After two-and-a-half weeks of cinema heaven, he 55th BFI London Film Festival came to a close this past Thursday with the UK premiere of Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea. It also marked the final LFF for Sandra Hebron, who steps down as the festival’s Artistic Director after nine successful years at the healm, to be replaced by Clare Stewart, an Australian who ran the Sydney Film Festival for five years. To commemorate this changing of the guard, here’s our roundup of the best (and worst) films to have screened at LFF this year. We’re already looking forward to 2012!
Top 5 Films:
1. We Need to Talk About Kevin: An extremely strong contender for film of the year, Ramsay adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s is dark, expressive and engaging in equal measures. Two standout performances from Tilda Swinton as besieged mother Eva and Ezra Miller as Kevin himself will hopefully lead to a number of Oscar nods.
2. The Descendants: After a seven year hiatus, About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004) director returned to screens with the superb Hawaiin family drama-comedy The Descendants, featuring an outstanding, multi-layered performance from Hollywood icon George Clooney. Funny, moving and impeccably directed, Payne is back with a bang.
3. The Artist: What more can be said about Michael Hazanavicius’ endlessly enjoyable love-letter to silent cinema? Supreme, expressive performances from the central cast, coupled with a classical tale of burning ambition and lusting desire suggest that The Artist could go all the way at next year’s Academy Awards.
4. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Ceylan’s magnificent meditation on crime and punishment within the Anatolian foothills is a unique experience, perfectly blending existentialist questioning with off-centre comedy. Despite strong performances throughout, it is the Turkish landscape that is the true star of the film.
5. Shame: McQueen once again looked to Michael Fassbender to command his latest film’s central role, and the actor truly embodies protagonist Brandon, a high-flying businessman in New York struggling to balance caring for his sister with his crippling sex addiction. Shame is a moody, beautifully shot British effort.
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method)
360 (dir. Fernando Meirelles, Brazil)
Top 5 Films:
1. The Artist: Hazanavicius has lovingly recreated both the feel and tone of silent cinema, creating a beautiful celebration of the medium through effortless editing techniques and a sublime use of lighting. The Artist is a joyous and enchanting adventure into the golden age of Hollywood that’s impossible not to fall madly in love with.
2. We Need to Talk About Kevin: Based on Lionel Shriver’s hugely popular novel, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin is a visually sumptuous, meticulously acted and highly ambitious literary adaptation. One of the most shocking, draining, yet beautifully crafted film’s to ever grace the big screen.
3. The Kid With a Bike: Directed by two time Palme d’Or-winning Belgium duo Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Kid with a Bike continues their remarkably consistent sibling partnership. A a beautifully shot tragedy depicting the crippling effects of paternal rejection.
4. Without: Nominated for the Sutherland Award at this year’s LFF, Mark Jackson’s Without is a slow-burning drama which came completely out of left field. The film’s pace may have put many off, but what they missed is an unnerving, darkly comic and deeply chilling meditative study of human behaviour.
5. She Monkeys: Swedish director Lisa Aschan’s remarkably assured debut feature She Monkeys is a hormonally-charged, coming-of-age drama, depicting the conflict between two competitive teenage girls. Whilst by no means perfect, She Monkeys is full of remarkable camera work, beautiful cinematography and an impressively provocative soundtrack.
Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Anton Adasinskiy (Faust)
Uggie – the wonder dog from The Artist
Target (dir. Alexander Zeldovich, Russia)
For more BFI London Film Festival 2011 coverage, simply follow this link.