one from Christopher Nolan, who put Villeneuve’s epic on par with The Empire Strikes Back.

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5. Shawn Levy | Filmmaker

The Stranger Things director—and Ryan Reynolds’s bestie—has a 20-movie to-do list
Aside from his daily gym dates with best bro Ryan Reynolds, Montreal-born director Shawn Levy must only have “make movies” in his Google Calendar. At the moment, Levy’s production company, 21 Laps Entertainment, has upward of 20 projects at various stages of completion—including a rumoured Star Wars instalment and 10 vehicles for Netflix. After a cumbersome hiatus initiated by last fall’s SAG-AFTRA strike, Levy finally teased his latest high-wattage project during this year’s Super Bowl: not his game-day friendship with Taylor Swift, but Deadpool & Wolverine, an R-rated mashup with members of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Out this summer, it’s sure to be another box-office behemoth—which is something of a Levy specialty.

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6. Joni Mitchell | Musician

For ushering in her own golden age
Fans of Blue and “Big Yellow Taxi” (and Love Actually) might bristle at those who say Joni Mitchell’s in her prime, but there’s no denying the singer-songwriter is experiencing a dazzling, if unexpected, late-career revival. After a 2015 brain aneurysm left her unable to speak, Mitchell more than recovered, delivering a now-legendary set at 2022’s Newport Folk Festival (and a live album), plus a luminous performance of “Both Sides Now” at this year’s Grammys. For the latter, she reunited with country star Brandi Carlile, who had come over to play music with Mitchell while she recovered from brain surgery; they called the sessions “Joni Jams.” The flowers won’t stop coming for the new octogenarian: a new Mitchell biography is due out this June, and a rumoured biopic is in the works, courtesy of Cameron Crowe, director of Almost Famous.

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7. Catherine Tait | President and CEO of CBC

She’s facing down the public broadcaster’s financial woes
During a heated parliamentary hearing back in January, CBC/Radio-Canada’s president and CEO, Catherine Tait, faced questions about the broadcaster’s refusal to rule out performance pay for its executive management squad (including her own). The move gave Canadians—including many MPs in attendance—the ick, especially in light of the CBC’s recent, deep staffing cuts that cost 800 people their jobs. Tait floated another solution to the broadcaster’s budget shortfall: a reworked, charter-based financial model in line with that of the BBC, which has a six-year funding agreement with the U.K. government that isn’t subject to government turnover. It’s a smart suggestion—especially considering that Poilievre’s Conservatives have already threatened to defund the CBC if they take office.

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8. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann | Showrunners, The Last of Us

For turning Alberta into TV’s newest cash cow
It wasn’t surprising that The Last of Us, a video-game-turned-streaming-sensation about a post-pandemic wasteland filled with zombified humans, would hit close to home in 2023. What was surprising was just how lucrative it would be for Canada. With an estimated budget of $141 million, and all of its 180 shoot locations congregating in Alberta—Canmore, Lethbridge and a roughed-up Calgary core—Mazin and Druckmann’s hit show dumped more than $182 million into Alberta’s GDP, creating almost 1,500 full-time jobs and prompting the province to divert $100 million into its film and TV tax credit. Here’s more good news: season two shoots throughout 2024 and, this time, the zombies are heading even further west—to Vancouver.

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9. AP Dhillon | Musician

He’s headlining Canadian music’s “Punjabi wave”
South Asian rapper AP Dhillon is used to big stages. In 2022, seven years after he left Gurdaspur, India, with two suitcases to build a music career in Canada, Dhillon sold out his first headlining show in his new home country, held at Vancouver’s 19,000-seat Rogers Arena. In short order, Dhillon, now 31, has—along with Weeknd acolyte Nav—grown into the Canadian face of music’s swelling “Punjabi wave.” He’s a record label co-founder (Run-up Records); the subject of his very own bingeable Amazon Prime docuseries (AP Dhillon: First of a Kind); and the proud owner of three million Instagram followers and 10 million monthly global Spotify streams. (Dhillon’s single “Excuses” was Spotify India’s top tune in 2022.) This spring, a year after Dhillon became the Junos’ first Punjabi performer, he’ll take over mainstream music’s main stage: Coachella.

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10. Devery Jacobs | Actor

For delivering some much-needed queer cheer
Long before Mohawk actor Devery Jacobs stepped into her now-signature roles—as the sharp-tongued Elora Danan on FX’s critically lauded TV show Reservation Dogs and as the tough-talking Bonnie on Echo, Disney Plus’s new, Indigenous-led Marvel series—she was a championship-winning gymnast in Quebec. This spring, Jacobs will display that natural athleticism in Backspot, a dramatic and gritty ode to competitive cheerleading—Bring It On, this is not—complete with a healthy helping of queer romance and a turn from Evan Rachel Wood as the menacing Coach Eileen. The film, which spawned plenty of buzz at last year’s TIFF festivities, is executive-produced by Elliot Page, whose Page Boy Productions partnered with Night Y (Jacobs’s own banner) on the feature.

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This story appears in the May issue of Maclean’s. You can buy the issue here or subscribe to the magazine here.

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