For this stunning masterpiece Shoplifters, Hirokazu Koreeda should win the Academy Award for Best Director. It is unbelievable that the rather complicated characters and their relationships are depicted in just two hours. The approach is mild, understated, low-profile, subtle and nuanced. Much room, space and thought are left to the viewers. The direction is simply super smart.
The cinematography is extraordinary, with some surprising long shots, close-ups and beautiful shots from tight angles. The editing is speechless, connecting numerous scenes just seamlessly. Not a single minute is wasted, and the film is largely intense and arresting. Together with the brilliant performances from the ensemble cast, the result is a satisfying and deeply affecting drama on lower class in Japan.