Best existential ‘80s-tribute horror film:
If you haven’t yet caught this modern classic horror film, do it now – it’ll be disappearing soon. It Follows concerns a supernatural illness that plagues sexually active teenagers. It’s shot with brooding clarity, the retro electronic score is simple and menacing and the young cast members are more like awkward lost children of ’80s teen horror flicks than the uber-confident underwear models we’ve seen of late. It all adds up to a genuinely unsettling feeling that there is no escape. The understated realism is refreshing, and actually scary.
Best documentary that will upset Tom Cruise:
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
For decades, the Church of Scientology has had huge influence over some of America’s most powerful people. You’ve heard tales of some strange practices behind the religion, but Going Clear goes one further and alleges violence, abuse and corruption that goes right to the top of the secretive organisation. It’s a fascinating subject and a well-put-together film which, like the best documentaries, shines a light on one of the darker corners of the human experience.
Palace Como, Palace Kino and Cinema Nova
Best stealth-feminist sci-fi film:
The new film from director Alex Garland (writer of The Beach, writer of the screenplay for Never Let Me Go and Dredd), about a billionaire tech genius who creates an artificially intelligent robot girl, could have been a casually misogynistic sci-fi mess. Instead, it takes on the ethics of cloning and artificial intelligence with wit and panache. The result is an engaging moral thriller. There’s no big Hollywood star power here, and no clichéd action posturing – just the competing egos of two men, and the dawning consciousness of the woman who is caught in the middle.
Cinema Nova and Sun Yarraville
Best insight into real life in Reykjavik.
Life in a Fish Bowl
Winner of Best Film, Actor, Actress, Director and seven more statues at the Edda (Icelandic Academy) Awards, this Icelandic drama is a naturalistic portrait of everyday life in Reykjavik on the eve of the country’s 2008 economic meltdown. It touched a nerve on home turf and became one of the country’s biggest-ever domestic hits.
Scandinavian Film Festival, Palace Cinema Como
Best girls’-school mystery for grown-ups:
This new British film owes more than a little to Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock, as we discovered when we spoke to director Carol Morley last week. And like Picnic, it’s about the pain of adolescence disguised as the paranormal. Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams takes the lead in this story of a mysterious epidemic of fainting spells that affects dozens of students at a prim and proper girls’ school, baffling teachers and doctors alike.