• Stefanos Yoo-Min Florakis

BFI London Film Festival 2019: The most exciting entries of this year's cinematic gathering


As London is preparing itself for the high-profile film gathering of the year, we also prepare ourselves to watch some of the most anticipated entries of the 63rd annual festival.


From all the films, I'll get to see 24 showings, from multiple countries and industries in the business. Within our watchlist, several of them have become the centre of attention with big Oscar talks for the upcoming awards season.


Even though all of our scheduled films are extremely intriguing, 10 of them truly have me excited to be part of a small group of people to experience them on the big screen.


Disclaimer: high-profile films in the festival are not in our books due to schedule conflict and budget. Some of them are Les Mans '66 (aka Ford v. Ferrari), The King, The Aeronauts, The Two Popes, and Honey Boy. Also, The Last Black Man in San Fransisco has already been seen earlier in the year, and it is one of the best works of 2019.


10. Bad Education (dir. Cory Finley)

No, this has nothing to do with the BBC Three sitcom. It is the sophomore directorial work of Thoroughbreds director, Cory Finley, a semi-autobiographical film about the film's writer, Mike Makowsky, a real-life event that occurred in his high school as a student.


Praise has met with Bad Education, especially for Makowsky's screenplay and the performances of Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney. Shortly after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, HBO Films acquired the distribution rights for a reported $20 million.


Including Jackman and Janney, the film also has Ray Romano, Geraldine Viswanathan, Alex Wolff, Kayli Carter, and Rafael Casal.


09. A Hidden Life (dir. Terrence Malick)

A return to form for the director, Terrence Malick- as several critics have described the film after its premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival. The best reviews he has received since his 2011 Palm D'or winning film The Tree of Life.


A Hidden Life takes place in Austria during World War II, flowing the real-life figure of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer and devout Catholic who refused to fight for the Third Reich. the film depicts both the natural beauty of the land and its people (a standard motive to Malick's work) but also the haunting segregation of those who went against the regime.


Jägerstätter is portrayed by August Diehl, with Valerie Pachner, Michael Nyqvist, Jürgen Prochnow, Matthias Schoenaerts, and the late Bruno Ganz in supporting roles.



08. Waves (Trey Edward Shults)

Premiered in both Venice Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals, Trey Edward Shults' third feature film met with critical praise as a sleeper hit for A24.


Waves follows a mid-class suburban Florida family, through their lives, navigated by their experiences and conflicts after a tragic loss. That is the only description given by the studio, hinting of major dramatic depth, and based on Shults' work on Krisha and It Comes at Night, this will be an interesting ride. Especially when the trailer for the film gets a similar mood with A24's Oscar-winning film, Moonlight.


The cast consists of Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Lucas Hedges, Alexa Demie, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Clifton Collins Jr., and This is Us' Sterling K. Brown.


07. Knives Out (dir. Rian Johnson)

Rian Johnson leaves the galaxy far far away to the complex mystery thrillers that made his career, with a new original "whodunnit".


Knives Out takes place in the manner of a wealthy crime novelist, celebrating his 85th birthday with his dysfunctional and untrustworthy family. The following morning of the party, the patriarch of the Thrombey estate is found dead, and an investigation begins as the authorities, with the help of Detective Benoit Blanc, are trying to solve the suspicious demise.


A premise that could easily be an Agatha Christie novel and the trailer indicates that it could be one of the most entertaining films of the year (which the early reviews indicate so).


Detective Blanc is played by Daniel Craig, combined with an A-list cast including Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer as the wealthy victim.


06. Jojo Rabbit (dir. Taika Waititi)

Freshly out of the Toronto Film Festival, with the festival's top prize of People's Choice Award, Taika Waititi returns with a strong satire against hate.


The film is about Jojo, a young boy in World War II Germany, raised in Hitler's youth army, but fails to come to the same standards of the other kids, with his only solace being his imaginary friend, Hitler himself, played by Waititi. But after he discovers a Jewish girl hiding in the wall of his house, Jojo starts to question his country's beliefs and actions, while trying to fit in with his community.


Jojo Rabbit shows to be one of the New Zealand director's most profound work with a cast filled with both dramatic and comedic talent like Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis as the titular character.


05. The Lighthouse (dir. Robert Eggers)

Did you have nightmares after watching Robert Eggers' The Witch: A New-England Folktale? Then prepare yourself for the next stage of madness with his sophomore debut.