Table of Contents
70s-set romance from Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Cooper Hoffman as a former child actor who sets his sights on 10-years-older Alana Haim as he gets into the waterbed business.
What we said: “This hypnotically gorgeous, funny, romantic movie freewheels its way around from scene to scene, from character to character, from setpiece to setpiece, with absolute mastery.” Read the full review.
Jason Isaacs and Ann Dowd are among the cast of a drama about the “healing” meeting between the parents of a high-school shooting victim, and the parents of the perpetrator.
What we said: “A wonderfully acted, if claustrophobic, ordeal of emotional pain.” Read the full review.
Glossily mounted film noir, directed by Guillermo del Toro, with Bradley Cooper as the carny who becomes a high society mind-reader/grifter, and Cate Blanchett as a psychologist who aims to expose him.
What we said: “A spectacular noir melodrama boasting gruesomely enjoyable performances and freaky twists.” Read the full review.
Documentary from American Honey director Andrea Arnold, following without comment the lives of farm cows from birth to slaughter.
What we said: “The most eerie moments come when we look directly into the cow’s eyes, as she is perhaps directly looking into ours – or at any rate, the camera lens – and mooing, repeatedly, intently or even meaningfully.” Read the full review.
Tilda Swinton joins forces with Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul for an English-language, Colombia-set fable about a woman who can hear sounds that others don’t appear to.
What we said: “A beautiful and mysterious movie, slow cinema that decelerates your heartbeat.” Read the full review.
Kenneth Branagh’s memoir of a kid growing up in 1970s Northern Ireland as the Troubles mount, with Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan as the married couple who have to decide whether to emigrate.
What we said: “Spryly written, beautifully acted and shot in a lustrous monochrome, with set pieces, madeleines and epiphanies that feel like a more emollient version of Terence Davies.” Read the full review.
Taming the Garden
Documentary following the bizarre but revealing story of Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s plan to dig up and transport hundreds of trees from across the country to his own private garden.
What we said: “Transporting these trees is a Fitzcarraldo-type operation: a folie de grandeur of staggering proportions.” Read the full review.
Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar collaborate once again to tremendous effect; this time Cruz plays a woman sharing the same maternity ward as a much younger, troubled mother to be (played by Milena Smit).
What we said: “Almodóvar’s new movie has the warmth and the grandiloquent flair of a picture from Hollywood’s golden age, and the whiplash twists and addictive sugar rush bumps of daytime soap.” Read the full review.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Biopic of Tammy Faye Bakker, wife of televangelist Jim Bakker and latter-day supporter of the US’s LGBT community; Jessica Chastain won the best actress Oscar for her makeup-caked performance in the title role.
What we said: “Chastain gives a hilarious turn as Tammy Faye: like Tammy Wynette with a bit of Nancy Reagan and Eva Perón.” Read the full review.
Lingui, the Sacred Bonds
Chadian auteur Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s quiet fable, about a woman torn between social proprieties and respecting her daughter’s decision to get an abortion.
What we said: “The intense, focused performances from the two central women keep this drama in a hyper-alert state: we are intensely aware of all that is at stake and how mother and daughter are battling for survival.” Read the full review.
The Souvenir Part II
Second half of Joanna Hogg’s autobiographical drama, with Honor Swinton Byrne as film student Julie as she abandons her social issue documentary in favour of making her own autobiographical memoir.
What we said: “An amazingly luminous self-portrait of the film-maker as a young woman: metatextual, confessional and autobiographical.” Read the full review.
The fourth feature-film instalment of the dumb stunt TV show that first aired in 2000, with many of the same gang led by Johnny Knoxville, but now augmented by a younger generation.
What we said: “The Jackass crew is back with yet another festival of fantastically pointless and immature bad taste.” Read the full review.
Distinctive fusion of documentary and animation from Danish film-maker Jonas Poher Rasmussen, outlining the journey and heartache of a gay Afghan man living in Copenhagen, having left his home country as a 10-year-old.
What we said: “An irresistibly moving and engrossing story, whose emotional implications we can see being absorbed into the minds of the director and his subject, almost in real time.” Read the full review.
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
Japanese film-maker Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who subsequently made Drive My Car, directs this three-part film, in which different stories are played out with thematic echoes.
What we said: “This trio of stories is elegant and amusing, with a delicacy of touch and real imaginative warmth.” Read the full review.
The Real Charlie Chaplin
Documentary telling the life story of the “Little Tramp” – the silent film comic who achieved global celebrity before turning to sound and hitting even greater heights – before legal troubles took their toll.
What we said: “Chaplin’s amazing story is something that would have electrified Charles Dickens, that other poverty survivor who conquered the US.” Read the full review.
The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert
Sixty-minute feature carved out of Peter Jackson’s mammoth series chronicling the making of the Let It Be album; this repurposes the original footage shot by Michael Lindsay Hogg of the famous Apple building gig, restored at full length.
What we said: “This engrossing film is a time capsule of London itself – the faces not so very different from those you would see in the 40s or 50s.” Read the full review.
Jim Broadbent stars as Kempton Bunton, the Newcastle taxi driver who was tried for one of the 1960s most celebrated crimes: the theft of a Goya painting from the National Gallery.
What we said: “For what has become his final feature film, director Roger Michell made this sweet-natured and genial comedy in the spirit of Ealing, which bobs up like a ping pong ball on a water-fountain.” Read the full review.
Manifesto-cum-profile of Don Letts, the film-maker and DJ who was a key figure in the original punk movement and played a significant role in overcoming the era’s race hostility.
What we said: “Letts is a brilliant entrepreneur, an inter-disciplinary artist and eloquent speaker about what life was like in the punk era.” Read the full review.
Ali & Ava
Gentle romance between a British Asian from Bradford (played by Adeel Akhtar), whose relationship with his wife has broken down, and classroom assistant Claire Rushbrook; their relationship sparks disapproval among their respective families.
What we said: “It’s a drama of autumnal love conquering the divisions of race, the disillusionments of middle age, the discomfort of parenthood and grandparenthood, and the tensions of class.” Read the full review.
Social-comment body horror from debut feature director Ruth Paxton, with Sienna Guillory as the apparently perfect single mother with two daughters, one of whom develops a mysterious eating disorder.
What we said: “Paxton’s movie sketches out the sinister dread just under the happy-family surface; she is in expert control of her film, achieving her effects with economy and force. It is really unnerving.” Read the full review.
Interesting German drama about a former concentration camp inmate imprisoned after the war for gay sex acts, and who develops a complex relationship with his straight cellmate.
What we said: “A formidably intelligent and well-acted prison movie and also a love story – or perhaps a paradoxically platonic bromance.” Read the full review.
Paris, 13th District
The latest film from Rust and Bone director Jacques Audiard, here putting together a short story collection of sexual encounters and relationships in Paris’ 13th arrondissement, shot in tough black-and-white.
What we said: “Audiard achieves something very watchable and entertaining in anthologising [the characters]. This is a connoisseur date movie.” Read the full review.
Kosovan-set memorial-to-loss drama about a war widow who sets up a business selling honey and other local delicacies, but who then clashes with villagers when she starts getting successful.
What we said: “This is a richly intelligent drama, in which every word and every shot counts.” Read the full review.
Epic Indian blockbuster set in the 1920s, following a pair of real-life revolutionaries as they take on the might of the British Raj.
What we said: “Wave after wave of lush, beautifully crafted bombast is gleefully dished out to a bedazzled audience.” Read the full article.
The Worst Person in the World
Thelma director Joachim Trier comes up with an unexpectedly moving drama about a twentysomething woman (played by Renate Reinsve in a star-making performance) as she navigates relationships and jobs at a tricky period in life.
What we said: “Trier has taken on one of the most difficult genres imaginable, the romantic drama, and combined it with another very tricky style – the coming-of-ager – to craft something gloriously sweet and beguiling.” Read the full review.
Apollo 10 1/2
Another exercise in nostalgia from Boyhood director Richard Linklater, here using rotoscope animation to tell the story of a kid growing up in thrall to the Apollo space programme.
What we said: “It’s a nonstop madeleine-fest, a revival of memories curated with passionate connoisseurship.” Read the full review.
Mysterious fable from Italian director Laura Samani, about a woman desperate to revive her stillborn baby who heads off on a quest to find the church that may be able to accomplish it.
What we said: “Samani’s film-making language has consistency and urgency, and there is an interesting streak of atheism that goes alongside this movie’s spiritual aura.” Read the full review.
Compartment No 6
Finnish director Juho Kuosmanen directs this answer to Before Sunrise, about an archaeology student who shares a train compartment with a boorish Russian; the pair connect despite their differences.
What we said: “[There is] a wonderful human warmth and humour in this offbeat story of strangers on a train and of national characteristics starting to melt.” Read the full review.
All the Old Knives
Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton star in a clever and complex spy yarn about a CIA officer ordered to interrogate his former lover over dinner as part of an investigation into a mole.
What we said: “A very watchable and classily upscale espionage drama-thriller in the spirit of John le Carré.” Read the full review.
Prayers for the Stolen
From director Tatiana Huezo, a study of the traumatising life experience of a Mexican woman trying to ensure her daughter escapes the attentions of rapists and narcos who can apparently operate with impunity.
What we said: “A complex, subtle, tender and heart-rending story of a young girl’s upbringing in a village menaced by the drug cartels and people traffickers.” Read the full review.
Brutal Viking saga, based on the same legend as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with Alexander Skarsgård as the chieftain’s son out for vengeance on the man who murdered his father and took his throne.
What we said: “A horribly violent, nihilistic and chaotic story about the endless cycle of violence … It’s entirely outrageous, with some epic visions of the flaring cosmos. I couldn’t look away.” Read the full review.
Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle
Drama based on the bizarre real-life story of Hiroo Onoda, a second world war Japanese soldier who held out in the jungle in the Philippines until 1974.
What we said: “A really well-made, old-fashioned anti-war epic in a forthright and robustly enjoyable style.” Read the full review.
Golden Lion-winning abortion drama, more relevant than ever, from director Audrey Diwan; a study of a woman (played by Anamaria Vartolomei) who becomes pregnant in early 60s, pre-legalisation France.
What we said: “A brutal Handmaid’s Tale from our recent European past – a situation that still exists in many parts of the world, longed for by reactionary nostalgists elsewhere.” Read the full review.
Seven-year-old Maya Vanderbeque is brilliant in this Belgian schoolyard drama, as a girl called Nora who tries to confront classroom bullies in this short, intense film.
What we said: “A kid’s-eye-view nightmare of playground bullying impossible to watch without a sick, jittery feeling of rage and dread.” Read the full review.
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair
Creepy account of a teenager becoming immersed in an online horror role-play game, from trans director Jane Schoenbrun.
What we said: “Strangeness is a quality valued and yearned for in so many sorts of movies, but rarely found – yet this really is strange, an experiment in horror form.” Read the full review.
The Quiet Girl
Irish rural drama set in the early 80s, with Catherine Clinch as the silent child of the title who goes to stay with relatives over the summer.
What we said: “This beautiful and compassionate film from first-time feature director Colm Bairéad is a child’s-eye look at our fallen world; already it feels like a classic.” Read the full review.
Split-screen dementia drama from Argentinian provocateur Gaspar Noé, starring Dario Argento and Françoise Lebrun as an elderly couple whose lives are dogged by the latter’s cognitive decline.
What we said: “Noé brings his cauterisingly fierce gaze to the spectacle of old age: the world of those about to enter the void.” Read the full review.
Creepy-kid horror from Norwegian director Eskil Vogt (co-writer of The Worst Person in the World), about two young sisters who make friends with other children who apparently possess supernatural powers.
What we said: “It greased my palms with anxiety and incidentally has some of the best child acting I have ever seen.” Read the full review.
Terence Davies’ account of the life of Siegfried Sassoon (played by Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi in younger/older versions), tracing his career from lionised war poet to unhappy later life.
What we said: “It is a film which is piercingly and almost unbearably about failure: the catastrophic moral and spiritual failure of war which is aligned to Sassoon’s own terrible sense of personal shortcomings.” Read the full review.