BFI London Film Festival 2015: 11 To Look Out For

The highlights from this year's BFI London Film Festival schedule

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Another year, another BFI London Film Festival line-up filled to the brim with gems you probably haven't heard of, but frankly need to see. 

Luckily for you, we're on hand to pinpoint the 11 highlights to be aware of, ranging from Bryan Cranston's debut lead to Johnny Depp's promised return to form.

The festival runs from 7-18 October and you can get your tickets here from 10am on 18 September.

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1 | Carol

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Todd Haynes' latest – his first since Bob Dylan biography I'm Not There (2007) – follows Rooney Mara's Therese, a 1950s New York department store clerk who falls for an older married woman named Carol, played by Cate Blanchett (this year's BFI Fellowship recipient). Adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel The Price of SaltCarol – which received quite the praise following its Cannes premiere back in May – saw Mara win Best Actress, a feat she or Blanchett will most probably achieve at next year's Oscars (you heard it here first).

Screenings: 14th, 15th, 17th October

2 | Trumbo

If the thought of Bryan Cranston playing blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo – the uncredited scribe of Roman Holiday – isn't selling this film enough, allow the solid support to assist: John Goodman, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, not to mention the ever-popular comedian Louis CK. Director Jay Roach (the man behind the Austin Powers trilogy) depicts Trumbo's famed ousting during the McCarthy era as a biographical absurdist drama.

Screenings: 8th, 9th October

3 | Black Mass

It's been a while since Johnny Depp has delivered a performance worth mentioning but Black Mass could well be his resurgence; the film follows his Jimmy 'Whitey' Bulger, a real-life ruthless Irish gangster who is persuaded to become an FBI informant by Joel Edgerton's agent through the blackmailing of his brother (Benedict Cumberbatch), a rising star in politics. Scott Cooper, who directed Jeff Bridges to Oscar success in Crazy Heart, delivers this gritty crime drama.

Screenings: 11th, 12th, 16th October

4 | High-Rise

Four films in and Ben Wheatley can easily be touted as one of the most exciting British filmmakers around. His fifth, High-Rise, is an adaptation of JG Ballard's novel that promises to continue this claim. Tom Hiddleston stars as Dr Robert Laing whose state-of-the-art apartment block begins to suffer flaws which leads to the breakdown of social strata as its residents – consumed by hysteria – succumb to extreme debauchery. If High-Rise sounds like a ready-made cult classic, that's because it probably is.

Screenings: 9th, 11th October

5 | The Lobster

If you've seen Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth, then you know what to expect from his English-language debut The Lobster. For those who haven't, expect a surrealist deadpan, and often horrific, delve into a dystopian future in which single individuals must report to a place called the The Hotel in order to find a romantic partner. It's either that or risk being transformed into a beast. Yep, you read that correctly. Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C Reilly and Spectre Bond girl Léa Seydoux all star. 

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Screenings: 13th, 15th October

6 | Bone Tomahawk

Upon the kidnapping of a woman in the Wild West town of Bright Hope, Kurt Russell's local sheriff Franklin Hunt leads a vigilante posse on a fateful pursuit which merges trademarks of the western genre with those of the horror schlock variety. If it's a genre-bending thrill ride you're after, you better stick Bone Tomahawk on your list. It has been billed as 'The Searchers meets The Hills Have Eyes', after all.

Screenings: 10th, 11th October

7 | Beasts of No Nation

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True Detective director/producer Cary Fukunaga's adaptation of Uzodinma Isweala's 2005 novel is worthy of a mention if only for being the first Netflix-developed film to find its way onto the festival circuit. The story of a dangerous mercenary (Idris Elba) who forces a young boy to join his army fighting in the African civil war, Beasts of No Nation is as unflinching a depiction of war as they come.

Screenings: 8th, 9th October

8 | Desierto

Jonás Cuarón – who co-wrote Gravity with his father Alfonso – has slipped into the director's chair for the second time with Desierto, a film which follows a group of illegal immigrants who, after becoming stranded during an attempt to cross the US border, find themselves targets of a gun-toting racist taking border control into his own hands. Gael García Bernal leads the charge, while Jeffrey Dean Morgan appears as the merciless killer.

Screenings: 14th, 15th, 18th October

9 | Room

Room, the new film from Frank director Lenny Abrahamson, is an audacious adaptation of Emma Donoghue's bestseller focusing on a woman and her five-year-old son who've been trapped inside a small space for an unknown number of years. Brie Larson (Short Term 12) takes the lead in a spellbinding film that should be seen knowing as little as possible; watch the trailer if you must.

Screenings: 11th, 12th, 13th October

10 | Son of Saul

While this year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner Dheepan is also being shown at the festival, it's Grand Prix winner Son of Saul you should seek out. This drama – set in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps – follows a Sonderkommando (prisoners tasked with burying gas chamber victims) who decides to give a young boy a proper burial. If word of mouth is to be believed, Hungarian debut director László Nemes is a name to be look out for.

Screenings: 10th, 11th October

11 | My Scientology Movie

Backed by the BBC, fronted by Louis Theroux, directed by John Dower (Thrilla in Manila) and produced by Simon Chinn, Oscar-winner for Searching for Sugar Man  all credentials that set My Scientology Movie apart as the documentary to catch at this year's festival which follows Theroux's investigation into the Church of Scientology despite their insistence he doesn't. Intriguingly, however, it soon emerges that the Church of Scientology are making a film about him... 


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