Sight & Sound's Best Films
Unmissable films from an essential source: the world’s wisest film magazine, whose annual list sets the standard.
Selected from the last three years, the wayward and the glorious meet here, and invite you in.
Thriller2019104 minsDirector: Brandon Cronenberg
In the near future, a cool and ruthless assassin who uses other people’s bodies to carry out execution-style killings comes unstuck when her latest vehicle resists.
Drama2019118 minsDirector: Shannon Murphy
Seriously ill Milla (Eliza Scanlen) clashes with her parents, who disapprove when she brings home her sketchy new boyfriend Toby, in this tragicomic debut from Shannon Murphy.
Drama2017127 minsDirector: Andrey Zvyagintsev
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Elena, Leviathan) delivers a masterpiece in this caustic look at contemporary Russian society, a failed marriage and the disappearance of a child. A major prize winner at both Cannes and BFI London Film Festival.
Drama2019120 minsDirector: Armando Iannucci
Armando Iannucci brings David Copperfield fizzing to life with all-star collaborators in this exuberant, entertaining and sharply pertinent adaptation.
Drama2019112 minsDirector: Chinonye Chukwu
Alfre Woodard is quietly devastating as a weary prison warden presiding over her twelfth execution, in this Sundance-winning death row drama.
Documentary2019109 minsDirector: Alexander Nanau
When burn patients begin dying from non-life-threatening injuries a group of investigative journalists uncover a vast healthcare scandal, in this gripping Romanian documentary.
Drama2017115 minsDirector: Lucrecia Martel
Argentinian director Lucrecia Martel returns with a fine adaptation of Antonio Di Benedetto’s existential novel. In her first feature since 2008’s The Headless Woman, Martel creates a richly layered exploration of personal malaise.
Drama2017112 minsDirector: Sean Baker
Tangerine director Sean Baker presents another visionary take on the wild ups and dangerous downs of life in America’s underbelly, featuring an Oscar-nominated turn from Willem Dafoe.
Drama2017121 minsDirector: Valeska Grisebach
Masculine tensions reaching boiling point in this sizzling, brilliantly observed neo-western, where migrant German construction workers are pitched against villagers in remotest Bulgaria.
Comedy2016118 minsDirector: Jim Jarmusch
Adam Driver excels in this effortlessly charming tale of a bus driver poet in New Jersey, filmed with typically groovy elan by Jim Jarmusch.
Drama202089 minsDirector: Bassam Tariq
Bassam Tariq’s visceral directorial debut, co-written with Riz Ahmed, finds a British-Pakistani rapper’s life spiralling out of control when, on the cusp of success, he succumbs to a debilitating illness.
Drama201795 minsDirector: Dan Kokotajlo
A deeply religious family must decide whether to stick by their relation or abandon her, in this striking debut from Daniel Kokotajlo - a prizewinner at BFI London Film Festival 2017.
Thriller201790 minsDirector: Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay journeys with Joaquin Phoenix into the mind of an ex-soldier gun-for-hire whose own demons are as brutal as the actions of his adversaries.
Drama2016161 minsDirector: Martin Scorsese
Scorsese’s epic meditation on spiritual strength, with Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as missionaries on the search for their missing mentor.
Documentary201694 minsDirector: Raoul Peck
Raoul Peck’s penetrating and acclaimed documentary reconstructs an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin, chronicler of America’s Civil Rights Movement.
Drama2015131 minsDirector: Paul Verhoeven
Isabelle Huppert gives an unforgettable performance in Paul Verhoeven’s provocative thriller about one woman’s response to a violent attack.
Drama2016137 minsDirector: Kenneth Lonergan
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams shine in this devastating, Oscar-winning drama from Kenneth Lonergan about a man’s painful hometown return.
Drama2016100 minsDirector: Ken Loach
Ken Loach’s powerful, Palme d’Or-winning invective against welfare injustice captured the mood of modern Britain and became his biggest box office success.
Drama201792 minsDirector: David Lowery
David Lowery's haunting exploration of love and loss, with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck is a high-point of recent independent American cinema.
Drama2016111 minsDirector: Barry Jenkins
Winner of the 2017 Oscar for Best Picture (eventually!), Barry Jenkins’ intoxicating drama follows the furtive life of a gay black boy through 80s Miami.
Comedy201693 minsDirector: Whit Stillman
Whit Stillman crosses the Atlantic for this irresistible Jane Austen adaptation, following the delicious and devious exploits of Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale).
Action and Adventure2015124 minsDirector: Ciro Guerra
The spirit of Werner Herzog and Apocalypse Now imbue this majestic Oscar-nominated odyssey through the heart of the Amazon.
Action and Adventure2015106 minsDirector: Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s mesmerising, visually stunning tale of love and honour was Sight and Sound magazine’s best film of 2015.
Crime2016102 minsDirector: David Mackenzie
Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine star in David Mackenzie’s acclaimed crime drama about two brothers who rob the banks that seized their ranch, and the sheriff on their heels.
Musical2016128 minsDirector: Damien Chazelle
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone channel old-school Hollywood glamour in this bright and playful romantic musical from director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).
Drama201495 minsDirector: Andrew Haigh
One of the most acclaimed British features of recent years, starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as a couple rocked by news from the past.
Biopic2016110 minsDirector: Pablo Larraín
Pablo Larraín's bold, inventive detective thriller offers an electrifying contemplation of the Chilean poet's life on the run in the late 1940s.
Documentary2015118 minsDirector: Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman’s rigorously observational portrait of her late mother takes on a whole new significance in the wake of the director’s own premature passing.
Drama201498 minsDirector: Christian Petzold
Nina Hoss is superb as concentration camp survivor who assumes a new identity, in Christian Petzold’s intricate post-WWII thriller.
Drama2015120 minsDirector: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s imaginative, sensuous and enigmatic film about soldiers suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness.
Drama201588 minsDirector: Sean Baker
A big-hearted film shot on a small phone, this LA tale of two transgender working girls out for vengeance fizzes with wild energy.
Drama2014132 minsDirector: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
A new arrival at a school for young deaf people is drawn into a nightmarish world of crime and brutality, in this audacious and acclaimed modern classic told in unsubtitled sign.
Horror2013108 minsDirector: Jonathan Glazer
An alien Scarlett Johansson prowls the streets of Glasgow in Jonathan Glazer’s astonishing, mind-bending mixture of existential sci-fi and inner-city realism.
Drama2015107 minsDirector: László Nemes
A devastating portrait of life in a concentration camp from the perspective of a Sonderkommando; winner of Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prix.
Drama201495 minsDirector: Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Academy Award-winner Marion Cotillard’s collaboration with Cannes Festival-favourites Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is a stunning, tense drama about a woman’s race against time to save her job.
Drama2014117 minsDirector: Richard Linklater
A gang of wild college jocks enjoy three days of freewheeling fun before school starts, in Richard Linklater’s ‘spiritual sequel’ to Boyhood and Dazed and Confused.
Drama201482 minsDirector: Pawel Pawlikowski
The Best Film winner at the 2013 BFI London Film Festival is an exquisitely shot, moving drama about a Polish nun exploring her family past, from UK-based director Pawel Pawlikowski.
Drama2017143 minsDirector: Robin Campillo
Pulsating with life and pounding with urgency, Robin Campillo’s extraordinary account of 1990s AIDS activism is a rousing, sensual and heart-breaking celebration of personal and political resistance.
Drama2014104 minsDirector: Peter Strickland
Peter Strickland’s visually and aurally intoxicating tale of sadomasochistic power-play is a daringly erotic sensory feast.
Documentary2014181 minsDirector: Frederick Wiseman
The inner workings of London’s National Gallery are laid bare in this absorbing, forensic examination by revered filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.
Drama201470 minsDirector: Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard’s typically innovative and playful meditation on technology, love and language was acclaimed one of the best films of 2014.