20. One More Time with Feeling (2016) Dir. Andrew Dominik, 112 mins.
It documents the recording of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ sixteenth studio album, Skeleton Tree, in the aftermath of the death of Cave’s 15-year-old son Arthur.
19. Boyhood (2014) Dir. Richard Linklater, 163 mins.
Filmed from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood depicts the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans Jr. (Coltrane) from ages six to eighteen as he grows up in Texas with divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke).
18. ‘Til Madness Do Us Part (2013) Dir. Wang Bing, 228 mins.
It observes the daily activity on one floor of a Chinese mental institution in Yunnan, Southwest of China.
17. Winter Sleep (2014) Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 196 mins.
Adapted from the short story, “The Wife” by Anton Chekhov and one subplot of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the story is set in Anatolia and examines the significant divide between the rich and the poor as well as the powerful and the powerless in Turkey. Watch
16. For Sama (2019) Dir. Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts, 100 mins.
The film focuses on Waad Al-Kateab’s journey as a journalist and rebel in the Syrian uprising. Her husband is Hamza Al-Kateab, one of the few doctors left in Aleppo, and they raise their daughter Sama Al-Kateab during the Syrian Civil War.
15. Dead Souls (2018) Dir. Wang Bing, 495 mins.
Documents the testimony of survivors of the hard-labor camp in the Gobi Desert in Gansu, China.
14.The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Dir. Wes Anderson, 99 mins.
Featuring an ensemble cast, Anderson’s marvellously entertaining comedy stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees, the lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. Fiennes, with his perfect delivery of the witty rapid fire dialogue, is a revelation.
13. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) Dir. Isao Takahata, 137 mins.
Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter (James Caan) and his wife (Mary Steenburgen), a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady (Chloë Grace Moretz). The mysterious young princess enthrals all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime. Buy
12. An Elephant Sitting Still (2018) Dir. Hu Bo, 234 minutes.
The first and only film by the novelist-turned-director Hu, who committed suicide soon after finishing the movie, is set in the Chinese city of Manzhouli, and follows four people through a complicated day as their lives intersect.
11. Paths of the Soul (2015) Dir. Zhang Yang, 115 mins.
It tells of a journey taken by Tibetan villagers on a 1,200 kilometer pilgrimage to Lhasa.
10. Nostalgia for the Light (2010) Dir. Patricio Guzmán, 90 mins.
Guzmán’s documentary addresses the lasting impacts of Augusto Pinochet’s time in power by focusing on the similarities between astronomers researching humanity’s past, in an astronomical sense, and the struggle of many Chilean women who still search, after decades, for the remains of their relatives executed during the dictatorship.
9. Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins, 110 mins.
The film presents three stages in the life of the main character, his youth, adolescence and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.
8. The Tree of Life (2011) Dir. Terrence Malick, 138 mins.
The first American film to win the Palme d’Or since 2004, Malick’s ambitious experimental epic chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man (Sean Penn) and his childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, particularly his often difficult relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). The family drama is interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth. The film polarised critics with some considering such a philosophical work to be incomprehensible and pretentious, particularly the depiction of evolution, but when the film focuses on the drama of small town domestic life, Malick finds an emotional core, which is helped along by some fine performances and beautiful cinematography. More…
7. Incendies (2010) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 130 mins.
The story concerns Canadian twins who travel to their mother’s native country in the Middle East to uncover her hidden past amidst a bloody civil war.
6. The Act of Killing (2012) Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, 115 mins.
The Act of Killing is a documentary about individuals who participated in the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66. Watch
5. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Dir. Don Hertzfeldt, 62 mins.
The film is divided into three chapters and follows the story of a stick-figure man named Bill, who struggles with his failing memory and absurdist visions, among other symptoms of an unknown neurological illness, implied to be brain cancer.
4. A Separation (2011) Dir. Asghar Farhadi, 123 mins.
It focuses on an Iranian middle-class couple who separate, the disappointment and desperation suffered by their daughter due to the egotistical disputes and separation of her parents, and the conflicts that arise when the husband hires a lower-class caregiver for his elderly father, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
3. The Turin Horse (2011) Dir. Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky, 146 mins.
It recalls the whipping of a horse in the Italian city of Turin which is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
2. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) Dir. Céline Sciamma, 120 mins.
Set in France in the late 18th century, the film tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait.
1. Parasite (2019) Dir. Bong Joon-ho, 132 mins.
The first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, it follows the members of a poor family who scheme to become employed by a wealthy family by infiltrating their household and posing as unrelated, highly qualified individuals.