Behind The Candelabra (2013, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

The last decade of Vegas performer Liberace’s life, from the perspective of his lover Scott Thorsen. A well-played and effective biopic, made with Soderbergh’s customary deftness, getting beyond the camp and rhinestones to explore the frailties of two people drawn to each other out of lack.

Ford v Ferrari [AKA Le Mans ’66] (2019, dir. James Mangold)

Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles collaborate on a car to take on Ferrari for Ford at Le Mans. Old-fashioned, well-made and undeniably stirring, this is nevertheless a conventional sports drama that can’t quite convince in its attempt to tell an underdog story. Still, it’s fun, has a great if showy Christian Bale performance, and is blokey as hell.

The Martian (2015, dir. Ridley Scott)

An astronaut is marooned alone on Mars; he develops a plan to survive. Smart, funny and upbeat space peril movie with winning ensemble performances, clean visuals, and a diligent script from the Andy Weir bestseller. A thoroughly professional and entertaining job all round.

Contagion (2011, dir. Steven Soderbergh)

A new disease spreads; an epidemic ensues. Excellent and sober intelligent action flick with the understated tone of a documentary. A genre movie handled with precision and the director’s trademark craft.

We Bought A Zoo (2011, dir. Cameron Crowe)

A widowed father buys a run-down zoo, and battles to have it open in time for the summer. Sunny-enough feelgood comedy/drama/romance with absolutely no surprises but some neat moments and an impeccable – if over-used – soundtrack.

Downsizing (2017, dir. Alexander Payne)

A man is forced to re-evaluate his life after volunteering to be miniaturised. Quirky fantasy which can’t work out if it’s social satire, science fiction, or romance, but has a go at all three. Defiantly odd, though, which is no bad thing.

Green Zone (2010, dir. Paul Greengrass)

An idealistic soldier discovers the truth about WMDs in 2003 Iraq. Sleek action-led thriller which dramatises a key event in recent world history. Simplistic in its approach but undeniably thrilling, with several great sequences.

The Rainmaker [AKA John Grisham’s The Rainmaker] (1997, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)

A young lawyer takes down a callous insurance company. Slick, mainstream, and linear legal thriller with no surprises but plenty of feel-good under-dog moments. Damon in Mary Sue mode. A professional, anonymous job from its former genius writer/director.

Jason Bourne (2016, dir. Paul Greengrass)

Jason Bourne resurfaces to deal with his past. Fifth in the franchise after the side-step of Legacy finds Bourne on top form; a story-light and linear but propulsive visually-driven action thriller, designed more as a sensory experience than narrative.

The Great Wall (2016, dir. Zhang Yimou)

Two European brigands help China defend its empire from monsters. Intermittently undeniably spectacular, with some keen use of 3D, this is nevertheless a very straightforward fantasy siege movie which feels oddly bland, secondhand, and compromised.