4. No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen)
A meditation on the fickle nature of fate? A parable-like story of good versus evil? A lesson in how not to wear one’s hair? All this and more in this, a superb return to form for the brothers Coen, intermingling their well-known trademarks (black humour, a host of oddball characters) with the Cormac McCarthy source story to create a hugely entertaining romper of a thriller, but with enough brains to placate the arthouse set. Props also to both DP Roger Deakins and composer Carter Burwell for their remarkable yet easy-to-overlook contributions to the feel of the film.
3. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu)
The Palme D’or winner at last year’s Cannes, 4 Months… is a grim polemic showing what the criminalization of abortion can lead people to do out of necessity. Sparely shot, though uncompromisingly graphic when it needs to be, director Mungiu demonstrates a remarkable control over both narrative flow and audience tension, whilst the two female leads give superb, and very different performances: in particular, the fearful resolve of Anamaria Marinca to get through their ordeal. Filmmaking at its most powerful.