Director Uruphong Raksasad Won UNESCO Award (Asia Pacific Screen Awards) Plot A rural farmer loses his job, forcing him to look for work in the big city Beauty Shots Cinematographer Uruphong Raksasad's lingering takes of rural landscape and gorgeous sunsets Extreme Gastronomy Insects? Check. Dogs? Check. Snakes? Double check.
In the Loop (UK)
Director Armando Iannucci Won Best Screenplay (New York Film Critics Circle Awards) Plot A fictionalized version of events that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq Golden Line "You sure you're working as hard as I am? I'm sweating spinal fluid here!" What's the 411? The role of Malcolm Tucker, sharp tongue and all, is allegedly based on Tony Blair's former director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell. Scene Stealer Peter Capaldi. 'Nuff said.
Mother (South Korea)
Director Joon-ho Bong Won Best Actress (Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards) Plot A whodunit crime flick involving a mentally unstable young man and his stubborn, iron-willed mother Indelible Scene Actress Hye-ja Kim's surprise dance sequence. She's no John Travolta, but she definitely has the moves down pat.
Eyes Wide Open (Israel)
Director Haim Tabakman Won Grand Prix (Ghent International Film Festival) Plot A Jewish man's affair with a young male drifter results in social estrangement and isolation. Essential Actors Ran Danker is the perfect foil to Zohar Shtrauss. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain don't even measure up.
The Breath (Turkey)
Director Levent Semerci Won Best Film (Yeşilçam Awards) Plot A small group of dedicated soldiers defends a relay station against terrorists. What's the 411? The film is based on the 1992 PKK terrorist attack. Twenty-two soldiers died.
Director Duncan Jones Won Outstanding Debut by a British Director (BAFTA Awards) Plot A family man yearns for home after being stationed in the Moon for three straight years. Indelible Scene Sam Rockwell dancing. Forget Travolta. When it comes to swing-till-you-drop moves, Sam's the man.
A Serious Man (USA)
Directors Ethan Coen and Joel Coen Won Best Original Screenplay (National Board of Review) Plot A Jewish man's faith in God and in himself is tested as his professional and domestic life go down the drain. Essential Actor A Serious Man wouldn't be as good as it is without theater pro Michael Stuhlbarg. .
Director Auraeus Solito Plot A young boy falls for a male hustler. Essential Scene On New Year's eve, Aeious goes to bed with Aries. Afterwards, his mother bangs on his door and shouts,"Bilisan niyo! Putukan na!" What's the 411? Although invited to compete in the Silver Screen Awards, the film was banned by Singapore's Board of Film Censors (BFC). Surprise, surprise.
The Limits of Control (USA)
Director Jim Jarmusch Plot A solitary assassin tracks his target, following leads from strangers prone to discussing philosophy, cinema and the metaphysical. Essential Actor Isaach De Bankolé's face is a landscape of restraint and immobility. Sheer brilliance. Beauty Shots Every scene, every angle is achingly beautiful. Kudos to Cinematographer Christopher Doyle.