Ide joined Screen in 2015 as a UK-based critic, and also writes for The Observer and Sight & Sound. Read our other critics’ top tens here.

nomadland new

Source: Searchlight Pictures


Top ten

1. Nomadland
Dir. Chloé Zhao
Zhao’s remarkable cross-country odyssey doesn’t just see the rootless wanderers who find themselves relegated to America’s new periphery — it hears them too. One of the most arresting qualities of Frances McDormand’s remarkable and generous central performance as Fern is that while crafting a character of rare complexity and depth, she also acts as the conduit through which we learn about everyone she encounters. It is a picture that takes a lyrical approach rather than a polemical one — Zhao’s use of glowing magic-hour light brings at times an almost romantic quality. But for all its pensive poetry, this is a damning indictment of the gig economy and of a society without a safety net. Contact: Searchlight Pictures
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2. The Assistant
Dir. Kitty Green
The buttoned-up economy of Green’s laser-focused portrait of workplace toxicity gives this film its insidious power — that, and a remarkable central performance from Julia Garner as the lowly assistant to a Weinstein-like mogul. The boss is never seen, but Green uses his absence brilliantly. He is like a black hole of malice that consumes everything. Contact: Protagonist Pictures
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3. Kala Azar
Dir. Janis Rafa
A film named after a pandemic is a tough sell this year, even when the disease is one that affects dogs rather than humans. But visual artist Rafa’s directorial debut, about a couple who collect deceased animals for a pet cremation service, is remarkable — a visceral and original piece of work that feels almost feral in its approach to storytelling. Contact: Heretic Outreach
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4. Limbo
Dir. Ben Sharrock
Asylum seekers waiting for decisions pending on their applications are lodged on a small Scottish island in Sharrock’s superb second feature. This is a tonal triumph, a film that juggles heartbreaking pathos with absurdist humour. At the heart of the story is a friendship between Omar, a promising musician from Syria, and Farhad, an Afghan who is a fan of Freddie Mercury and chickens. Contact: Protagonist Pictures
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5. Wolfwalkers
Dirs. Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
The third film in the Irish trilogy from Moore and Cartoon Saloon, Wolfwalkers is a thing of beauty. It weaves together Celtic graphic influences with 20th-century modernism, capturing a spirit of disruption and rebellion that is both ancient and bracingly timely. The use of music is a soul-soaring delight and the voicework (Honor Kneafsey, Eva Whittaker and Sean Bean among others) crackles with personality. Contact: Apple TV+
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6. Apples
Dir. Christos Nikou
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7. Mangrove
Dir. Steve McQueen 
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8. Sweat
Dir. Magnus von Horn 
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9. Soul
Dirs. Pete Docter, Kemp Powers 
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10. The Cloud In Her Room
Dir. Zheng Lu Xinyuan
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Best documentaries

The Truffle Hunters
Dirs. Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw
This idiosyncratic fly-on-the-wall portrait of the elderly men and their dogs who seek northern Italy’s precious fungi is a balm of a film. Like Honeyland before it, The Truffle Hunters takes time to fully draw its characters, embracing a rhythm and a rooted connection to the natural world, which feels both archaic and utterly beguiling. Contact: Sony Pictures Classics
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Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets
Dirs. Bill Ross IV, Turner Ross
This riotous, unexpectedly moving film blends fact and fiction with liquor, beer and class-A drugs, inviting the audience to kick back for the final night of a closing dive bar. Contact: Cinephil
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Il Mio Corpo
Dir. Michele Pennetta
The lives of two young men — one Italian, one a Nigerian immigrant — are threaded together as they eke out an existence in Sicily, in this striking observational film. Contact: Sweet Spot Docs
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Performance of the year

Magdalena Kolesnik in Sweat (dir. Magnus von Horn)
It comes as no surprise to learn Kolesnik lived with her character Sylwia, a fitness influencer, for an extended period of preparation before the film shot. She fully inhabits the role, delivering a physically committed, deceptively complex performance. Contact New Europe Film Sales 
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Special mention: I loved the perverse symbiosis of Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott in Possessor.