Variety Critics’ Choice 

  • Animals Zvířata / Tiere
    Directed by: Greg Zglinski
    Switzerland, Austria, Poland, 2017, 95 min

    Director Greg Zglinski’s espresso-dark humor and icy formal precision may nod to such experts as David Lynch and Lars von Trier, but Animals gleefully cultivates its very own kind of crazy in this unhinged adult fairy tale about a bourgeois Viennese couple attempting a restorative Alpine getaway.

  • Columbus Columbus / Columbus
    Directed by: Kogonada
    USA, 2017, 104 min

    In this unconventional, hypnotically paced American drama, set amid the modernist structures of Columbus, Indiana, critic-turned-director Kogonada is less interested in romance than in the characters’ overlapping and divergent worldviews and dreams, based on culture, environment and upbringing.

  • The Distinguished Citizen Vážený občan / El ciudadano ilustre
    Directed by: Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat
    Spain, Argentina, 2016, 117 min

    Five years after winning the Nobel prize, novelist Daniel Mantovani (Oscar Martínez) gets an invitation to receive an award from his hometown. It’s been 40 years since he’s been back, despite using the city as the setting for all his stories, and his return provides both humor and poignant insights.

  • God’s Own Country Na konci světa / God’s Own Country
    Directed by: Francis Lee
    United Kingdom, 2017, 104 min

    Skipping some of the more predictable clichés we’ve come to expect from the coming-out drama, Francis Lee’s sexy, thoughtful, hopeful film — about romance between an English farmboy and a Romanian migrant worker — advances a pro-immigration subtext that couldn’t be more timely in Brexit-era Britain.

  • Heal the Living Život za život / Réparer les vivants
    Directed by: Katell Quillévéré
    France, Belgium, 2016, 104 min

    What sounds like a routine episode of “ER” is complicated with rare depths of personal and sensual detail in French director Katell Quillévéré’s sublimely compassionate, heart-crushing heart-transplant ensemble, which boasts beautifully pitched performances from Tahar Rahim and Emmanuelle Seigner.

  • Hounds of Love Hounds of Love / Hounds of Love
    Directed by: Ben Young
    Australia, 2016, 108 min

    An outwardly normal suburban couple who abduct, torture and murder schoolgirls must face their funny games in this genre-bending Australian thriller. Brave audiences will be rewarded, if that’s the word, with a harrowing ride that morphs from sharp horror to probing character study and back again.

  • Lost in Paris Ztraceni v Paříži / Paris pieds nus
    Directed by: Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
    France, Belgium, 2016, 82 min

    In this wonderfully inventive outing from burlesque comedians Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon, she plays a shy librarian looking all over Paris for her missing Aunt Martha (the final role of Amour star Emmanuelle Riva), while he plays a harmless hobo who pops up practically everywhere she goes.

  • Merry Christmas Mr. Mo Veselé Vánoce, pane Mo / Merry Christmas Mr. Mo
    Directed by: Lim Dae-hyung
    South Korea, 2016, 101 min

    A droll comic drama filmed in glorious widescreen black-and-white, this lovely tale follows a terminally ill barber (Gi Ju-bong) whose dying wish is to make a short film directed by his distant son. The offbeat crowd-pleaser will move many viewers to tears by the time Mr. Mo’s task is completed.

  • Strawberry Days Země jahod / Jordgubbslandet
    Directed by: Wiktor Ericsson
    Sweden, 2016, 93 min

    Every summer, Polish workers come to the Swedish countryside to pick strawberries, trying to keep as low a profile as possible. But this year is different as one of the foreign fruit-pickers’ kids is old enough to take an interest in the host family’s daughter, complicating the entire arrangement.

  • Those Who Make Revolutions Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves Kdo dělá revoluci napolovic, ten si jen kope hrob / Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau
    Directed by: Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie
    Canada, 2016, 183 min

    Inspired by the student demonstrations that sparked 2012’s Maple Spring, co-directors Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie apply the language of radical cinema to a tense, mournful and profoundly ambivalent portrait of four far-left activists who commit acts of vandalism and terror against the system.


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