See much more of our review of the year in our Winter 2020-21 double issue
Our biggest-ever issue takes stock of 2020 with our annual polls of the best films and television of the year and surveys of the state of different regions and genres.Find out more and get a copy
50. The Vast of Night
Andrew Patterson, US
A radio operator and a presenter discover a menacing sound on the airwaves in this scintillating retro UFO tale.
We say: “The pandemic may have delayed the release of mega-bucks sci-fi extravaganzas like Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, but Andrew Patterson’s film was an exhilarating discovery for dark lockdown times and further proof, if you ever needed it, that a small budget (less than $1 million) is no barrier to the sublime. The storyline is textbook 1950s B movie, but the film’s innovative sound design and tracking shots, along with the director’s dynamite blend of anxiety and awe, take it far beyond pastiche.” (Isabel Stevens)
49. The Truth
Koreeda Hirokazu, Japan
Koreeda’s naturalistic drama sees Catherine Deneuve play a monstrous movie star and Juliette Binoche the daughter outraged by her euphemistic memoir.
We said: “Koreeda’s French adventure is a substantial success, not least because he’s brought a lot of ideas and motifs from his Japanese films to the party. The Truth consolidates the shift in his recent work to looser and more conceptual plotting, but it also reaches all the way back to After Life (1998) for some wry reflections on summing up life trajectories and the practical uses of artifice.” (Tony Rayns)
Where to see it: On Curzon Home Cinema, Blu-ray and DVD
48. The Invisible Man
Leigh Whannell, US
Elisabeth Moss is tormented by an unseen assailant in a smart, timely update of the horror mainstay.
We said: Whannell’s film gives a feminist spin to H.G. Wells’s classic, emphasising the fear of being watched. The voyeurlike camerawork – lingering on every nook and cranny, insisting on empty spaces – gives the film a distinctive thrill, and the pacing is characterised by slow build-ups over racing emotions. As Covid-prompted lockdowns led to increasing levels of domestic violence, The Invisible Man held a mirror up to the routine horrors scarring many everyday lives. (Chrystel Oloukoi)
Where to see it: On Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and other digital platforms
47. Richard Jewell
Clint Eastwood, US
Paul Walter Hauser portrays the security guard who discovered the Atlanta Olympics bomb only to find himself accused of planting it, in Eastwood’s all-American tale of apostasy.
We said: “Sam Rockwell rediscovers himself as a superlative straight man and is a small miracle. Even more so is the other half of the double-act: Jewell as played by Paul Walter Hauser. Ever the unflinching and somewhat dour realist, Eastwood presents us with an American landscape that has largely been denuded of the picturesque. The film has a feel for life on the lowest rung of the middle class.” (Nick Pinkerton, S&S, February)
Read our review: Richard Jewell explores how an unlikely hero loses his religion
Where to see it: On digital platforms, Blu-ray and DVD
Alexander Nanau, Romania
A thrilling exposé that uncovers a vast trail of corruption following a fatal nightclub fire in Bucharest.
We said: “Nanau refuses to regard the uncovering of wrongdoing as an achievement in itself; he constructs his film from interwoven strands which offer a broader perspective on the administrative toil involved in effecting lasting change, and the crucial contributions of both individual moral choices and wider democratic movements in enabling such a process.” (Trevor Johnston, S&S, December)
Read our review: Collective takes a scalpel to the contagion of corruption
Where to see it: On various digital platforms
Chinonye Chukwu, US
Chukwu’s spare, unsparing prison drama cuts to the heart of the injustice and inhumanity of America’s death penalty.
We said: “Uncomfortable, emotional and resolutely unflinching in its gaze, Chukwu’s film is a clear-eyed exploration of the contentious debate surrounding America’s death penalty and, particularly, the way in which death row disproportionately targets African-American men. Alfre Woodard puts in a phenomenal performance, expressing Bernadine’s churning inner turmoil through her resigned expression, downcast eyes and hunched shoulders.” (Nikki Baughan, S&S, September)
Read our review: In Clemency, death row walls in Alfre Woodard’s warden
Where to see it: available to buy or stream on BFI Player, iTunes, Amazon Prime and other platforms
44. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Jason Woliner, US
Caustic satirist Sacha Baron Cohen triumphs in his mission to restore Kazakhstan’s reputation with a smart evolution of his Borat character.
We said: “If the times are a-changin’, thankfully so is Sacha Baron Cohen’s approach. In fearless, scene-stealing newcomer Maria Bakalova, he has found a worthy ally for his carefully planned chaos. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm offers more proof of Baron Cohen’s admirably serious comic evolution, as well as of Borat’s enduring ability to go viral, with several set pieces to bring the house down.” (Leigh Singer)
43. Birds of Prey
Cathy Yan, US
A hyper-violent entry from the DC Extended Universe, with Margot Robbie’s comic villain leading the blood-soaked jamboree.
We said: “Seeing the women crack skulls and femurs along with the lads has been the main through-line for the female characters of superhero franchises. Margot Robbie reprises her role from 2016’s Suicide Squad as the psychopathic Harley Quinn with a lippy, audacious girlishness and a gnat’s attention span. Birds of Prey is a whole bunch of glittery, satisfying fun – especially the unkempt, cheerful, chaotic energy of its protagonist.” (Christina Newland)
Read our review: In Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn lets her hair down
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes, Amazon Prime and other digital platforms
42. Another Round
Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark
Four drinking buddies test the theory that a steady blood-alcohol level is the key to peak human performance.
We said: “Breezy and boozy, joyful and melancholic, occasionally wild and often wise, Another Round is a heady cocktail swiftly downed, with a late kick like a particularly euphoric mule. A drinking movie that presumes to caution about using alcohol as a crutch while also daring to suggest that sometimes it’s a very useful crutch indeed. It’s about male friendship, midlife crisis and the cruelty of the modern human condition.” (Jessica Kiang)
Read our review: In Another Round, Mads Mikkelsen and pals uncork their spirits
Where to see it: Postponed due to lockdown, rescheduled for 5 February 2021
41. About Endlessness
Roy Andersson, Sweden
The Swedish master of wan deadpan ratchets up his world-historical gaze in a series of sublime microcosmic tableaux.
We said: “About Endlessness continues in the style that Andersson has pursued since his return in 2000. It comprises a string of vignettes, almost all playing out in a single take, viewed by a locked-down camera with a static frame that holds its human subjects in the philosophical distance of a deep-focus long shot. Andersson is nothing if not consistent in the bittersweet pessimism of his worldview, leavened by brief glints of glimpsed joy.” (Nick Pinkerton)
Where to see it: On Curzon Home Cinema
40. The Personal History of David Copperfield
Armando Iannucci, UK
Dev Patel makes for an energetic lead in this inspired and fast-paced adaptation of Charles Dickens’s literary classic.
We said: “With its ostentatiously colour-blind casting, not only of the energetic and enterprising Dev Patel as Charles Dickens’s typically intrepid, buffeted young wayfarer, but in a slew of roles rich and poor peppered throughout, Armando Iannucci’s rollicking adaptation announces itself as a radical reclamation of the heritage ‘lit pic’ from the off.” (Tom Charity)
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray, BFI Player and other digital platforms
39. The Forty-Year-Old Version
Radha Blank, US
A down-on-her-luck New York playwright, desperate for a breakthrough before she turns 40, reinvents herself as rapper RadhaMUSprime.
We said: “This is a highly personal story about being torn between ‘making it’, selling out, and forging a path as an MC. And there’s more than a hint of the metatextual. Shot in black-and-white 35mm, The Forty-Year-Old Version paints a loving portrait of parts of New York City that aren’t represented with such care, if at all, in narrative films of this scale. Blank’s achievement makes a convincing case for a new list category: ‘40 in their 40s’.” (Violet Lucca)
Read our review: In The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank hoists her own star
Christopher Nolan, US
Nolan’s brainteaser builds a rollercoaster spectacle out of temporal spaghetti.
We said: “Nolan has mentioned that he’d rather like to direct a Bond movie, and for much of its two-and-a-half-hours Tenet comes across as a 007 romp that’s been force-fed a course in temporal relativity and advanced nuclear physics. (Nobel Prize-winning physicist Kip Thorne, Nolan’s consultant on Interstellar, shows up again here in the credits.) As the film’s palindromic title hints, a lot of the action runs both forwards and backwards, often simultaneously on screen, making for some impressively virtuosic spectacle.” (Philip Kemp)
Read our review: Tenet: Christopher Nolan throws time for a loop
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and other digital platforms
37. She Dies Tomorrow
Amy Seimetz, US
Fears of impending mortality haunt writer-director Amy Seimetz’s existential horror movie, a bleakly satirical exposé of moral emptiness and foreboding.
We said: “It remains an open question whether the condition the film posits is a collective madness, or something more supernatural… This moral emptiness, presented as a corollary of our innate mortality, is what makes this film so unnerving. It is a horror movie which reduces its central fear to the most fundamental form of existential dread.” (Anton Bitel)
Read our review: She Dies Tomorrow sends Kate Lyn Sheil’s death drive viral
Natalie Erika James, Australia
A dread-filled horror of the human condition, starring Emily Mortimer as one of three generations of women affected by grandmother Edna’s dementia.
We said: “The real bogeyman in Relic, far more terrifying than any genre monster, is the decline and death that are part of the human condition. As Kay and Sam watch it coming, the dark rot gradually staining the house and its occupants serves, no less than the family’s hand-me-down relics, as a macabre memento mori… The result is creepily affective, hitting hard anyone who has witnessed a grandparent or parent slowly vanish.” (Anton Bitel)
Where to see it: On BFI Player and other digital platforms
35. Mogul Mowgli
Bassam Tariq, UK
Tariq’s visceral directorial debut, co-written with Riz Ahmed, follows Zed, a rapper whose life spirals out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.
We said: “Some moments echo the confrontational, direct to camera stares of Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (2016) and If Beale Street Could Talk (2018) it’s focused purely on the dynamics of Zed’s family and friends, the cast mostly populated by British-Pakistani actors. Mogul Mowgli is confident and confrontational, exhilarating in its willingness to constantly shift gears between absurdist comedy and vulnerable, introspective narrative.” (Kambole Campbell)
Read our review: Mogul Mowgli confronts Riz Ahmed’s rapper’s battle of the soul
Where to see it: On BFI Player and coming to Blu-ray and DVD in February 2021
David Fincher, US
Fincher’s portrait of writer Herman J. Mankiewicz.
We said: “Mank enshrines the myth of a town full of idiots. But myth it is. For one thing, Herman’s main credit competitor remains Orson Welles, the furthest thing imaginable from an idiot. Richard Meryman said of Herman: “I wanted to find out how, when he was all but finished as a writer, he could turn around and write Citizen Kane.” Mank’s answer is that Mankiewicz always had the ability to write something that good; it was Hollywood holding him back. Perhaps, but it was also Hollywood that gave him immortality.” (Farran Smith Nehme)
Read our review: Mank nips itself in the Rosebud
Ben Sharrock, UK
This culture-clash chamber piece finds wit as well as heartache in four migrants’ exile to the dampest corner of Europe – Scotland.
We said: “The film reminds us, at a moment when empathy often feels in short supply, that the real boats crossing the North Sea are carrying real people. People with families, hobbies, traditions and songs. It’s a reminder, without ever being piteous, that when we watch television news or social media feeds, we’re only seeing a partial story. Look beyond your limited worldview, Limbo says, and see the bigger, more complicated picture.” (Rebecca Harrison)
Read our review: Limbo gives a Scottish welcome to four far-flung refugees
Where to see it: In cinemas and on Mubi in 2021
Rob Savage, UK
A feat of socially distanced production-as-story, Rob Savage’s haunted housebound horror, taking place entirely on the videoconferencing platform Zoom, was the film for our locked-down, logged-on year.
We said: “Host was conceived, cast, shot and edited in 12 weeks. Because everything was done remotely, the film can’t help but reflect the dispersed, contingent conditions of its production – given its subject matter, a feature, not a bug. The sheen of fragmented authenticity, combined with the fraught lockdown context in which it’s been viewed, has led to Host being received as a minor DIY classic – a Blair Witch Project for the Covid era.” (Adam Nayman)
Read our review: Host: Zoom-bombing with the astral plane
Where to see it: On Shudder
Pablo Larraín, Chile
Larraín’s latest unleashes Mariana Di Girólamo as a peroxide pyromaniac dancer involved in a wild plot to reclaim her adopted son.
We said: “Adding an entirely unexpected new register to the filmography of an already dazzlingly eclectic filmmaker, Larraín’s Ema is about as lovable as a genius-level sudoku puzzle, but in it, the cinema of what-the-hell-did-I-justwatch uncategorisability has a new title for its pantheon. There simply are no women – no people – like Ema. As elastically portrayed in a performance of event-horizon strangeness and self-possession by newcomer Mariana Di Girólamo, Ema is an unfathomable singularity.” (Jessica Kiang)
Read our review: Ema: Pablo Larraín lights some kind of delirious inferno
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and other platforms
30. Martin Eden
Pietro Marcello, Italy
This stylistically dazzling adaptation of Jack London’s autobiographical novel – about a working-class writer who climbs the ranks of society – transposes the story from the US to Naples and mixes drama with archive footage to create a unique fable.
We said: “Marcello’s adaptation is an exercise in streamlining and condensation. Martin’s trajectory from wide-eyed proletarian to jaundiced celebrity is drawn in one fluid stroke, the struggles and successes of his dual pursuit of a writing career and Elena Orsini’s hand all integrated within the same inexorable motion. Marcello elaborates the story’s symbolic thrust through an ambiguous treatment of period. The initial impression that the film takes place, like the novel, towards the start of the last century is contradicted through subtle anachronisms. What is left is a cautionary tale about the corrupting power of wealth and success.
“This is reinforced rather than offset by Marcello’s signature use of archival footage. As in his earlier experiments in hybrid storytelling, short clips interspersed throughout serve as lyrical counterpoints to the narrative. ” (Giovanni Marchini Camia)
Where to see it: Lockdown postponed its planned November UK release to 2021
29. Little Women
Greta Gerwig, US
An astute adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved coming-of-age story that liberates its Civil War-era sisters without taking liberties.
We said: “Gerwig presents a faithful adaptation of Alcott’s traditional tale, while also taking care to highlight its progressive views. It’s a commanding blend of the sweetly sentimental and the bitingly political. Gerwig’s decision to rework the structure of the novel, bouncing back and forth in time from the girls being engaged together in the innocent pursuits of childhood to facing the realities of adult life separately – Jo as a writer in New York, Meg married with children, Amy on a claustrophobic European tour, Beth facing her own devastating fate – proves a masterstroke. Gerwig focuses on the novel’s key coming-of-age themes rather than individual moments: the loss of childhood, the importance of forging one’s own path, tentative steps towards female emancipation. It is a fresh, dynamic approach that may seem spun from modern feminist thought, but actually makes explicit ideas that Alcott vocally espoused. All four leads are excellent, but Florence Pugh quietly steals the show as Amy.” (Nikki Baughan)
Read our review: Little Women emancipates Louisa May Alcott’s spirited sisters
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Prime and other digital platforms
28. Les Misérables
Ladj Ly, France
Ly offers an insider’s view of how police brutality ripples through a deprived banlieue in the French capital.
We said: “Developed from a 2017 short of the same title, Ly’s debut feature is ostensibly a banlieue film (a genre of the life of marginalised suburban, mostly male youth in French housing estates) – but with the difference that Ly himself grew up in Montfermeil. Unlike the directors of earlier works such as La Haine (Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995) and Etat des lieux (JeanFrançois Richet, 1995), he offers an insider’s view of the social tensions that shape the lives of his characters. The very existence of this film – the product of the suburb, of racial and social solidarity – is something to be celebrated: a flower sprung from concrete. Its depiction of the ways various individuals survive in a society lined with touchpaper is tremendously subtle and accessible. So it’s jarring when, in its final moments, the film descends suddenly and steeply into the abyss, with a shockingly violent and nihilistic coda. Perhaps it’s naive to cling to Les Misérables’ early vision of hope. Perhaps the only solution to a corrupt system is to burn the whole thing down.” (Catherine Wheatley)
Read our review: Les Misérables: 24 hours of violence in the Paris streets
Where to see it: Available now on DVD in the UK
27. His House
Remi Weekes, UK
This canny first feature from Remi Weekes finds fresh terrors for two South Sudanese refugees in the back rooms beyond British social realism.
We said: “First-time director Remi Weekes, working from a story by Felicity Evans and Toby Venables, doesn’t take the comparatively standard approach of establishing a social-realistic context and then letting the supernatural seep in. From the outset, this manages to inhabit both a Ken Loach-type drab urban space and an insidious netherworld. Grounded by nuanced, unhistrionic work from leads Sopé Dìrísù and Wunmi Mosaku as the married Majur couple, His House shifts focus from exterior threat to the cracks in the marriage, exacerbated by disagreements about assimilation – though at the heart of the horror is a particular, personal crime which must be atoned for. Weekes stages a number of stunning moments – a pull-back from Bol sat at an unfamiliar table to show a chunk of the wall of his house floating in a remembered night-sea; and repeated manifestations by the formidable night witch and the skull-masked spectre of the lost girl. In the end, this makes for a terrifying ride with an ambiguous, unsettling conclusion.” (Kim Newman, S&S, December)
Read our review: His House gives a displaced couple no happy home
Where to see it: On Netflix in the UK
26. The Disciple
Chaitanya Tamhane, India
The director of the acclaimed ‘Court’ (2014) won a Fipresci prize in Venice for this Mumbai-set drama about a man (played by real-life musician Aditya Modak) striving to attain his teachers’ artistic and spiritual standards as he pursues a career performing classical ragas.
We said: “The film seems to embody Indian cinema in the contemplative tradition of Satyajit Ray or Mani Kaul, but also makes room for the lurid realities of Indian TV talent shows. The hero’s lonely nocturnal scooter rides make a mesmerising visual thread, and his quest for the ideal in a commercial world makes the film as much a statement about cinema as about music.” (Jonathan Romney, S&S online)
Where to see it: Awaiting UK release
Shannon Murphy, Australia
Shannon Murphy’s debut feature, an adaptation of Rita Kalnejais’s 2012 play, stars Eliza Scanlen and Toby Wallace in a beautifully acted exploration of the pain and absurdity of the young love between a terminally ill teenager and an older drug dealer.
We said: “Babyteeth is a tough one to categorise and the better for it. Far more than a ‘terminal illness’ movie or even a typical coming-of-age story, Murphy’s debut captures the humanity of suffering while resisting the need for sentiment or mawkish pandering.” (David Opie, S&S online)
Read our review: Babyteeth bridges teen romance and terminal illness
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms
Christian Petzold, Germany/France
Petzold’s fantastical ode to Berlin concerns an art historian who has a passionate affair with a diver, and appropriates the mythological figure of the undine – a water nymph – to fashion a love story that doubles as a myth about the city.
We said: “In an early scene, Undine gives a guided tour to a group of tourists. While she outlines Berlin’s urban development across the 20th century, the camera glides over miniature models of the capital. The undine of lore comes out of the water to find love and thus obtain a soul. Berlin, a city that emerged from a swamp, has embarked on this quest again and again. Petzold’s ambiguously hopeful film is a declaration of love.” (Giovanni Marchini Camia, S&S online)
Read our review: Undine is Christian Petzold’s slippery love song to Berlin
Where to see it: Not yet available in the UK
23. The Inheritance
Ephraim Asili, US
Asili’s debut weaves together the histories of the MOVE Organization, the Black Arts Movement and his time in a Black Marxist collective. It centres on a man who inherits his grandmother’s house and turns it into a Black socialist collective.
We say: Asili’s excellent debut feature is a ‘speculative re-enactment’ of his time in a West Philadelphia Black socialist experiment in collective living. The actual space is rendered in vibrant 16mm hues and the human interactions observed with warmth and playful humour, without ever losing sight of serious political purposes and the potential for poetry therein, nor of the bigger historical picture. This last aspect is beautifully and heartbreakingly articulated through archive and informal talks by former associates of MOVE, several of whose members were butchered by the police in 1985. (Kieron Corless)
Where to see it: Not currently available in the UK, but available to stream on Vimeo-on-Demand in some territories
Brandon Cronenberg, Canada/UK
Brandon Cronenberg’s science fiction film about an assassin (played by Andrea Riseborough) who inhabits people’s bodies is a supremely enjoyable and paranoid story of biohacking and psychological turmoil.
We said: “There is so much associated with the Cronenberg legacy that can be found in Possessor – cut-throat corporate skulduggery, weird sci-fi tech, body horror, mannered character names, extreme violence and ‘new flesh’ (here literalised).
“The biggest influence is Cronenberg Sr’s eXistenz (1999), which is similarly concerned with assassins who risk losing themselves in the personae that they adopt as their gaming ‘skins’ – and that film’s lead actress Jennifer Jason Leigh is here cast as Tasya’s handler Girder, a once skilled Possessor now determined to pass down the mantle to the next generation.” (Anton Bitel)
Read our review: Possessor sends Andrea Riseborough out of her mind
Where to see it: On BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema, Amazon Prime and other platforms from 27 November, and released on Blu-ray and DVD on 8 February 2021.
21. The Year of the Discovery
Luis López Carrasco, Spain/Switzerland
Mixing videotape shot in a café in the Spanish city of Cartagena with archive footage of news bulletins and commercials, and told through split-screen compositions, Luis López Carrasco’s feature explores the decisive year of 1992 in modern Spanish history.
We said: The title of this fascinating exploration of the disastrous ground-level effects of the neoliberal turn refers to 1992, when Spain hosted the Seville Expo, marking the quincentenary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, and the Barcelona Olympics. The projected image of a country taking giant modernising strides was somewhat at odds with a cruel reality in certain areas, one such being the coastal city of Cartagena, which was decimated by deindustrialisation in the 90s. Luis López Carrasco’s film is shot in a bustling workers’ café-bar in the city centre where it gathers the testimonies of people who lived through the period. As with Carrasco’s El futuro (2013), a reconstruction of a party to celebrate the incoming Socialist government in 1982, the lessons of history are never transparent or easily gleaned, a philosophical perspective signalled here by the use of split screen and Hi-8 video, the constructed set-up, and a subtle interplay of past and present. At 200 minutes the complexities of the situation are given scope to reveal themselves in a manner that feels just and thoroughly invigorating. (Kieron Corless)
Where to see it: On Festival Scope
Miranda July, US
July sets aside her usual kooky style with this piquant story of the Dynes, a breadline grifter family.
We said: “The economic realities of the Dynes’ daily routine are shot through with comic originality. At one point, Old Dolio tries to stay out of sight of the landlord as she walks past his fence, craning her body sharply backwards rather than squatting; it’s a loopy and inspired piece of limbo-esque slapstick which transforms her into one of Robert Crumb’s ‘Keep on Truckin’’ figures. It would be overpraising Kajillionaire to claim that it is the equal of anything by Aki Kaurismäki but there’s a similar blend here of the bleak and the blithe. Con-trick movies, from House of Games (1987) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) to Matchstick Men (2003), usually end with a last-minute switcheroo, and Kajillionaire is no exception. What has changed is the emphasis. Loss is reconfigured cleverly as a gain, and two queer women are not so much swindled as left with the blessing of a blank slate, freed from the blueprints for family life that have held them back so far.” (Ryan Gilbey)
Read our review: Kajillionaire: Miranda July pulls off a salty family con drama
Where to see it: In UK cinemas and coming to Blu-ray and various digital platforms.
Tomm Moore & Ross Stewart, Ireland/France/Luxembourg
Moore and Stewart’s playful and stirring animation conjures an interregnum Ireland of 1650, caught between pagan spirits and the boot of English invaders.
We said: “WolfWalkers follows the Irish director Tomm Moore’s hand-drawn cartoon films The Secret of Kells (2009) and Song of the Sea (2014). Each has children drawn into natural wonderlands of myth and magic, into adventures about protecting and healing rather than fighting. Like the adult animation of Bill Plympton or the teen-skewed anime of Shinkai Makoto, Moore’s visual style is instantly identifiable. His films’ drawings can look naive and artless, but they’re wondrously composed with swirls and circles and glorious colours, flattened spaces and playful perspectives. WolfWalkers is more of an action-adventure than Moore’s other films, especially in its extended climax. Some set pieces feel inspired by Miyazaki Hayao’s Princess Mononoke (1997). It is hugely successful in engaging us with the enchantingly expressive girls.” (Andrew Osmond, S&S, December)
Read our review: WolfWalkers redraws the bounds of old Ireland’s hunters and hunted
Where to see it: Out now in UK cinemas and on Apple TV+
18. The Woman Who Ran
Hong Sangsoo, South Korea
A Seoul woman meets friends and makes conversation while her husband is on a business trip, in Hong’s latest characteristically talky, deceptively modest offering.
We say: Arguably world cinema’s number one UK-distribution dodger (though gratitude to the film streaming platform Mubi for rectifying this situation of late), the South Korean maestro of neurotic miscommunication and absurdism Hong Sangsoo resurfaces after a lengthy – by his standards – two-year absence with this somewhat unusual addition to his burgeoning canon.
The film stars his regular muse and partner, Kim Minhee, as the apparently happily married Kim catching up, in turn, with three old female acquaintances over several days when her husband heads off on a business trip – her first time alone for several years. The main surprise in a typically episodic and lo-fi narrative – if it can be called that – is the more or less exclusive focus on women, where previously tensions between the sexes have been the director’s abiding preoccupation. (Here, the few encounters with men tend to the fleeting and show them broadly as irritating hurdles for the female protagonists to surmount.) So what we get is a series of chatty, casual, occasionally awkward meetings with, respectively, a contentedly unmarried older woman, a wannabe artist and a career woman married to a famous man – all rendered in Hong’s patented offhand naturalism and for the most part stripped of the tricksier elements of his customary aesthetic.
It makes for an intimate, perceptive, occasionally humorous snapshot of these women’s lives, the subtle shifts in perspective belying the seeming artlessness. Are we to surmise that these situations reveal what-might-have-been scenarios for Kim; or potential futures for her should she decide to leave her husband (although there’s no real hint of that being on the cards)? As ever with Hong, and even in the context of one of his more direct and readable works, a pleasurable elusiveness pervades matters. (Kieron Corless)
Read our review: The Woman Who Ran turns circles telling stories
Where to see it: On Mubi from 20 December, along with two earlier Hong Sangsoo films – Tale of Cinema (2005) and Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013)
Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, Brazil
Brazil’s bad blood rises in a small corner of the country’s northeastern hinterlands as Udo Kier’s brigade of gringos besieges Sonia Braga’s small-town community, in this way-out western.
We said: “It was always likely that in his third feature Kleber Mendonça Filho was going to take on Jair Bolsonaro. But as in his previous film, Aquarius (2016), fascism works in mysterious ways in his WTF western. And Mendonça Filho keeps the real enemy tantalisingly out of focus. Bacurau is a small impoverished town in the arid north-eastern hinterlands of Brazil; but it’s also a utopia of sorts, with its tight-knit community who stand firm against exterior threats. So far, so western as the village increasingly comes under siege: it bizarrely disappears off the map, mobile signal disappears and corpses pile up. Throw in psychotropic drugs, a drone that resembles a 1950s B-movie flying saucer, assassins in neon motorcycle suits and a posse of foreign mercenaries thirsty for blood, and what emerges is a shape-shifting genre yarn with surprises aplenty but maybe at times too much on its plate.” (Isabel Stevens)
Read our review: Bacurau is a tough and timeless Brazilian frontier western
Where to see it: On Blu-ray and to stream on Mubi
16. David Byrne’s American Utopia
Spike Lee, US
David Byrne’s Broadway show is captured in dynamic, exhilarating fashion in Spike Lee’s concert film.
We said: Leonie Cooper talked to Byrne for our December issue, and asked him why he went to Spike Lee for the project: “We’ve never really worked together, but we’ve crossed paths a lot so it was easy, I had his phone number! Also, because of a lot of the issues that are brought up in the show, I thought, ‘He’s gonna get this.’ We first met in the 80s. In a sense we were coming up together on parallel paths, me in music, him in film and somehow I got invited to the premiere of Do the Right Thing…
Like Stop Making Sense, I think this has an arc. There’s a beginning and a middle and an end. The lead character, that would be me, or whoever I’m playing, goes on a journey. You start in one place and end up somewhere quite quite different. I realised that this show, like that one, is not simply us performing a series of songs, ending with our biggest hit. It’s really constructed to take the audience somewhere.” (S&S, December)
Read our review: David Byrne’s American Utopia doesn’t burn down the house
Where to see it: On digital platforms from 14 December and on disc from 11 January 2021
Josephine Decker, US
Josephine Decker’s adaptation of Susan Scarf Merrell’s teasingly fantasy-refracted portrait of the supernatural horror writer Shirley Jackson, played here by Elisabeth Moss.
We said: “This fictionalised portrait of the American author Shirley Jackson commences with young bride Rose Nemser (Odessa Young) reading Jackson’s short story ‘The Lottery’ while on a train journey with her husband Fred (Logan Lerman). The film is at its most effective and affecting not when it attempts the high drama of unsolved murders (the two women briefly involve themselves in a real-life case presented as influential on Jackson’s 1951 novel Hangsaman), extramarital affairs and suicide attempts, but when it depicts more subtle and intimate forms of betrayal and manipulation. Stanley’s superficial charm and shameless self-interest is depicted with particular insight, and beautifully played by Michael Stuhlbarg. We glimpse an infinite expanse of historical male entitlement in the brief scene in which Stanley co-opts Rose into taking over Shirley’s neglected household chores.
“Moss, tasked both with portraying a well-known and visually distinctive real-life person and with playing multiple scenes that may or may not be occurring only in the realm of fantasy, has the harder job. Though persuasively edgy, angry and strange – and provided by Sarah Gubbins’s fine script with plenty of savage witticisms and sharp observations – her Shirley is not someone to whom the film brings us close. Rather, she is a catalyst, her strangeness stirring others into anger or action.
“Maybe Shirley does not quite come together here because such a large part of what forms her has been left out. While openly fictionalised portraits owe negotiable fealty to biographical truth, it’s startling for a film concerned with the impact of domestic and reproductive labour on women’s intellectual and creative lives to erase the fact that its protagonist’s real-life embodiment had four children. They’re present in Merrell’s novel, but vanished here. The omission of her experience of motherhood renders this version of Jackson the ‘witch’ she jokes about being, irrationally angry at abstract forces, rather than understandably burned out from tending offspring, husband and career.” (Hannah McGill)
Where to see it: Curzon Home Cinema
14. The Assistant
Kitty Green, US
The post-#MeToo drama stars a superb Julia Garner as an employee whose film producer boss uses his position to abuse women.
We said: “The Assistant provokes a visceral physical reaction; the churning of the stomach, the gritting of the teeth, the white-knuckle gripping of a seat edge. It has malevolent monsters and horrified victims, and hums with a palpable sense of threat. It is, without doubt, a horror movie. Yet, while writer-director Kitty Green’s sensitively made yet hard-hitting feature debut plays out in a dark, cold world full of secrets, lies and isolation, hers is no nightmarish fantasy landscape. Instead, she deftly – and devastatingly lays bare the fears that come with being made to feel like a voiceless, helpless, insignificant woman in an aggressively male environment. The greatest strength of The Assistant is that it forces us to understand how easy it is to turn the other way, to become complicit, because it’s impossible to do anything else. It demands that we pay attention to those who are brave enough to take a stand; that it is up to all of us to amplify individual voices that would otherwise go unheard.” (Nikki Baughan)
Read our interview: Kitty Green on The Assistant: “We all know what happens behind that closed door”
Steve McQueen, UK
The centrepiece in McQueen’s five-film ‘Small Axe’ anthology depicts the true story of the protests and landmark court case involving the ‘Mangrove Nine’ that followed discriminatory police raids on a Notting Hill restaurant.
We said: “The scorching Mangrove suggests a return to the kind of distilled, focused storytelling and socially relevant themes that distinguished BBC’s Play for Today. With ‘Powell for PM’ graffiti glimpsed on the streets, McQueen and cinematographer Shabier Kirchner immerse us in the community in heartfelt, sensuous ways. When the characters are out, partying on the street, the camera is right there with them, a joyful participant, fluid and tactile, the music perfectly complementing the images.
The camera is right in there, too, in the painful scenes of the raids, and in the central protest sequence – after which the film narrows down from a community portrait to the courtroom drama of Frank and his associates’ trial. Among the most important films of the year, and certainly one of its filmmaker’s finest, Mangrove sets the bar high for the rest of Small Axe. Connecting us to the past, Mangrove enlightens and empowers us in the present. ” (Alex Ramon)
Read our review: Mangrove relays Black British struggles of the past
Where to see it: On BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime
12. Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee, US
Lee’s bravura, breakneck war drama, about a group of Black Vietnam veterans returning to the country decades after the war to recover the body of a fallen comrade, follows the blood line of America’s racial wrongs, from the civil rights era to Black Lives Matter.
We said: “Da 5 Bloods fires shots at American revisionism of the Vietnam War through the viewfinder of African-American soldiers. Using his now familiar Brechtian storytelling style, Lee continually breaks the fourth wall, mixing archive footage, stills photography and fiction to link past and present and weaving a tale in which a turbulent father-and-son relationship and the murder of civil rights leaders is an allegory for historical American wrongs leading to the Black Lives Matter movement. Da 5 Bloods is quite some undertaking. By and large Lee succeeds, even if along the way the story hits some cul-de-sacs with cursory plotting involving Jean Reno’s evil trafficker, the work of landmine removal, and a pot of gold taken straight out of John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). Where the film does chime magnificently is in the performance of Delroy Lindo as Paul, and the suggestion that past failings undermine present-day relationships. The opening salvo, featuring archive footage from America and Vietnam from the late 60s and 70s, including speeches by Muhammad Ali, Kwame Ture and Angela Davis, feels like it could be for a Black Lives Matter rally. Here, Lee asks the audience to make a connection between Paul’s failure to come to terms with his past, which has led to him voting for Trump, and the way that America’s failure to deal with its history of slavery has contributed to feelings of white supremacy embodied in the Trump presidency.
“The savvy decision to allow the actors to play their younger selves in flashback sequences reinforces the film’s central thesis that past and present are intertwined. Paul’s PTSD, which sees him descend into the heart of darkness, is a reflection of America’s broken conscience. By closing with a Martin Luther King Jr speech and an end-credit intertitle about his assassination, Lee – with mixed success – positions the civil rights leader as present-day America’s father, whose assassination is the country’s Rosebud.” (Kaleem Aftab)
Read our review: Da 5 Bloods: Spike Lee brings the Vietnam War home
11. Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross, US
The Ross brothers’ poetic portrait of the denizens of a Las Vegas bar mixes documentary and fiction in a heady brew.
We said: “There was much hubbub at Sundance 2020 over the way Bill and Turner Ross made their stellar Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, including some pearl-clutching over the fact that it was even programmed in the US Documentary Competition at all. The brothers have long embraced the elasticity of the form; the ‘realness’ of their second film Tchoupitoulas was questioned in various corners, and their third documentary Western was a genre film with all the constructedness that implies. They carefully cast their new film, which observes a ragtag group of regulars on the last day of their favourite bar, faked the location and worked closely with their subjects/ stars to create bracingly real emotion within a partially constructed scenario.
“The brothers made Bloody Nose this way for many reasons, including ethical considerations (getting folks drunk while filming requires a certain level of control and familiarity, for example). During a session at the Based on a True Story (Boats) conference that I co-programme at the University of Missouri, which runs concurrently with the True/False Film Fest in March, Ross brother Turner talked about searching for the perfect bar on the perfect night, a desire to conjure a deeply true feeling that couldn’t be ‘found’ like a news story. The love and pain shown in Bloody Nose is heartbreakingly real; the insights into human experience alive with value. The brothers evoked Lionel Rogosin’s seminal classic On the Bowery (1955), embraced the collaborative, broke any made-up rules they needed to and used cinema to salvage nonfiction. ‘You can manufacture an experience,’ Turner said at Boats, ‘but it doesn’t have to be a manufactured experience.’
“The debates over truthiness that swallowed Bloody Nose at Sundance felt irrelevant and backwards. What counts as ‘documentary’ is always expanding, but if we want to make linear nonfiction films that are relevant, we need to move past these old debates. There is, emphatically, no boundary between fiction and documentary, but truth matters more than ever.” (Robert Greene)
Read our report: The shape of documentary to come
Where to see it: In UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from 24 December 2020
Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan
Bringing his ailing muse Lee Kang-sheng together with a younger generation in the form of Anong Houngheuangsy, Tsai returns to feature filmmaking with his most tender depiction of physical and emotional coupling.
We said: “Poignant and intensely moving, Days gestures towards a reconciliation with themes of desire and sexuality that have troubled Tsai’s cinema since the beginning. Following the Venice premiere of Stray Dogs in 2013, Tsai had vaguely announced his retirement, citing exhaustion with the production model of feature films. What followed was a quick succession of smaller scale, more intimate works in various formats, including an excursion into virtual reality. Maintaining a gentle rhythm and almost wholly eschewing dialogue, for its first hour Days oscillates between depicting Anong’s daily life and following Lee as he travels to Bangkok to seek acupuncture treatment. The two strands eventually converge in a hotel room, where Lee has hired Anong to give him a full body massage, which culminates in sex. This scene, extending across a good half-hour, functions as the film’s centrepiece and offers the most tender rendition of sex to be found in Tsai’s filmography.
“It wouldn’t be a stretch to interpret the nature of Lee and Anong’s eventual coming together, and its inherent power imbalance, as a reflection on the intermingling of the personal and the professional in Tsai’s relationship with his actors. In its deliberate pacing and rigorous focus, Tsai’s deeply compassionate portrait generates the most acute investment in his characters.” (Giovanni Marchini Camia)
Read our review: Days: Tsai Ming-liang makes his peace with sexual release
Where to see it: Still awaiting UK distribution
Sarah Gavron, UK
A London teenager (Bukky Bakray) grows up fast and is burdened with adult responsibilities when her mother leaves the family home. It’s a joyous but gritty drama for which director Sarah Gavron and writers Theresa Ikoko and Claire Wilson sought to enable the all-female crew and cast of teenage girls to tell their story in their own honest way.
We said: “The celebratory, boundary-pushing story behind Rocks isn’t one of liberal goodwill from white gatekeepers who’ve chosen to decentre themselves. As Ikoko points out, ‘That implies that all of the responsibility, therefore all of the kudos, is on them. Actually, it is a team of a hundred women who took centre-stage, and it wasn’t given to us or sacrificed for us. Nobody stepped aside – we all stepped up.’ It’s a point Gavron says she agrees with entirely.
“It was by design that the film’s young subjects would be given both the opportunity and the resources to tell their own story, on their own terms. To do this, the team would need to do away with hierarchy and so it was established from the beginning of the project that there would be no conventional chain of command.
“Instead of the usual setup, the filmmaking would be organised around the idea of reciprocity, and the girls’ individual ideas considered with seriousness. Associate director Anuradha Henriques describes ‘a shared value system’ led by the voices of Black and Brown women telling stories as an antidote to traditional, top-down filmmaking. ‘For me, as a younger filmmaker, that’s one of the things I can’t compromise on now,’ she says. This model isn’t a kind of feminist utopia – it’s a necessity.’” (Simran Hans)
Read our review: Rocks follows a London girl growing up fast and letting go slowly
Chloé Zhao, US
Frances McDormand is magnificent in Zhao’s powerful film about the people cast aside by today’s unforgiving economy, and forced to live on the road in the American West.
We said: “In a story based on Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book, McDormand plays a Nevada woman who joins the masses of American nomads – the new dispossessed who migrate in mobile homes, eking out a living from job to job. Alongside McDormand and David Strathairn are a host of non-professionals, including Bob Wells, a guru of contemporary American nomadism. McDormand is endlessly watchable in a very open, generous performance where, with the least rhetoric, it’s clear that she’s channelling the contemporary experience of multitudes. A sober, moving film about isolation and community.” (Jonathan Romney)
Where to see it: After lockdown postponed its release, the film is now slated for February 2021.
7. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Eliza Hittman, US
A young woman named Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) travels to New York to terminate her pregnancy, in Hittman’s sensitive drama, which both exposes the inhumanity of the US healthcare system and offers a paean to female solidarity.
We said: “In steady, sparing takes that often rest on Flanigan’s face – vivid despite its expressionlessness – the story unfolds with procedural curiosity. Hittman’s previous films, It Felt like Love (2013) and Beach Rats (2017), were both coming-of-age stories. But her third feature is fully mature: like Ryder’s lovely, clouded, wise-before-her-years gaze, it is informed by an almost ancient weariness at the way we treat young women, and the way the resilience and agency of girlhood is so frequently overlooked or condescended to. Never florid, rarely contrived, sometimes painful, always true, Hittman’s film is far more than the abortion story it so single-mindedly follows. It is also a deeply moving prayer of admiration for girls – the wary, watchful ones who have learned to expect nothing of anybody except one another, from whom they expect, and regularly receive, the world.” (Jessica Kiang)
Where to see it: On DVD, Blu-ray and streaming platforms
6. Dick Johnson Is Dead
Kirsten Johnson, US
Johnson’s superbly inventive movie confronts the trauma of her father’s imminent death with multiple advance stagings of it.
We said: “If there’s any sublimated anger at all in Johnson’s desire to symbolically serial-kill her progenitor, it’s not delved into here. Johnson’s project is about the management not of filial ambivalence, outsized parental legacies or unfinished emotional business, but of love. As Dick begins to show signs of confusion, her lament is disarming in its straightforwardness: “He won’t be able to follow what I’m saying, so I won’t be able to ask him for any more advice, and the whole time will just be trying to get by.” In the face of this encroaching loss, what is the value of this patricidal tableaux? We undergo at a stranger’s remove a version of her efforts at mental preparation for the inevitable. We see Dick robbed of animation and of dignity; we experience relief at his revival; we appreciate him anew. What we don’t do is become inured to the idea of his death; conversely, we attach to his living image more, a process that Johnson acknowledges and encourages by keeping us guessing until the final hour about Dick’s actual condition.” (Hannah McGill)
Read our review: Dick Johnson Is Dead: resurrections beat the blues
5. Saint Maud
Rose Glass, UK
After debuting at festivals in 2019, and with its original spring release date pushed back, this potent debut feature from Rose Glass finally emerged into cinemas in the autumn, and became the British horror hit of the year, tackling themes of religion, death and self-harm with a remarkably deft touch. It put us into the fervent hands and head of Morfydd Clark’s troubled young care worker as she brings her ministrations to Jennifer Ehle’s terminally ill ex-dancer.
We said: “Glass’s film follows the story of a burned-out, self-harming young palliative care nurse looking for purpose, forgiveness and someone to save in a bleak seaside town, loomed over by a large house on the hill in which Amanda, a middle-aged American dancer with great taste in art deco wallpaper, is dying of cancer. Saint Maud is a compelling and impactful film, a remarkable debut, and one of the most human and empathetic horrors of recent times. As such, Glass deserves the attention, and the excitement around her as an important future figure in British film is justified.
A broken health service, a dereliction of duty of care, a desperation for a connection of any kind, an unseen malevolent force playing tricks with the mind. Maud’s horror is our horror. Her time – and that of her creator Rose Glass – is very much now.” (Mike Williams)
Read our review: Saint Maud: a heady British horror duet, up close and devoted
Where to see it: Still playing in selected cinemas across the UK. The film will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital platforms, including Amazon Prime, in early 2021
4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Charlie Kaufman, US
Kaufman’s claustrophobic chamber theatre piece-cum-road movie-cum-psychological horror – made for Netflix and released straight to the streaming platform, bypassing cinemas – stars Jessie Buckley as a young woman who travels with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to meet his parents, played by Toni Collette and David Thewlis.
We said: Jonathan Romney spoke to Kaufman about his film, and his new novel Antkind, for our October issue. In comments that didn’t make it into that feature, Kaufman told Romney:
“I’d been looking over the years for something to adapt and I came across this novel. It was very dreamy and somewhat nightmarish, which appealed to me, but it was also very contained – it was basically four characters, and it takes place in a car and in a farmhouse. I thought, “This isn’t going to cost a lot; maybe somebody will be willing to take a chance.” I haven’t reread the book since I made the movie, but I did change a lot, and I definitely changed the character of the young woman a lot – I wanted something more for an actress to play but I also wanted to give her agency, so that it felt more about things that happen in an actual relationship, rather than the thing that the book is.”
When Romney asked Kaufman what place he felt he had in the world today, Kaufman replied in characteristic fashion: “I don’t feel secure at all. I don’t know how anyone could feel secure in the world as it is right now. Everything is up in the air, and also in some odd way feels irrelevant. Things are so awful, so who cares where my career is? (Laughs)”
3. First Cow
Kelly Reichardt, US
Reichardt gives us a deliciously laconic vision of the pioneer American melting pot with this playful, poignant fable of a couple of furtive cakebakers in 1820s Oregon.
We said: “First Cow has the down-at-heel period authenticity of, say, Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller married to the poignancy of Sam Peckinpah’s westerns, and it’s couched in an always playful anti-macho mood of laconic going-with-the-flow, while subverting the clichés of westerns. Its use of detail the paraphernalia of pioneer existence – is exquisite. What’s really impressive too is its use of a prelapsarian mood to portray an America built on racial and social diversity.” (Nick James)
Where to see it: Yet to be released in the UK
Garrett Bradley, US
Bradley’s diary film follows Sibil Fox Richardson, who for nearly two decades has been campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob, after he was sentenced in 1999 to 60 years in prison for a robbery.
We said: “The success of Time speaks to the revelatory power of its twinned perspective: its combination of Fox’s video diaries with Bradley’s artfully shot vignettes of the Richardson family’s daily lives. As Fox and her sons persevere through limbo narrating their lives to Rob in the home videos, visiting courts, receiving reverse-charge calls, and going about their jobs in Bradley’s footage – we also see them grow and change.
Fox transforms from a young, vulnerable and defiantly optimistic mother to a jaded, polished but still resolute matriarch; her boys emerge as passionate and resilient young men. Blending autobiographical and observational modes, and interweaving the past and the present, the film offers both an epic and an everyday account of incarceration’s thefts – of time; of intimacy.
Stylistically, Time recalls Bradley’s previous film, America (2019), an archival and speculative monochrome meditation on the gaps in the records of Black American cinema. Where America sought to reclaim lost histories, Time endeavours to commit to the screen an obscured, often ungraspable reality: the American prisonindustrial complex.
Time appeals to our most fundamental desires: for love, affection, community – and it makes a more powerful case for the abolition of prisons than any polemical statement might.” (Devika Girish)
Read our review: Time is a powerful distillation of lives divided
1. Lovers Rock
Steve McQueen, UK
A house party thrown by young Black Britons in London in the early 1980s becomes a haven in the rapturous, sublime second film in Steve McQueen’s landmark five-film Small Axe collection. Lovers Rock celebrates the reliefs of kinship and intimacy, as it tells the story of the tentative romance between Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) and Micheal Ward (Franklyn), while at the same time offering a wonderfully immersive and nostalgic ode to the musical genre that gives McQueen’s film its name.
The broadcaster and renowned historian of Black British history David Olusoga spoke to Steve McQueen for the cover feature of our December issue, and asked the director about his film:
David Olusoga: The making of the films and the content says: ‘Here is Black creativity, here’s what we can do, here’s what we can create.’ I loved the amount of time you gave in Lovers Rock to the conversion of a normal London house into a blues party – the getting out of the furniture and the building of the sound system. Here are Black people making something for themselves, people who aren’t wanted somewhere else.
Steve McQueen: For me, it was about ritual. The process is just as important as what it ends up being. To take you on that journey where it gets to a point where it transcends, even beyond the people in the room. It becomes church. Some people say the Holy Spirit or whatever, but you know, it did happen. When I was shooting [the dance scenes in Lovers Rock], that was for real. I became invited into that situation. It was an honour to be there. As an artist, you wish to be invited, and that’s what happened.
I’d never experienced that before. It was a spiritual experience. It wasn’t performative. Something happened in that room, and we happened to have a camera there to record it. It was Black people seeing other Black people, feeling what they were feeling, and a Black director, a Black cinematographer, and the fact they could see each other and vibe off each other – and be each other, as you rightly said – that’s what happened.
Read our review: Lovers Rock finds a sanctuary for Black love
Where to see it: On BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime
Sign up for Sight & Sound’s Weekly Film Bulletin and more
News, reviews and archive features every Friday, and information about our latest magazine once a month.