Umi yori mo mada fukaku
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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