Blue Story (2019, dir. Rapman)

London teens become inexorably drawn into turf warfare, and the violence that comes with it. Straightforward though vivid and confident debut, keenly balancing school and street, the ordinary world and the futility of revenge. Lots to admire, not least the use of music and fourth wall breaking throughout; writer-director Rapman is one to watch. Recommended.

Searching (2018, dir. Aneesh Chaganty)

A father searches his missing daughter’s online life for clues about her disappearance. Smart, precise, and well-sustained evolution of the found-footage movie, with its storytelling conceit backed up by a solid mystery and a good lead performance. Recommended.

Villain (2020, dir. Philip Barantini)

A career criminal tries to go straight, but his wayward brother’s debts force him back into crime. Modest but effective East End gangsterism, with a melancholy touch and a strong central performance. No surprises, but there’s talent in the writing and direction, and Fairbrass shows that he can be subtle.

The Kitchen (2019, dir. Andrea Berloff)

Three New York women take over their imprisoned husbands’ protection racket. Lovingly-designed but superficial 70s-set crime drama based on a graphic novel, with strong performances and a great cast in depth. The tick-box script is the issue; a poorly-handled FBI subplot doesn’t help either.

Bad Boys for Life (2020, dir. Adil & Bilall)

A veteran detective is targeted for assassination by a face from the past. Slick threequel which, despite having few new ideas of its own (borrowing from Silence of the Lambs, Temple of Doom and John Woo‘s love of trails-bike gangs), delivers in terms of shouty, shooty buddy-cop fun. Don’t be surprised if a Part 4 rolls around soon.

The Jesus Rolls (2019, dir. John Turturro)

Two petty criminals and a hairdresser go on a road trip/crime spree. An odd project – a US remake of Bertrand Blier’s Les Valseuses/Going Places retooled for Turturro’s Quintana character from the Coens’ The Big Lebowski – that inevitably feels like fan fiction. Some minor pleasures along the way; the actors seem to be having fun.

The Gentlemen [AKA Toff Guys] (2019, dir. Guy Ritchie)

A London-based drug dealer’s empire is threatened by rival forces and a blackmailer. Fourth and about the best of Ritchie’s gangland comic fantasies. Familiar ingredients and approach, but handled with verve throughout. Everyone’s in on the joke, not least standouts Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant.

To Catch a Thief (1955, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

A former jewel thief comes out of retirement when his Riviera lifestyle is threatened by a pretender. Glossy and deft romantic comedy with a few knowing touches, with a lighter touch than typical from its director, some still-impressive optical effects sequences aside. Happy to serve the daft conceit, the cast and crew relax and enjoy themselves.

Knives Out (2019, dir. Rian Johnson)

A famed mystery writer is killed; an unconventional detective arrives. Sharp, witty and well-constructed comedy-thriller, a love letter to Agatha Christie and to the likes of Deathtrap and Sleuth. Bags of fun, with a game cast of character actors all enjoying themselves. Recommended.

Into The Ashes (2019, dir. Aaron Harvey)

A former criminal’s past life catches up with him, when old associates track him down and kill his wife. Effective low-key and slow-burn thriller with a solid cast of character actors making the most of the material. A good sense of blue-collar life, and of the inevitable consequences of revenge.