Aquarius (2016) – Kleber Mendonça Filho’s film opens with a party sequence that rivals the famous one in Fanny and Alexander for warmth and the precise way it sketches family relationships. With the assured, steady way he moves the camera, his zooms, his attention to faces and feet, his gift for fixing images with pop songs, Filho suggests a less hectic Scorsese, in a way that seems related to the warm Brazilian pop he favours (as opposed to Scorsese’s love of Phil Spector). This is not only a stylistic triumph, however: like Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria, this presents a complex portrait of a woman in her 60s (the marvellous Sonia Braga) – her instinctive solitude, her sexuality, her prickly relationships with family. It’s a social panorama of fast-changing Recife: Braga’s Clara is a member of the ruling class, and the movie does not shy away from the way she takes her privilege as her due. It’s also a profound meditation on the way that memory collects in places and things. I suspect it’s a masterpiece. ****

Certain Women (2016) – Spare, sad, somewhat inert, with closed-off, frostbitten people in the style of Alice Munro or E. Annie Proulx, this is one of those realist works where the silences are supposed to communicate volumes. It’s divided into three segments, and doesn’t catch until the third, where a Montana stablehand (Lily Gladstone) awkwardly woos a visiting teacher (Kristen Stewart). Gladstone’s unfamiliar face is more expressive in this context than those of her more famous co-stars (the other segments are built around Laura Dern and Michelle Williams). The details of her work with horses have a beauty and specificity that counter director Kelly Reichardt’s depressive tendencies (Reichardt even allows a few moments of humour). The movie opens up visually too: where characters in the first two segments are isolated in ugly rooms or have their frames invaded by other people’s feet or Kindles, here the images take in the immense beauty of the Montana landscape. It’s a shame it’s only one-third of the film. ***

Lo and Behold (2016) – Werner Herzog’s obsession – in his documentaries as in his fiction films – is with eccentric visionaries, regarded with a gaze so steady that it can sometimes feel cruel. In this exploration of the origins and potential of the Internet, he finds plenty of eccentrics in the world of tech, but from the first scientist he interviews – a man who goofs a moonwalk down a campus corridor before launching into an excited description of the first computer to computer conversation – the people here are eloquent and self-aware enough that it doesn’t feel exploitative. Many of them end up sounding like mystics. Herzog cites statistics about the huge volume of data we produce daily: it’s an area that’s already beyond human comprehension. He acknowledges this with the film’s magpie structure: ten chapters exploring it from different angles, from robots’ superior capacity for learning to the hazards posed by solar flares. It’s a fascinating movie. ****

Mustang (2015) – Flooded throughout with soft, golden light, with its five heroines lying about indolently – as if drugged by their youth and beauty – creating in their self-absorption a private universe, this in many ways resembles a Sofia Coppola movie. The difference is that these sisters are literally prisoners in their home in rural Turkey, after their free-spirited horsing around offends the mores of their community. We see everything from the perspective of the youngest sister, and in some ways the film is limited by its child’s point of view. The grandmother who confines them (Nihal Koldaş, in a fine performance) is an ambiguous figure – she seems to pull on her headscarf more to placate her neighbours than from any sense of piety – but such subtleties are passed over in what becomes a fairly straightforward escape story – a fairy tale, complete with an evil uncle and a nice young man who comes to the rescue. ***