The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us – the reason people get excited after summer is only for London Film Festival, right? And for good reason this year, as the fortnight of film in the big smoke is really raising the bar. From huge Hollywood hits to hidden indie stars, here’s your guide to catching the cream of the crop at this year’s London Film Festival.
Call Me By Your Name
Off the back of the sweltering A Bigger Splash, director Luca Guadagnino is definitely one to watch. His new movie Call Me By Your Name has been taking the festival circuit by storm, telling the story of the passionate love affair between academic Oliver and young man Elio, played by Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet respectively. Somewhat reminiscent of Stranger by the Lake, the movie’s official description of the pair is fairly enticing: ‘they bond over their sexuality, their Jewish heritage, and the landscape’. What more could you want?
Both actors have shown incredible promise – Hammer shone in Nocturnal Animals and Free Fire, while Chalamet can be seen in Homeland and Interstellar. But for both, and Guadagnino – Call Me By Your Name could be the gamechanger. And for anyone who yearns for an intense emotional punch this side of 2017, it could be too.
The life of Vincent Van Gogh was so tumultuous that it feels like it always has been a work of fiction. But Loving Vincent isn’t just another biopic – remarkably, it’s the first fully painted feature film: all 65,000 frames of the film are oil paintings on canvas, created by a team of 115 painters. A step up from stop-motion, it’s set to honour the artist’s craft while focusing on some lesser known parts of Van Gogh’s life, and his death.
While that’s already a fair amount to reel audiences in, the cast boasts Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory and Chris O’Dowd to tell the tale. The legacy of an icon paired with the jaw-dropping technical innovation and a star-studded cast? Run, don’t walk, and don’t let Loving Vincent fade away.
Lean On Pete
There isn’t tons to go off for Lean on Pete, but sometimes you have to trust those older and wiser than you. Critics have been raving about Lean on Pete, with that irrational, unconditional love that washes over you when a film just captures the intricacies of growing up better than you could ever put into words, that you just have to urge everyone else to experience too.
Telling the coming of age story of a boy in his horse, and promising a somewhat more serious role for icon Steve Buscemi, Lean on Pete is set to warm your heart and inspire every bit of growing up left to do – it’s always better together.
The Florida Project
A couple of years ago, indie director Sean Baker blew basically everything else away with debut feature Tangerine, a funny, sharp, electric journey of empowerment, shot entirely on iPhones. He’s now back with The Florida Project, travelling run-down motels and cherishing family and freedom – featuring Willem Dafoe on top form.
If Tangerine was a celebration of sexual independence and young adulthood, Florida is an ode to childhood. Baker sets his indie Hollywood movies amidst poverty in America, and is bound to reach out to audiences from all over at London Film Festival with empathy, humour, and a whole lot of heart.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The trailer for The Killing of a Sacred Deer features a haunting a capella cover of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Burn’. Bet you weren’t expecting that, right? The chilling snippets tease what’s to come in Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow up to festival darling The Lobster.
A similarly unsettling tone promises to plague Killing, this time letting the darkness take over where The Lobster favoured humour. Colin Farrell returns, and is joined by Nicole Kidman and newcomer Barry Keoghan in the psychological portrait of a surgeon and his dangerous relationships.
You Were Never Really Here
Aptly described as “an arthouse Taken” by the Independent, You Were Never Really Here gives Joaquin Phoenix the role Liam Neeson should have been promised. A teenage girl goes missing and Phoenix has to pick up the pieces, and put it all back together.
If director Lynne Ramsay’s track record is anything to go by (we’re still not over We Need to Talk About Kevin), this is set to be a searing, intense profile for Phoenix – an exciting opportunity worlds away from his romantic puppy dog in Her.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
Closing the festival and going out with a bang, Three Billboards marks Martin McDonagh’s long-awaited return. The director of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths carries his ease with black comedy onto his latest feature, which focuses on a woman who uses three billboards (guess the location) to communicate her anger to the police, nine months after her daughter is raped and murdered – with still no culprit.
Frances McDormand seems like a perfect match for McDonagh’s style, and she is joined by Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and the highly underrated Lucas Hedges in the supporting cast. With potential Oscar material all over the shop in this one – add it to the top of your list for this year’s festival.
Originally published on Into the Fold