Il Divo (2008, dir. Paolo Sorrentino)

Three years in the life of Italian politician Giulio Andreotti as his career collapses. A dazzling, swaggering, operatic approach to its unpromising-sounding subject matter pays dividends, as Sorrentino finds ways to unlock a private man. A touch impenetrable without knowledge of the actual events, but remarkable nevertheless.

Gomorrah (2008, dir. Matteo Garrone)

Five sets of lives criss-cross, linked by Camorra gang-related activity in the same Naples housing project. Based on a non-fiction expose, this is an astonishing piece of work: heartfelt, brutal, unsympathetic. The ages of man, scattered between the stories. The best of its type this side of City of God.