A Dangerous Method
What Is It? David Cronenberg’s sumptuous-looking adaptation of Christopher Hampton’s 2002 play The Talking Cure.
In case you’ve missed all the shots of Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender in slick-haired, bemoustached period garb, they play Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung respectively, whose lives are disrupted by the arrival of Keira Knightley’s troubled Sabina.
This looks every bit as classy as Cronenberg’s last offering, the stellar Eastern Promises.
What Is It? A silent film. In black and white. Those two things alone pretty much guarantee your screening is going to be devoid of disruptive, phone-using, verbal-diarrhoea-suffering chavs – which is reason enough to check it out.
Except The Artist also arrives in London surfing on a wave of festival acclaim, with star Jean Dujardin snatching up the Best Actor award at Cannes 2011.
Set in the late 1920s, it tracks the death of the silent movie in gorgeous detail, and boasts real warmth.
What Is It? Only Roland Emmerich directing a historical drama – and one that doesn’t even involve blowing up any famous landmarks (as far as we can tell).
Considering this is Emmerich’s first explosion-free film since – roughly – ever, Anonymous is an enticing prospect. And the director’s not afraid of courting a little controversy, his film suggesting that William Shakespeare never even existed.
One more reason to check it out – an emergent Rhys Ifans building on his Mr Nice success.
What Is It? A different kind of romcom for those tired of the Katherine Heigl and Sarah Jessica Parker brand of glitzy romance.
Narrated by a cat (oh yes), The Future follows the relationship between Sophie and her boyfriend Jason, who give a whole new meaning to the word ‘geeky’. They only communicate via the internet, and have dodged commitments like the plague – until they start worrying about the future.
Directed, written by and starring Miranda July, The Future is an offbeat chuckler that confounds expectations.
What Is It? A cancer comedy. Yes, you read that right. Except director Jonathan Levine’s unlikely combination of laughs with tragedy speaks to the importance of finding the humour in even the most heartbreaking of situations.
Helping him get the tone just right is the fantastic Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose character Adam is diagnosed with cancer. Lucky for him, he has an inappropriately jolly friend in the form of Kyle (Seth Rogen) who deals out marijuana and advice on getting sympathy lays. The result is moving and – yes – very funny.
What Is It? Sideways director Alexander Payne’s first film since that boozy romp – yes, it really has been seven years since Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church went galumphing around Santa Barbara County Wine Country.
Sticking to men in the throes of crisis, Payne’s The Descendants is an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel and has George Clooney playing a man attempting to reconnect with his daughters in the wake of his wife’s death.
Variety have praised the pairing of Payne with Clooney, concluding that “their tell-a-friend enthusiasm should spell sleeper success among catharsis-seeking adults”. Works for us.
Into The Abyss
What Is It? Just the kind of documentary you expect from Werner Herzog. After making all of our eyes bleed with Bad Lieutenant , the director’s back with this hard-hitting documentary – which paces the corridors of Death Row.
Are the consequences of violence equal to the crime? Herzog explores the aggressive behaviours that have landed two men on Death Row, namely murderer Michael Perry, whom Herzog interviews mere days before the prisoner’s execution.
Expect tough questions and a potent examination of violence in modern day society.
What Is It? Having previously charted the rise of Margaret Thatcher (among others), documentary-maker Nick Broomfield turns his attention to America, and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Broomfield meets family members of the immaculately groomed soccer mom, and even gets a breath of time with the lady herself – whom he apparently discovers is a scarily self-serving opportunist.
As ever, Broomfield’s insights should prove fascinating, while his excavation of Palin’s past should give us an invaluable understanding of this most divisive of political figures.
What Is It? You just can’t escape Fassbender at the moment. If he’s not taking on iconic mutants or (arguably more difficult, this) Keira Knightley, he’s nabbing awards for films like Shame .
Directed by Steve McQueen, Shame is a ticking time bomb drama, with Fassbender playing a man whose sex life is out of control – he picks up prostitutes and has one night stands all in an attempt to sate his desire. Things get further complicated when his sister (Carey Mulligan) moves in with him.
Fassbender picked up the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival, which makes this an absolute must-see.
What Is It? Ralph Fiennes hasn’t made it easy on himself – his directorial debut is a complex, timely dissection of war that updates Shakespeare’s intricate tragedy.
Transplanting the Bard’s killer dialogue into his movie, Fiennes crafts a tense atmosphere with admirable skill. He also takes the lead role, playing Caius Martius, a warrior who’s banished from Rome and teams up with his former enemy (Gerard Butler) to get revenge on his former home.
For Fiennes, it’s a brave, admirable debut that promises great things to come.
The Deep Blue Sea
What Is It? Flawed but ravishing period drama, in which Rachel Weisz falls head over heels in love with Tom Hiddleston (who can blame her?) “around 1950”.
Though its aesthetics are far more arresting than its storyline, director Terence Davies’ film is a probing, navel-gazing drama that asks us to question the price of passion - and its possible cost to those who embrace it over all else.
It’s also an excuse to look at a never-more-gorgeous Weisz, who pulls off a tricky role with gusto while rocking the ‘50s wardrobe. An interesting curio.
What Is It? Something is happening in the genre of grubby, small town thrillers at the moment, and it’s something very exciting indeed.
Snapping at the heels of Animal Kingdom and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is this chilly shocker, which tells the true story of the Snowtown murders, in which 11 people were murdered between 1992 and 1999 in South Australia.
Subdued and ominous, Snowtown follows teenager Jamie Vlassakis (Lucas Pittaway), who helps serial killer John Bunting (Daniel Henshall) carry out his dirty work. Shocking, uneasy viewing.
What Is It? Not the classic, beast-felling fantasy from 1981 starring Peter MacNicol – in fact, far from it.
This new Dragonslayer is a skater documentary that took home the Best Documentary award at the SXSW Festival earlier this year.
Star of the show is Josh ‘Skreech' Sandoval, a homeless California skateboarder who bums off his friends and spends his time getting drunk and/or high. Clearly influenced by Gus Van Sant, director Tristan Patterson delivers a cool indie doc that doesn’t flinch away from its subject.
The Ides Of March
What Is It? If you thought Fassbender was hard to avoid at the moment, just get a load of Ryan Gosling. Hitting something of a movie payload after carefully avoiding all the high profile jobs that his peers have succumbed to (superhero movies, crummy actioners), Gosling’s back for this political drama.
Not only that, but he’s starring opposite some serious talent. George Clooney’s in the director’s chair, while Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti both provide able support as Gosling’s press spokesman works the campaign trail for Clooney’s presidential candidate.
Pumped full of wit and suspense, Ides is a clear awards baiter.
We Need To Talk About Kevin
What Is It? Having already blazed through the festival circuit, Kevin has attracted acclaim all the way, with critics hailing it as nothing short of exhilarating.
Tilda Swinton plays the mother of Kevin, who commits a horrific crime and has to deal with the consequences. Through flashbacks, we learn how Kevin became a person capable of unspeakable violence.
Adapted from Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel, Kevin is a tough but engaging watch that asks difficult questions about the youth of today.
What Is It? Signalling a possible change in the tide of Freida Pinto’s film luck, basically. After having starred in duffs like Miral and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger , Pinto’s once jet-setting movie career stalled as suddenly as it started.
After putting in a decent (if brief) turn in this year’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes , though, she’s back giving it her all in Trishna , working with the ever-dependable Michael Winterbottom.
Adapted from Thomas Hardy’s Tess Of The D’Urbervilles , it relocates the drama to India and succeeds in crafting a superior love story that hits as hard as Hardy’s original tome.
Tales Of The Night
What Is It? Breathing a little magic into the LFF, Tales Of The Night presents six tales in 3D that use shadow animation.
Those six tales include The Werewolf, The Tom-Tom Boy and The Chosen One Of The Golden City, all of which mix in mystery and intrigue.
As cheeky as it is charming, Tales Of The Night utilises new 3D techniques, while the shadow animation is a pleasingly low-tech approach to storytelling. Nostalgia here we come.
The Kid With A Bike
What Is It? Coming courtesy of French directors Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, Kid With A Bike follows 11-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret), who’s been abandoned in a children’s home by his father.
Resolving to track down his dad – and his bike – Cyril falls into the path of hairdresser Samantha (Cécile de France), who agrees to foster the boy on weekends.
Far from a predictably heart-warming drama, the BFI call Kid With A Bike a “marvellous example of the brothers at their very best”, which suits us.
What Is It? The festival’s opening film, and another one from Rachel Weisz, 360 comes courtesy of Fernando Meirelles, the director of The Constant Gardner .
A modern take on Arthur Schnitzlerís play Reigen (La Ronde) , 360 pivots around the encounters between its various leads – among them Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Ben Foster – and the repercussions of those encounters. Think Crash with less car wrecks.
Oh, and Hopkins is receiving high praise indeed for his part – is that Oscar beckoning again?
Martha Marcy May Marlene
What Is It? One of TF’s favourites from this year’s Cannes festival, Martha may star a member of the Olsen clan (yes, the one that produced sickenly cute twins Mary-Kate and Ashley), but it’s anything but a slice of Hollywood cheese.
Elizabeth Olsen (lil sis to the twins) plays Martha, who escapes an abusive cult and is taken in by her older sister. But Martha can’t shake the feeling that the cult’s leader Patrick (John Hawkes) is still watching her every move. The film received rapturous applause at Cannes – and deservedly so.
What Is It? A haunted house chiller that, by all accounts, actually manages to get the audience squirming in its seats.
Set in London 1921, Awakening stars Rebecca Hall as academic Florence, who enjoys debunking supernatural happenings. Meanwhile, schoolmaster Robert (Dominic West) tells Florence about strange occurrences at a boy’s school where a child recently died.
Sounding every bit like a supernatural Miss Marple , The Awakening promises scares to match that fantastic cast.
What Is It? Very possibly the next Girl With The Dragon Tattoo , as director Morten Tyldum adapts Jo Nesbø’s Norwegian thriller for the big screen.
Roger is Norway’s best headhunter. Except in an attempt to afford his lifestyle, he works running art scams. When Roger meets the wealthy Clas Greve, he spies the ideal opportunity for the scam to end them all.
Beautifully made and boasting a glossy aesthetic, Tyldum's Headhunter does Nesbø’s novel proud. A darkly humorous twister that keeps the thrills coming thick and fast.
What Is It? Make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened for this trippy delve into an India that you’ve never seen before.
Asshole revolves around 20-year-old Gandu (slang for ‘asshole’), whose mother is a sex worker. Gandu dreams of being a rapper, but he spends all his time surfing for porn in internet cafes. Until he meets a rickshaw driver who decides to help make Gandu’s dreams come true.
Splicing dark fantasy with visually explicit content, Asshole has cult hit written all over it.
What Is It? Brazilian filmmakers Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra splice social commentary with clutching horror with the story of Helena (Helena Albergaria), whose plans to open a grocery shop are derailed when her newly unemployed husband balks at the idea of her providing their income.
As strange things start to happen around Helena’ shop, Rojas and Dutra make sharp observations about Brazilian society that make this an unusual and absorbing watch.
What Is It? A few years ago, German flick Cloud 9 gave us a melodramatic insight into the sex lives of OAPs. Now comes Volcano , which is an altogether more serious affair, as newly retired Hannes (Theódór Júlíusson) attempts to find renewed meaning in his life.
Shot around Iceland, Volcano benefits from rapturous visuals while Júlíusson is nothing short of remarkable as Hannes. An understated and involving drama.
What Is It? Selma Blair’s return to movieland. Pairing with Mia Farrow and the inimitable Christopher Walken, Blair plays Miranda, who’s been forced to move back in with her parents after another failed relationship.
When she meets Abe (Jordan Gelber) and he asks her to marry him, a pilled-up Miranda agrees. This isn’t going to end well. Written and directed by Todd Solondz, Dark Horse plumbs darkly comic depths in his portrait of Jewish life.
What Is It? An elemental new interpretation of Emily Brontë’s windswept 19th century classic, this time helmed b y Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold.
Though Arnold’s not the most obvious choice for the director’s chair, her Heights is an admirably rough, animalistic beast – the moors are wilder than ever, as is Heathcliff, here re-imagined as a black slave. It’s near wordless and beautifully shot, if a tad too overwrought for its own good.
What Is It? A beautifully shot drama from Gus Van Sant, Restless isn’t without its flaws, but it’s worth checking out for Mia Wasikowska.
As young cancer sufferer Annabel, the Alice In Wonderland actress delivers a quirky performance that is the film’s highlight. Despite a predictable plot involving her meeting a fellow death-obsessed teen (Henry Hopper), Wasikowska is worth it.
What Is It? Being touted as one of the best crime movies to come out of America in recent memory, Rampart is the sophomore feature from Oren Moverman, who crafted the memorably offbeat Oscar-nominated The Messenger .
Re-teaming with his Messenger star Woody Harrelson, Moverman’s film is set in 1990s LA and follows dirty cop Dave Brown (Harrelson), who’s caught on film violently admonishing a slipshod driver and given the boot – which, of course, is only just the beginning.
Scripted by James Ellroy and Moverman, Rampart has been celebrated as a searing crime saga and apparently features a fantastic turn from Harrelson. It’s top of our list.
What Is It? More than slightly resembling a modernisation of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? , Carnage escapes mean-spirited comparison thanks to one heck of a starry cast – comprised as it is of not one, not two, but three Oscar winners (and, alright, an Oscar nomination courtesy of John C. Reilly).
Based on Yasmina Reza’s play God Of Carnage , the film follows two sets of parents – Jodie Foster and Reilly, and Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet – as they meet to discuss their kids, who’ve been in a fight at school. Pretty soon the parents are squabbling as badly as their young 'uns. This we have to see.