Anna Smith

Witty, gloriously irreverent and black as night, with a career-best performance from Colin Farrell. Gone Baby Gone Ben Affleck, USA This confident, engaging and emotionally complex drama deserved to be a bigger hit when it was finally released in June. I'd have loved to have seen it trounce the lazy, patronising cash-in that was Sex And The City The Movie. It'll be interesting to see if director Ben Affleck can follow this. In Search of a Midnight Kiss Alex Holdridge, USA One of those...

University of Cambridge UK Cloverfield Matt Reeves USA

Shows that monster movies look better through a camcorder. WALL E Andrew Stanton, USA For the first 40 minutes it's the best wordless comedy since the silent era. The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan, USA This is a truly disturbing dystopia with an unforgettable performance from Heath Ledger. Los Bastardos Amat Escalante, Mexico France USA A home-invasion movie, both brutal and subtle, which subverts all the stereotypes of Mexico and the USA. The Orphanage Juan Antonio Bayona, Spain France, 2006 A...

Alexis A Tioseco Critic Philippines

Bontoc Eulogy Marlon Fuentes, USA Philippines Bontoc Eulogy was made in 1995, but I first saw it - first heard about it - this past March, in Paris of all places at Cinema du Reel. Telling the story of Markod, one of many Filipino savages put on display in the St. Louis World Fair of 1904, the film is a stunning feat of borrowing and appropriation Edison films, Burton Holmes travel footage , a sincere fake-documentary, and a meditation on the nature of images, memory, identity, and cinema. It...

Mark Cousins Prospect UK

The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan, USA This was fuelled by such anxiety about cities and what festers within them that it reminded me of the great anti-city films of the 1920s as exciting as Metropolis. Of Time and the City Terence Davies, UK This showed a city where savvy, humour and memory is smelted. Julia Erick Zonca, France Zonca's exhilarating film treats its main character like a dung beetle scuttling through life. It made me think of Imamura's brilliant The Insect Woman someone release...

Michael Atkinson Critic USA

The crazed Winnipego-paleokino-alchemist, no-budget magus caps his meta-autobiographical trilogy and scores his most moving film. There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, USA Who saw this coming, from the smug artificer-auteur of Magnolia Textures no one's seen in a period film before. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days Cristian Mungiu, Romania A hyperrealist ordeal by anticipation and, with an earned closet of international awards, the best of the Romanian films. The Flight of the Red Balloon Hou...

Chris Darke Critic UK

The Beaches of Agn s Agn s Varda, France Supposedly her last feature, Varda's semi-encyclopaedic cin -m moire is an enchanting documentary self-portrait covering her life and work. The story will no doubt be filled out in the five-part, four-hour television version to be screened on ARTE in 2010. Hunger Steve McQueen, UK This devastatingly interior work closes round the viewer like the faeces-smeared walls of a hunger-striker's cell. Proof that McQueen's generation of film-mad artists has...

Kate Stables Critic UK

There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, USA This lean, dusty epic, breathtakingly ambitious in every aspect, includes a towering performance from Day-Lewis. It's a classic for our peak oil era. Lars and the Real Girl Craig Gillespie, USA Not just your average boy-meets-sex-doll love story. This whip- smart, big-hearted comedy of small town salvation brought Capra- esque charm back into the movies in spades. Lust, Caution Ang Lee, USA China Taiwan Hong Kong Lee at the peak of his powers,...

Charles Whitehouse Writer UKFrance

The Wire series 1-4 I'm saving 5 David Simon, USA Probably saved my marriage by filling Saturday nights with so much passive mutual pleasure. Television more like a great engrossing novel than visual pastime. What actors What a buzz And casually multi-ethnic like a 'so what ' shrug. I'm Going to Explode Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico All that Mexican cinema energy is given a mildly Godardian short circuit here as two unlikely young lovers pretend to go on the run while camping out of the roof of the...

Assistant Editor Sight Sound United Red Army Wakamatsu Koji Japan

Wakamatsu Koji's gripping 3-hour docudrama account of Japan's Red Army Faction of the 1970s stands head and shoulders above The Baader Meinhof Complex as an insight into radical terrorist groups. There's no glamour here instead the suffocating claustrophobia of life inside such a group, particularly the gruesome scenes of 'self-criticism', is almost unbearable to watch. It deserves far more international exposure than it's so far had. Still Walking Kore-eda Hirokazu, Japan Kore-eda Hirokazu's...

Fernanda Solorzano Critic Mexico

Bullet in the Head Jaime Rosales, Spain Rosales' take on the activities of Basque terrorist organisation ETA is daring and unbashful. By leaving out any discernible dialogue, his re-creation of a bloody incident manages to send the audience a message on the absurdity of 'explaining' death. Be Kind, Rewind Michel Gondry, USA Only Gondry could have pulled this off. His display of homemade filming techniques is both a charming homage to pop-culture myths and a jaw-dropping lesson in the art of...

Catherine Wheatley Critic UK

Snow Aida Begic, Bosnia amp Herzegovina Germany France Iran Persepolis Vincent Paronnaud Marjane Satrapi, France USA Caramel Nadine Labaki, France Lebanon I've Loved You So Long Philippe Claudel, France 2008 seemed to me to be a particularly vibrant year for women filmmakers, with great works coming from old hands, such as Catherine Breillat, Laeticia Masson, Sandrine Bonnaire and Agn s Varda, and newcomers at least to these shores , including Pia Marais, Lucia Puenzo, C line Sciamma and Joanna...

Andrea Dittgen

Critic, Germany WALL E Andrew Stanton, USA Who could ever forget this cute little robot with eyes like E.T. Never before did earth after the extinction of mankind look so peaceful, idyllic and fascinating. Enjoy the first 40 minutes without dialogue and smile to yourself - these emotions will stay in the subconscious. RR James Benning, USA Germany The camera remains in a fixed position, as it did more than a hundred years ago with Edison and the Lumi re Brothers, and watches the trains go by....

Adrian Martin Critic Australia

Our Beloved Month of August Miguel Gomes, Portugal France This Portuguese film is the revelation of the year - an idiosyncratic, very funny and moving blend of documentary, fiction and popular music. The Silence of Lorna Luc Dardenne Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium France Italy Germany The Belgian brothers' best film since Rosetta shows, once and for all, how their supposed 'social realism' has much more do with Bresson and philosophy. Gray is the new Jerry Lee Lewis the French love him and...

Brad Stevens Critic UK

The Flight of the Red Balloon Hou Hsaio-hsien, Taiwan France This sublime example of humanist cinema reinforces Hou's status as one of the world's greatest film-makers. Chelsea on the Rocks Abel Ferrara, USA Any year with both a new Hou and a new Ferrara must be a good one. Amid the bombast and pompousness of many of today's acclaimed films, the dismissal of Ferrara's latest as a minor work suggests the nature of its importance. Heartbeat Detector Nicolas Klotz, France The year's biggest...