10 The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/UK, 2012)
The only documentary on my list, The Act of Killing is a jaw-dropping film in which former Indonesian hitmen are invited to re-enact their misdemeanours in whatever form they choose. The truth of what happened over 40 years ago slowly begins to dawn on some of them, with remarkable consequences.
9 Capernaum (Lebanon, 2018)
Challenging and remarkable, with an amazing acting performance from 12-year-old Zain Al Rafeea -and of course credit for extracting the performance must also go to director Nadine Labaki. Following undocumented people in almost unbearable circumstances, scenes with Zain and a baby are both a delight and chilling at the same time. It’s not an easy film to watch at all, but the final shot will steal your heart.
8 12 Years A Slave (USA/UK, 2013)
Director Steve McQueen has taken this difficult story and made it work on-screen. The beauty of the photography contrasts with the ugliness of the behaviour, and we are compelled to watch brutal scenes because they matter. It’s not easy to watch, and that’s the point.
7 Parasite (South Korea, 2019)
Side-swipes at Korean society abound, and just when you think you’ve worked everyone out, all hell breaks loose. Song Kang-ho handles his character’s arc to perfection. The less you know about Parasite before watching the better, so for those in the UK where it hasn’t been released yet, then I’m stopping here.
6 The Lobster (France/Greece/Ireland/Netherlands/UK, 2015)
The things we do for love. Or at least, the things some people will do to avoid being alone. The world of Yorgos Lanthimos is just a step beyond what feels normal, yet not so far away that it doesn’t feel strangely relevant. As with much of the work of Lanthimos, it’s possible to feel both amused, repulsed and saddened all in the same moment. Colin Farrell is a revelation.