Superb form ... Nicole Kidman in <i>The Paperboy</i>.

Superb form ... Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy.

The best films

ALL IS LOST
Still to open in theatres in the new year, Robert Redford plays a lone sailor whose boat sinks across the film's two-hour running time. Not wanting to blink in case I missed something important gave me sanpaku eyes. Jaw-dropping. Cris

BEFORE MIDNIGHT
A priceless piece of cinema that explores the awkward, difficult places in human relationships that are rarely articulated. Astonishing, generous performances from Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke. It forms a great triptych with the two earlier chapters of this trans-Atlantic romance, Before Sunset and Before Sunrise. Jane

Fairytale on steroids ... Nicholas Hoult in <i>Jack the Giant Slayer</i>.

Fairytale on steroids ... Nicholas Hoult in Jack the Giant Slayer.

FINAL CUT: LADIES & GENTLEMEN
An extraordinary feat of editing and a tribute to the power of narrative structure, this movie was created from snippets of over 450 other films. Find it. Simon

THE HUNT
There are few films that so exquisitely combine the chilling tension of a thriller and the depth of a character study with cinematic beauty and a penetrating examination of society. Mads Mikkelsen is extraordinary in this tale of a man accused of sex offences in Denmark. Simon

IN THE HOUSE
A disturbing study of the effect that a beautiful and talented young person can have on the adults around them. Taking a break from director Francois Ozon's fascination with ageing beauties, it looks at the potential for much to come undone through the manipulations of a youthful charmer. Jane

Not art, but funny .. Paul Fenech wearing glasses is actor and director of <i>Housos vs Authority</i>, with fellow cast members Jason Davis and Elle Dawe.

Not art, but funny .. Paul Fenech wearing glasses is actor and director of Housos vs Authority, with fellow cast members Jason Davis and Elle Dawe. Photo: Ben Rushton

MYSTERY ROAD
Indigenous Aussie filmmaker Ivan Sen jumps from genre to genre. This time it's a cop movie, or perhaps a western. However you define it, a great film with a performance from Aaron Pedersen that was criminally overlooked in this year's AACTA Award nominations. What are the AACTA Awards you ask? Good question. Cris

MUD
From a talented young Texan filmmaker, Jeff Nichols, comes another of tale of the deep south. This boyhood adventure on the banks of the Mississippi is a powerful evocation of how it feels to enter the dangerous world of adults. Jane

NO
The power of marketing has never been better portrayed than in this real-life tale of the advertising team whose campaign helped remove dictator Augusto Pinochet from power in Chile in 1988. Shot to match the U-Matic television ads they produced at the time, this was clever filmmaking. Cris

Jaw-dropping ... <i>All is Lost</i>, starring Robert Redford.

Jaw-dropping ... All is Lost, starring Robert Redford. Photo: Richard Foreman

THE PAPERBOY
Towards the end of this film, Nicole Kidman - in superb form as Southern white trash - says: ''I wanna go live in the swamp.'' Hell, yeah! This whole movie is a swamp, a seething, messy murder investigation infused with the sweaty smell of bodies and driven by a casual force that is seductively unstable, darkly funny and strangely exhilarating. Simon

RUST & BONE
A confronting and bone-crunching story of unlikely lovers, with fearless performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Simon

THE TURNING
A glorious achievement based on Tim Winton's book of the same name that brings the page to the screen in as many different ways as there are directors, and actors turned directors. A meditation on growing up in Australia, the way that it perhaps used to be. Jane

STORIES WE TELL
A young filmmaker turns the camera on her own family, in particular the mystery of her paternity and the mother who died with this secret. Each of the characters reveal their vulnerability, as this complex and delicately layered documentary becomes compelling viewing. Jane

The worst films

BROKEN CITY
A broken movie, with top-class actors like Russell Crowe and Mark Wahlberg struggling to make something of its implausible plot and ludicrous characters. A crime thriller with a dash of politics, it's full of cliches, with incomplete subplots and incoherent motivations - a disappointing tale of town hall corruption posing as gritty noir. Simon

THE FAMILY
The onset of humourless and mindless violence flattens this comedy to a standstill, crushing whatever charm the cast attempt to bring to proceedings. Simon

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
A confused treatment of the Grimm Brothers' cautionary tale. The lead actors are serious and bored despite all the jumping, shooting and punching. Simon

THE HOST
Yet another big-budget movie based on the writing of Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). A high concept with low achievement and some unintentional laughs. Despite good actors like Saoirse Ronan and Diane Kruger, it's a major miscalculation by studios who don't know a good story from a successful business formula. Jane

HOUSOS VS. AUTHORITY
About as lowbrow as Aussie comedy gets without actually dragging its knuckles on the ground. I laughed throughout, and I applaud Pauly Fenech and his team, but this was not art in any way, shape or form. Cris

IDENTITY THIEF
A poor excuse for a comedy with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy mismatched buddies locked together by an identity scam. Nothing wrong with the idea, but an awful script that tries to latch onto the ''fat girl'' fad. Jane

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE
Steve Carell looks interesting in sequins and a wig, but what promises to be edgy and outrageous turns out to be dull and ho-hum. Co-producer Carell has been a big find for American comedy, but he must be regretting this project. Jane

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER
Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a people who liked to see their fairytales beefed up on steroids and retold ver-y slow-ly - so - that - you - can - un-der-stand - ever-y-thing - easily. Simon

MAN OF TAI CHI
Little more than an excuse for a series of martial arts fights, this film won't be launching Keanu Reeves as a serious player in the directorial world, and continues his run of stilted performances in front of the camera. Simon

MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
This looked like a successor to the Harry Potter franchise, so the studio executives threw a ton of money at the production. What they didn't do was hire some writers who could stand at arm's length from the source material and turn it into something other than a cheap telenovela with fangs. Cris

MOVIE 43
Movie 43
tries to revisit the cutting-edge comedy schtick of The Kentucky Fried Movie. Comedy, however, has moved on since 1977. Cris

SAFE HAVEN
Like asbestos, the work of Nicholas Sparks looks like solid building material. Hollywood has been constructing things out of it for two decades. But it is insidious, a danger hiding in plain sight, stripping you of IQ points as you hum along to its soundtrack or enjoy Josh Duhamel get his shirt off. Cris

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 2
The first one had something, but by the time we reached the final, there wasn't any of that left, just lots of standing around looking the part, if not playing it. A big battle is supposed to have put the lid on things, but the birth of a creepy half-human infant may signal there's still more to come. Jane

Our viewers agree on

AFTER EARTH
A good idea that crash-landed in the lap of a director increasingly known for poor films, or a parenting folly? Either way it's a disappointing sci-fi adventure, a father and son story directed by M. Night Shyamalan that relies far too heavily on the acting ability of 14-year-old Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith. Simon.

A film so bad I walked out, and I was on a plane to Darwin at the time. Boom tish! Thank you. I'll be here all weekend. Drinks are half price at the bar. Cris

Controversy

ONLY GOD FORGIVES BEST…
Electric is the best way to describe Nicholas Winding Refn's amazing film. I had goose-pimples throughout, so charged an atmosphere did he create. Cris

A seductive, violently operatic, neon-screened thriller with Ryan Gosling smouldering and Kristen Scott-Thomas in the role of her life, playing one of the most daring manifestations of spiteful evil you'll ever see. Prepare to be stunned. Simon

… AND WORST
Every frame that captures the low-life milieu is beautifully composed but Ryan Gosling has nothing to do, hardly any lines at all. What a waste. In place of a narrative exploring the contradictions of its characters and their situations, Refn indulges in an orgy of mindless, aestheticised violence. Jane