My top ten London Film Festival recommendations

I saw a bucketload of films at this year’s London Film Festival. Seeing films in this fashion is very tiring but it also helps you sort out the good from the bad, the outstanding to the mediocre very easily so here are the top ten films that stood out at LFF this year (click on the titles to read the full review):

La La Land

This was hyped for a long time and I was so excited for it and usually with that level of anticipation, it fails to live up to expectation but that was not the case at all. I loved it 100%. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are an aspiring actress and jazz pianist who fall in love in this adorable all-singing and dancing musical that feels so old school. Due for release in January 2017.

Lion

Pass me the tissues! This one truly heartbreaking film and the only one I genuinely cried at. It tells the true story of Saroo (Sunny Pawar, then Dev Patel) who gets lost in India and becomes homeless and he is eventually adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Fast forward 25 years and he is searching for his family using Google Earth. It currently has no U.K. release date.

 

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Free Fire

This is pure fun and absolute genius. Ben Wheatley has made a shoot em up crime thriller that pans out in real time in an abandoned warehouse. Basically, Brie Larson and Armie Hammer are helping negotiate an arms deal between Cillian Murphy‘s team and Sharlto Copley‘s crew and all hell breaks loose. Violent, hilarious and a total joy. Due for release in March 2017.

Elle

I hadn’t really known about this French-language gem before LFF started but word of mouth peaked my curiosity and I managed to squeeze into a public screening and I’m glad I did. It is remarkable and I want to see it again. Isabelle Huppert plays a women who is attacked and raped in her own home but when she finds out the identity of her attacker, she acts in unpredictable and hard-to-understand ways. Released in February 2017.

 

Nocturnal Animals

This is one that will leave you thinking for days. It’s an intriguing idea and beautifully shot. Basically Amy Adams receives a manuscript of a novel written by her ex-husband Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). In that novel, he has written a tale about his wife and daughter being raped and killed by criminals after they are forced off a road in Texas. It is essentially two movies in one and I kept trying to find a deeper meaning but couldn’t. Would be great for a film studies class. Released on November 4th.

Their Finest

I love a romantic comedy but this is very different to what you would normally expect from the genre. Helen (Gemma Arterton) is hired to write female dialogue for the film division of the Ministry of Information during World War II alongside Buckley (Sam Claflin) and they bond during the shoot in Devon, while Helen is away from her partner. It is uplifting, charming and adorable, and Bill Nighy is a comic delight once again. No release date currently set.

 

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American Honey 

Director Andrea Arnold has discovered an extraordinary breakout actress in Sasha Lane, who escapes her horrible home life to go touring across America selling magazines door to door with a crew run by Riley Keough and featuring Shia LaBeouf. It is a raw and honest coming-of-age tale and I soaked up every minute of it. In cinemas now

Moonlight

This is a heartbreaker. We follow Chiron through three periods of his life from child with a drug addict mother, a teenager exploring his homosexual urges and as a grown-up scarred by those experiences. My heart just leapt for him. So emotional! Featuring top performances from Naomie Harris and Janelle Monae. Currently without a release date.

 

manchester

Manchester by the Sea

This is lower on the list because while I can appreciate it’s a very good film with outstanding (nomination worthy) performances from Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams it is also very sad and slow. Affleck plays Lee, who is riddled with grief and guilt. He has been surprisingly appointed legal guardian of his brother’s son and being back in his hometown stirs up old wounds. In cinemas in January 2017.

Arrival

Amy Adams makes it into my top ten twice! She certainly knows how to pick good movies. She stars as linguistics expert Louise in this unusual and very different alien invasion sci-fi drama. She is drafted in to establish communication with aliens that have suddenly started hovering over Earth. Prepare to have your mind blown. In cinemas 11th November.

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  1. […] Fire, one of my favourite films at the 60th London Film Festival, is an absolute gem. I didn’t stop laughing, smiling and thinking “this is […]

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