1) Toni Erdmann (dir. Maren Ade)
Ines: Capitalism Eats the Soul, or just a really good comedy about family? Ade doesn’t shy away from showing the economical climate Ines’s line of work creates, but the humanity slowly bubbling up inside her as a result from her father’s unwelcome presence leads to what may easily end up being the most euphoric scene of the decade: a cordial hug that for a brief moment quells all the emotional and political baggage in the world.
2) Elle (dir. Paul Verhoeven)
This unflinching excavation of the psychological effects rape has on Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert at her formidable best) is a densely packed tome on gender, sex and deviant introspection. It’s also really funny.
3) Personal Shopper (dir. Oliver Assayas)
Finding refuge from grief meets millennial malaise, all from the abstracted outside of Kristen Stewart (Maureen) who exists only on the periphery of the affluent and glamorous milieu she inhabits as a personal shopper. Temporarily, Maureen can adorn the role of a glamorous young thing by wearing the garments she’s picking up for others, but this only serves as a temporary distraction from the grief of losing her twin brother. Maureen faces the void and goes on to play a ghostly game, but is it reality or more crafted distraction?
4) A Bridge for Rip Van Winkle (dir. Shunji Iwai)
Acquiescing to unfulfillment and loneliness in order to meet a societal role, Nanami endures an unbearably cruel life but before reaching a personal nadir. With a little help from some new friends(?) she unshackles the fickleness of identity and blooms into a woman who wears transcendent cinema on her shoulders with pride.
5) Nocturama (dir. Bertrand Bonello)
6) Aquarius (dir. Kleber Mendonça Filho)
The titular apartment complex works as a bastion for Carla’s (Sônia Braga) tale of survival, her strength used also as a front for Filho’s caustic takedown of inequity, corruption and lies. Powerful and hypnotic like the nearby crashing waves, Aquarius is understated revenge at its most rewarding.
7) Fire at Sea (dir. Gianfranco Rosi)
8) Certain Women (dir. Kelly Reichardt)
9) Paterson (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
10) Things to Come (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve)