Screen’s senior US critic, LA-based Grierson has written for the publication since 2005. Read our other critics’ top tens here.


Source: Searchlight Pictures


Top ten

1. Nomadland
Dir. Chloé Zhao
Deceptively straightforward and unassuming, yet able to encapsulate so much of the human experience, Zhao’s third feature is her first with a Hollywood star. But Frances McDormand is uniquely suited to this material and this director, delivering the most open performance of her career as a widow grieving her husband and the ghost town where they used to live happily. Inspired by Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction reporting, Nomadland examines the US subculture of nomads who travel across the American West, with McDormand effortlessly blending in with the non-actors her character meets along the way. A road movie and a survivor’s story, a commentary on both solitude and community, Nomadland strips away everything until it ultimately becomes about the fragile essence of being alive — and the road ahead, whose destination no-one can say. Contact: Searchlight Pictures
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2. New Order
Dir. Michel Franco
Attuned to the bitter economic disparity rippling across society, this stark dystopian drama asks a pointed question: ‘What happens after the revolution?’ Franco’s answers are troubling in a film that argues overthrowing one corrupt system may only allow another, more terrifying one to flourish. A passionate argument-starter made with vibrancy and plenty of provocation. Contact: The Match Factory
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3. The Nest
Dir. Sean Durkin
An existential horror film in which the house isn’t haunted but its occupants most certainly are, Durkin’s long-awaited follow-up to Martha Marcy May Marlene features wonderfully prickly performances from Jude Law and Carrie Coon as a married couple slowly disintegrating. Amid the domestic upheaval, The Nest also serves as an excellent dissection of 1980s greed and the myth of the self-made man. Contact: FilmNation Entertainment
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4. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things
Dir. Charlie Kaufman
No-one expects warm and fuzzy from the brilliant misanthrope responsible for Synecdoche, New York but Kaufman outdoes himself here, chronicling an anxiety-inducing encounter between a depressed woman (Jessie Buckley) and her boyfriend’s parents. Combining Lynch-ian surrealism with audacious tonal shifts, the film is so wildly imaginative and unsettling you never want it to end. Contact: Netflix
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5. She Dies Tomorrow
Dir. Amy Seimetz
The main character of Seimetz’s disconcerting feature is certain she will die tomorrow — soon, her strange conviction starts to infect everyone around her like a virus. A psychological horror film this unnerving has no right to be this darkly funny. Contact: XYZ Films
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6. Days 
Dir. Tsai Ming-liang
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7. The Father
Florian Zeller
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8. Lovers Rock
Steve McQueen
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9. The Surrogate
Dir. Jeremy Hersh

10. Relic
Dir. Natalie Erika James
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Best documentaries

David Byrne’s American Utopia
Dir. Spike Lee
It is not surprising the year’s most joyous concert film was masterminded by the architects of two of the all-time best: David Byrne (Stop Making Sense) and Spike Lee (Passing Strange). American Utopia superbly chronicles the former Talking Heads frontman’s dazzling Broadway show, bringing together vivid performances and sharp political protest — but the kind you can dance to. Contact: Universal Pictures
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City Hall
Dir. Frederick Wiseman
What does a metropolitan government look like from the inside? Wiseman’s four-and-a-half-hour tour of Boston’s offers a riveting glimpse at the impassioned individuals striving to tame a bureaucracy.
Contact: The Party Film Sales
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Boys State
Dirs. Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine
A gripping portrait of masculinity and burgeoning political animals, Boys State documents a thousand teenage boys at a retreat who are tasked with creating their own government from scratch. Contact: Apple TV+/A24
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Performance of the year

Jasmine Batchelor in The Surrogate
Dir. Jeremy Hersh
This little-seen character study about Jess, a twenty-something who elects to be the surrogate for a same-sex couple she adores, is powered by Batchelor’s emotionally jagged central performance. After an upsetting prenatal test result, Jess finds herself at odds with the couple, and Batchelor marvellously navigates the character’s volcanic quarter-life crisis. Contact: Monument Releasing