The Second Month
Best Film: Lore. Many good films, but Cate Shortland’s World War II drama is easily the best of the lot. A great movie.
Best Director: Gillo Pontecorvo (Battle of Algiers) — very narrowly over Cate Shortland (Lore). Could also have chosen Carl Theodor Dreyer for The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is brilliant but compromised by a narrow narrative vision. Pontecorvo’s accomplishments in Battle of Algiers are significant, both technically and in terms of moral and intellectual balance.
Best Script: Cate Shortland and Robin Mukherjee (Lore), from a novel by Rachel Seiffert. No contest here — beautiful characterization, structure, and moral subtlety.
Best Performance: Maria Falconetti (The Passion of Joan of Arc). As emotionally direct as any performance I’ve ever seen. Several strong runners-up, particularly Klaus Kinski for the manic intensity that he brings to Fitzcorraldo. Credit also to Joseph Wairimu (Nairobi Half Life) and Saskia Rosendahl as the title character in Lore.
Best Moment: The conclusion of Lore. Three short scenes, perfectly set up, that express Lore’s moral evolution without speeches or grand gestures.
Best Use of Visuals or Technique: The execution sequence in The Passion of Joan of Arc. A tour de force of technique, but it isn’t empty showmanship — to achieve such profound emotional impact would be an accomplishment in any film, but to do it without sound is astonishing.
Biggest Surprises: Pieta. Other people, including smart critics, think that it’s probing and viscerally powerful and things like that. I thought it was awful. And I can’t talk about the last month of films without mentioning The Turin Horse, which aroused the longest commentary I’ve written so far. I think it’s a deeply flawed movie, but the vision is unique, and I certainly won’t forget it.