movies I can’t wait to see at the 58th BFI London Film Festival

The Imitation Game
The Imitation Game

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year, and for the past few years, the pleasure of the arrival of crisp air and turning leaves has been increased, because it means that London Film Festival time has come around again. Though the public festival runs for 12 days — this year it’s October 8th though 19th — for the press it runs for a full month. (Press screenings will start on September 22nd.) It is a veritable orgy of cinema, and I love it. It’s exhausting, but I love it.

Yesterday morning the full program for the 58th BFI London Film Festival was announced. I already knew that two of my most anticipated films of the fall were on the slate: The Imitation Game, Headhunters director Morten Tyldum’s film about Alan Turing and the WWII Enigma codebreaking project, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the mathematician; and Fury, another WWII flick, from David Ayer, about a U.S. tank mission behind enemy lines in Germany in the last days of the war; Brad Pitt stars as the glorious bastard who leads the mission. But today I learned, to my great delight, that another movie I’m dying to see will also be on offer: Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, starring Gael Garcia Bernal as a Canadian journalist imprisoned in Iran as a spy, in part because of his appearance in a segment on The Daily Show.


Other high-profile films I’m excited for:

Foxcatcher, a psychological thriller from Capote and Moneyball director Bennett Miller, starring Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum (I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Tatum is good here)

Men, Women & Children, from Jason Reitman, a drama about “emotional isolation in the age of screen-based technology,” according to the festival program; I’m going to pretend that his Labor Day didn’t happen, and I’m going to hope that Adam Sandler will be in Funny People mode here

Wild, from Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée, in which Reese Witherspoon goes on an adventure in nature

Mr. Turner, Mike Leigh’s biopic of painter J.M.W Turner, starring Timothy Spall

A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman, a dramedy about intrigue in the gardens of Versailles… among the gardeners (Rickman also appears as King Louis XIV)

Camp X-Ray, the Guantanamo Bay military drama starring Kristen Stewart

Winter Sleep, from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this year’s winner of the Palme d’Or

Dear White People, a satire about a black fraternity at an Ivy League university

Other films I didn’t know I wanted to see until the LFF program was announced:

The Salvation, a western starring Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green

Song of the Sea, the second animated film from The Secret of Kells director Tomm Moore

The Falling, a period drama about teenaged girls from Carol Morley, who made the wonderful documentary Dreams of a Life

Love Is Strange, starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as a gay couple forced from their longtime NYC home (this is currently in limited release in the U.S.)

X+Y, in which Asa Butterfield plays a teen math prodigy and Sally Hawkins plays his mother

The Face of an Angel, Michael Winterbottom’s new film, inspired by the Amanda Knox murder case

Monsters: Dark Continent, the sequel to Monsters (though not from director Gareth Edwards)

White God, a fantasy about a dog uprising; its canine star won the Palme Dog at Cannes this year

The Keeping Room, an American Civil War-era drama starring Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld

The Dead Lands, a fantasy adventure filmed entirely in the Maori language, set in the time before Europeans colonized New Zealand

Kill Me Three Times
Kill Me Three Times

Because I’ll see these actors in anything, I’m looking forward to:

Madame Bovary, a new adaptation starring Mia Wasikowska

Serena, with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in a Depression-era drama

A Second Chance, a Scandinavian police thriller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Drop, starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini (opening in the U.S. on September 12)

Kill Me Three Times, in which Simon Pegg is an English hitman in Australia

The Cut, about the Armenian genocide, starring Tahar Rahim

Jauja, in which Viggo Mortensen is a Dane abroad in Patagonia in the 1880s

My Old Lady, starring Kevin Kline and Maggie Smith (opening September 10 in the U.S.)

And I’m looking forward to all the discoveries I’ll make once screenings start.

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