I'm always looking for movies that tackle tough artistic, political and gender questions. Here's what caught my eye this year.
This visually sumptuous portrait of the painter J.M.W. Turner at the peak of his powers features Timothy Spall in the title role – also at the peak of his powers.
Sure, it could also be called Motherhood, but this mesmerizing cinematic experiment dazzles as it gives small human moments huge resonance.
Dolan’s story of a mother and her troubled son – boasting a gifted cast – is so emotionally powerful, it’ll leave you shaking. Dolan is the best filmmaker working in Canada today.
A novitiate nun in 60s Communist Poland discovers she has Jewish roots. A stunning meditation on culture clashes of all kinds.
Girl power rules when three fearless tweens – played by fabulously charismatic actors – form a punk band, flipping out their parents and just about everybody around them.
Benedict Cumberbatch is superb as Second World War Enigma decoder Alan Turing in a stirring, old-fashioned movie that mixes triumph and tragedy.
Paul Thomas Anderson
The cops hate the hippies, and drug dealers are taking over both realms in this exhilarating mess of a movie.
Nick Fenton, Peter Strickland
To pop genius Björk‘s mind-boggling mashup of unsettling atmospherics, dark melody and electronica, Fenton and Strickland add psychedelic and CSI-type representations of nature in action to concoct a spectacular live-show doc.
This tender tale featuring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a gay couple forced to sell their apartment and live separately. This small gem won’t have you on the edge of your seat, but it’s still totally irresistible.
Wala’s doc probes how Canada’s feds used so-called security certificates to imprison suspected terrorists after 9/11 – without showing them evidence or charging them with a crime. Look out: those security certificates are coming back after the attack on Parliament Hill.
NYMPHOMANIAC It was appalling enough that Lars von Trier delivered a misogynist and wholly unerotic wank, but in two parts, totalling four hours? Ridiculous.
SERENA She may have directed it, but don’t mistake this snoozefest for an authentic Susanne Bier pic, if only because she didn’t write it. Wait for her great TIFF 2014 entry, A Second Chance, which should open in 2015.