Allan Hunter has worked for Screen since 1990. He is based in Edinburgh and is co-director of Glasgow Film Festival. Read our other critics’ top tens here.

Drive My Car

Source: The Match Factory

‘Drive My Car’

Top tens

1. Drive My Car
Dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Hamaguchi’s haunting adaptation elevates a short story by Haruki Murakami into an epic, intricately woven reflection on love and death, loss and regret. It is a melancholy film full of intriguing contradictions in which words matter but important things often remain unsaid. Hidetoshi Nishijima is superb as an actor/director whose multilingual production of Uncle Vanya becomes a way of exploring how the very act of creation helps to amplify, illuminate and explain us to ourselves and to others. It keeps growing in the memory, a rich feast of a film that is also about the power of story­telling and the way unexpected friendships bring light into some of the darkest times of our lives. Appearing in the same year as Hamaguchi’s Wheel Of Fortune And Fantasy, this confirms the director’s place as an exciting figure in world cinema.
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2. Petite Maman
Dir. Céline Sciamma
It is the delicacy of touch and depth of feeling Sciamma brings to Petite Maman that makes it such a rare heartwarmer. A little girl’s response to the death of her beloved grandmother becomes a comforting fairy tale on the bond between generations, the circle of life and the way we experience loss. It is a film that can’t help but enchant.
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3. The Power Of The Dog
Dir. Jane Campion
Campion’s exploration of toxic masculinity and suppressed desire is exquisitely crafted and finely balanced between stark, expansive landscapes and brutal internal conflict. This is a brooding, flinty 1920s-set western in which everyone is at the mercy of values embedded in the culture and the times. Campion also draws out the best from a well-cast ensemble and an intense Benedict Cumberbatch impresses in a role that might once have been tailor-made for Robert Mitchum.
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4. The Souvenir: Part II
Dir. Joanna Hogg
Hogg’s dazzling, semi-autobiographical drama is a hindsight reflection on her younger self as well as a postscript to — and consideration of — the first film, capturing her formative years as an aspiring filmmaker. This is intensely personal, beautifully composed kaleidoscopic filmmaking but realised with a daring, ambition and wit that opens it up to everyone.
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5. La Civil
Dir. Teodora Mihai
A blistering thriller where a mother’s determination to know the fate of her kidnapped daughter shines a light on a Mexico defined by a culture of violence. This nuanced tale finds the shades of grey in a nightmare scenario but still maintains a constant grip, and is expertly served by Arcelia Ramirez’s performance.
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6. Great Freedom
Dir. Sebastian Meise
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7. Belfast
Dir. Kenneth Branagh
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8. Maixabel
Dir. Iciar Bollain
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9. The Lost Daughter
Dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal
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10. Hive
Dir. Blerta Basholli
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Best documentaries

1. Flee
Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
The story of the trauma suffered by an Afghan man forced to flee his homeland in the 1990s is deeply moving in its own right. But it is the imaginative approach, the inspired use of animation and the sensitivity of director Rasmussen that makes Flee so memorable. An audacious feat of storytelling that impresses on both a technical and an emotional level.
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2. Mr Bachmann And His Class
Dir. Maria Speth
An inspirational portrait of a school teacher that uses its three-hour-plus running time to immerse us in the classroom and show the difference one individual can make. A warm hug of a film in which the running time feels fully justified. 
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3. Returning To Reims
Dir. Jean-Gabriel Périot
One family history vividly evokes the shifting currents in working-class French life over the past 70 years. The mosaic of archive footage and memory is densely packed and deeply felt in a film that laments the failures of the past but cheers the resurgence of people power.
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Performance of the year 

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter (dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Colman is on beguiling form in Gyllenhaal’s directing debut The Lost Daughter. She is an inveterate scene-stealer in secondary roles but it is a pleasure to watch her throughout as she carries the emotional weight of the film. Her prickly academic Leda is often far from sympathetic, but there are moments when the tender ache or lingering hurt in her eyes renders dialogue unnecessary. Floored by a fresh wave of emotion, it feels as if her body visibly crumbles before us and her face ages. It is a subtle, finely etched performance filled with vulnerability.
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