A formerly successful novelist tries to reconnect with his ex-wife and young son in this affectionate, shrewdly observed drama of family life from Japan’s unassuming master, Kore-eda Hirokazu (Our Little Sister).
Umi yori mo mada fukaku
A celebratory showcase of some of the year’s brightest and best animated shorts. If you’re looking to sample the animation ecosystem in all of its multi-coloured, variously shaped glories, there’s no better place to begin.
A wry character study of a bored young Spaniard galvanised into action by the bureaucratic conundrums that confront him when he tries to have his baptism annulled from the records of the Catholic Church.
À peine j’ouvre les yeux
Tradition butts up against progress in Leyla Bouzid’s debut, a musically charged French-Tunisian film that follows a young woman in a band as she navigates familial and cultural strictures on the eve of the Jasmine Revolution.
Quand on a 17 ans
An attentive mother (Sandrine Kiberlain) intervenes unwittingly in her son’s passionate feud with another boy in this intimate, engrossing and original coming-of-age drama set in the spectacular Pyrenees.
Renaissance man Viggo Mortensen steals the show as a solo father whose idealistic way of raising his six children off the grid comes under attack in this energetic, comedic drama.
Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart are beautifully attuned to Meek’s Cutoff director Kelly Reichardt’s intimately observed, interwoven tales of three independent women in contemporary small town Montana.
Delivered with muscularity and verve, Pablo Trapero’s 80s true crime drama unravels the exploits of a well-connected Buenos Aires businessman and his rugby-star son and their ruthless kidnapping and ransom operation.
Médecin de campagne
French box-office star François Cluzet (The Intouchables) is a doctor reluctantly introducing a younger female trainee to his country practice in this touching and funny drama from doctor-turned-director Thomas Lilti.
French singer Soko and Lily-Rose Depp star in this exquisitely dressed, spectacularly danced drama inspired by the true story of two rival pioneers of modern dance in late 19th-century Paris.
The most lauded Australian drama of the last year, this bold, superbly acted debut from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone reimagines Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in a contemporary small town.
Poesía sin fin
A glorious feast for the senses, the latest film from Chilean octogenarian and life-long maverick Alejandro Jodorowsky revisits his coming of age as an aspiring young poet in the bohemian Santiago of the 40s and 50s.
Written, produced and directed by women and with women in all the key roles, this smart and entertaining film about an ambitious investment banker (Anna Gunn) puts a feminist twist on the Wall Street thriller.
Richard Linklater follows Boyhood by recalling his own first days at college in this hilarious, deeply relaxed comedy about male bonding, set in the bars, discos, parties and frat houses of 1980 Austin.
The modern well-to-do Czech family is skewered in director Olmo Omerzu’s mordant drama of free-wheeling parents, unfettered teenagers, and their faithful, long-suffering border collie.
Winner of the 2016 César for Best Film, Fatima is a beautifully nuanced portrait of an immigrant single mother giving everything to better the lives of her two very different teenage daughters.
Les premiers, les derniers
Two bounty hunters searching the flatlands of Western Europe for a stolen cellphone cross paths with two lovers on the run from the end of the world in this deadpan delight from Belgian actor/director Bouli Lanners.
The director of Russian Ark turns his attention to the Louvre in this hauntingly illustrated tribute to the great art museum and its preservation of cultural heritage through the rise and fall of empires.
Rich with clips and lively interviews, this doco traces the running movement over the past 50 years – the struggle for the right to run, especially for women, then the explosion of grassroots road races and marathons.
Se Dio vuole
This Italian box-office hit won Best New Director for Edoardo Falcone at the Italian Oscars and tells the comic tale of an atheist surgeon, a charismatic priest, and the dysfunctional family caught in the middle.
Cannes winner Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) directs a tense, involving moral thriller centred on an overbearing father keen to get his daughter out of Romania and into a British university at any price.
Punk rockers and skinheads clash in this intense, darkly humorous game of cat-and-mouse, from the director of bracing indie thriller Blue Ruin.
Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.
In Ben Wheatley's ambitious, wildly disorienting adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, tenants of a high-tech skyscraper slip into a literal class war. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss.
A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.
Adapted from Philip Roth’s autobiographical novel of the same name, Indignation is an incisive, affecting drama of embattled individuality on a 50s American campus. With Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.
Based on a true story from post-World War II Poland, this satisfying drama follows a young female French doctor who finds herself caught up in the lives of nuns, traumatised and shamed by their wartime suffering.
Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother) returns to his roots with another satisfying female-centric emotional drama, cutting between past and present to explore the loves and regrets of his anxious heroine.
In this tense, moving war drama, based on fact, a Danish sergeant takes charge of a group of youthful German POWs put to work defusing explosives on the coast of Denmark in the immediate aftermath of World War II.
Spectacular cinematography captures the world of bands of children who rove war-torn Afghanistan, scavenging, stealing, trading and surviving with gusto, in a film that artfully combines documentary and re-enactment.
La pazza gioia
“This high-energy romp is a superb showcase for its two lead actresses as they impetuously extend a group outing from the residential clinic into a two-character outlaw adventure.” — Lisa Nesselson, Screendaily
Two New York boys fight to keep their parents’ personal business from sabotaging their connection in Ira Sachs’ tender tale set against the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighbourhood.
Tout en haut du monde
Long Way North is a beautifully animated historical fantasy about a 19th-century Russian girl who embarks on a hazardous adventure to the North Pole to find her grandfather’s ship and save her family’s honour.
Sue Brooks (Road to Nhill, Japanese Story) applies her unique blend of comedy and drama as distraught parents (Radha Mitchell and Richard Roxburgh) hit the road in pursuit of runaway teenage daughter Grace (Odessa Young).
Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher star in this dazzling, genre-defying sci-fi/chase movie from the director of Mud and Take Shelter.
The most erotically charged film of the year offers a wild, sensual look at life behind the scenes on a backcountry Brazilian rodeo circuit where the reality of human desire sidesteps gender stereotypes every time.
Not your conventional biopic, this enthralling dramatic exploration of the legacy of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda conjures up a fiction in which he is pursued into political exile by an incompetent detective played by Gael García Bernal.
Everyone knows the moon-landing was faked for the television cameras, but nobody had quite so much evidence before actor/director Matt Johnson uncovered this astounding behind-the-scenes footage, starring himself.
Direct from Cannes, Jim Jarmusch’s beautifully calibrated ode to art and ordinariness stars Adam Driver as a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry in his downtime and Golshifteh Farahani as his cupcake chef wife.
Crisp photography, boisterous tunes and a stacked deck of affable company make this funny, incisive comedy a memorable entry for the war genre. With Benicio Del Toro and Tim Robbins.
A gathering of old friends accepts the challenge to share all incoming calls and messages. It’s a game you won’t want to emulate at your next dinner party, but dammit, you’ll be thinking about it.
Kristen Stewart reunites with Clouds of Sils Maria director Oliver Assayas to play a young American in Paris, buying haute couture for her celebrity boss, and seeking contact with the spirit of her dead twin brother.
La Tortue rouge
Studio Ghibli’s first international co-production is a ravishing castaway fable that combines beauty, mystery, drama and heartbreak – with not a word spoken. It’s a triumph for animator Michael Dudok de Wit.
From Iranian master Asghar Farhadi: a violent incident rocks the marriage of two Tehran actors in this Cannes award winner for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.
Elite Zexer’s mesmerising debut feature portrays the emotionally layered relationship between a Bedouin mother and her spirited daughter, both bound by village custom while struggling to adapt to a changing world.
This blackly comic drama from the director of The Death of Mr Lazerescu draws us into the complex dynamics of an extended Bucharest family gathered to memorialise their late beloved patriarch.
This bloody, brutal crime saga boasts the epic sprawl of the mob classics it emulates, but with a lurid energy all of its own. With a throbbing score from electronic heavyweights M83.
“Terence Davies’s Sunset Song is a movie with a catch or sob in its singing voice: a beautifully made and deeply felt adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel of rural Scotland.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Australian documentary filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler collaborated with villagers in the Vanuatu highlands who’d never seen a movie to create this luminous tale of forbidden love and continuously evolving tradition.
Set in 1916, this suspenseful, historically freighted Jordanian film concerns a watchful young Bedouin obliged to guide a British officer through the spectacular desert of Wadi Rum. Best Foreign Language Oscar Nominee 2016.
Isabelle Huppert essays a self-possessed woman confronting unexpected changes in her life and work in Mia Hansen-Løve’s heartfelt and perceptive portrait of middle age.
From India’s southern state of Karnataka, this award-winning comic gem made by first-time director Raam Reddy charms with its easygoing naturalism, evocative setting and colourful cast of characters.
Voted in Sight & Sound’s 2012 poll the third greatest film of all time (and topping the list among directors), Ozu Yasujiro’s sublime family drama is as relevant today as it has ever been, in a sparkling new restoration.
Argentine Ricardo Darín and Spaniard Javier Cámara are beautifully paired in the most garlanded Spanish film of the year, a warm and humorous drama of male friendship shaded with imminent mortality.
This politically charged, spine-chilling debut from Iranian Babak Anvari is a tense and atmospheric thriller set in a haunted Tehran apartment during the terrifying final days of the Iran-Iraq War.
“Propulsive action drama meets philosophical rumination in A War, a superlative Danish take on the Middle East-set soldier story – think American Sniper by way of Borgen.” — Kevin Maher, The Times