Fionnuala is Screen International‘s chief film critic and reviews editor. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a film writer and critic.

Finn Halligan

More Screen critics’ top films of 2016

Top five 


  1. Moonlight
    Barry Jenkins
    Jenkins’ tender yet terrifying story takes place on the drug-ravaged streets of 1980s Miami — an unforgiving climate for a young, gay black man. Elevated by three strong lead performances and Naomie Harris in tough support, this is an eloquent, shimmering film about a fragile young boy who is still present in the damaged man he becomes. Jenkins directs with humanity, while making daring choices as an artist.

  2. Manchester By The Sea
    Kenneth Lonergan
    Lonergan carefully unwraps a story of monumental heartbreak and it just crackles from beginning to end. Casey Affleck is devastating.
    CONTACT Sierra/Affinity

  3. Elle
    Paul Verhoeven
    A female empowerment fantasy, a rape-revenge thriller; enormously — compulsively — entertaining. And has Huppert ever been better?
    CONTACT SBS International
  4. American Honey
    Andrea Arnold
    Arnold has a singular voice; this propulsive drive along America’s poverty line offers uncomfortable insights and enduring moments. 
    CONTACT Protagonist Pictures
  5. Toni Erdmann
    Maren Ade
    Unexpectedly funny but with a powerful voice behind the laughs, featuring a knockout performance from Sandra Hüller.
    CONTACT The Match Factory

Best documentary

OJ: Made in America

OJ: Made In America
Ezra Edelman

This is documentary film-making par excellence. Edelman sets the OJ Simpson case in the roiling sea of racial politics at its combustive intersection with celebrity culture, telling this extraordinary story with care and unparalleled craft. Editing is monumental. Never less than compulsive viewing over its 476 minutes, this is ground-breaking work.


Undiscovered gem 

A Date For Mad Mary

A Date For Mad Mary
Darren Thornton

This big-hearted Irish romcom, which shared the top prize at Galway this summer, has all the smarts to hit with younger audiences should it get the chance. Just released from prison, surly, boozy Mary pines for her bridezilla BFF who has moved on. Now she needs a date for the wedding and rarely has someone looked for love with less interest. Thornton directs a scuzzily radiant Seana Kerslake as the miserably mad Mary, wildly unpredictable and widely misunderstood, in a film that feels like the love child of Weekend and Once.

CONTACT Mongrel International