TONI ERDMANN ★★★★★
D: Maren Ade (Everyone Else).
S: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanov, Victoria Cocias.
THE GODFATHER of comedies. Outdoes LE DÎNER DES CONS - more wide-ranging and more focused, plus a deeply emotional climax.
LA LA LAND ★★★★★
D: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench).
S: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt.
As if Alfonso Cuarón made a musical. Has its cake and eats it. Does the ultra rare: a film for cynics and the sentimental.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA ★★★★★
D: Kenneth Lonergan (Margaret, You Can Count On Me).
S: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Gretchen Mol, Matthew Broderick.
3 for 3 masterworks from Lonergan. Drama for the ages. The juxtaposition of scenes wows, as does the dialogue and Affleck's acting.
THE SECRET SCRIPTURE ★★☆☆☆
D: Jim Sheridan (Dream House, Brothers, In America, The Boxer, In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot).
S: Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara, Theo James, Eric Bana, Jack Reynor.
Artless non-stop misery. Leaden dialogue. Pedestrian looking. Is no PHILOMENA.
D: Daouda Coulibaly.
S: Quim Gutiérrez, Dembele Habib, Ndiaye Ismaël.
What a directorial debut! A Malian SICARIO. Tense, political, while not forgetting to give the protagonist gravitas.