Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking with remarkable perception and accuracy; not only perfecting those well known mannerisms and ticks but capturing his subject's idiosyncratic charm and easy half-smile with a powerful screen presence that opens multiple possibilities.
The most important documentary exposé since 'Taxi to the Dark Side', it brings a sober clarity to a scandal that governments had kept under wraps, absurdly hiding behind 9/11 intelligence activities and bestowing a traitor status on a whistleblower for spilling the beans on a new kind of tyranny for the digital age.
Four years after the Berlin IFF organisers left an empty chair on stage when house arrest prevented Jafar Panahi from attending as a jury member, the Iranian filmmaker picked up the Golden Bear for 'Taxi', his third feature in defiance of a 20 year filmmaking ban.
Boyhood won best film and director at the BAFTA's but it's unlikely to be an indicator of Oscar success in these categories, where Birdman seems comfortably ahead after dominating the powerful guild awards.
It's now eight years since Pedro Costa's austere epic, 'Colossal Youth' ('Juventude Em Marcha'), provoked a partial walkout during the film's world premiere at Cannes, with his pared down minimalism and extreme long takes proving too much for an audience used to a less challenging 'spoon fed' diet.