Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Stars: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine, Danny Huston, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Charlie Hunnam

Alfonso Cuarón, director of the awe-inducing dystopian masterwork Children Of Men, isn't one to show off. Full of technical wizardry, his adaptation of P.D. James' 1992 novel moves at such an alarming rate, and with such character-driven grace, that it's easy to overlook each of Cuarón's virtuosic touches. Viewed a second time, though, the film's two insane single-take sequences stand out as much as the crags in Clive Owen's weary face.

One is a riot's attack on a car, shot with a 360-degree-turning camera inside the vehicle, and the other is a siege on a warehouse building that's without an edit for 10 minutes. Those scenes alone should tell every other working filmmaker, in a loud and emphatic tone, "Step your games up."

The science fiction in Children of Men happens before the movie begins; 18 years prior to the story's 2027 setting, a fertility crisis resulted in no more babies being born, which caused London's officials to enforce a tight anti-immigration policy as the world's population slowly dies off. Clive Owen plays a former activist tasked with leading a pregnant African immigrant, and eventually her newborn baby (the only one in the world), out of the country. The idea behind Children of Men is the end-of-the-world as caused by mankind itself, not an alien invasion or nuclear holocaust. Cuarón's darkly lit chamber piece is a downer, sure, but it's also one of the best films of the last 10 years.