BFI LFF 2021

These are 20 must-see movies from LFF 2021

From sure fire awards season hits to indie darlings, exciting newcomers and triumphant returns – the BFI London Film festival (LFF 2021) is a preview of films to look out for over the following year, and there’s plenty of exciting stuff in the program for 2021. With 159 features screening it can be hard to know where to start, so we’ve whittled down the list to 20 thrilling films worth watching

The Harder They Fall Jeymes Samuels writes and directs this rip-roaring western about feuding African American cowboys as single-minded Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) rounds up a posse to hunt down the murderous Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) and his gang. With an all-star cast including Lakeith Stanfield, Regina King and Zazie Beetz and a soundtrack produced by Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter the harder they fall is a classic white hat/black hat western. An explosive debut (Trailer here)

The Tragedy of Macbeth Joel Coen ditches brother Ethan for his solo directorial debut with this new adaption of the 400-year-old play. Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star as the iconic couple whose bloody ambition proved their downfall. A hypnotic monochrome adaption that highlights both fantastic acting performances and the spectacle of big screen cinema (Trailer here)

The Power of the Dog Oscar winning Australian auteur Jane Campion (The Piano) directs her first film in 12 years, a menacing period piece about two brothers living in isolation in the American West. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as intimidating rancher Phil who terrorizes his brother (Jesse Plemons’) new wife (Kirsten Dunst) in increasingly cruel ways (Trailer here)

Dashcam Rob Savage’s lockdown zoom horror Host was a surprise hit for fright fest studio Blumhouse, he returns now with another blood-soaked innovative offering, Dashcam. When covid denying blogger Annie travels to London to visit a friend during the pandemic she gets far more than she bargained for. An insane, terrifying, fun thrill ride

The French Dispatch Wes Anderson’s (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom) latest slice of warm eccentricity is a love letter to journalists, an anthology film covering a group of writers and their subjects in a small French town. It’s packed with a mega all-star cast – more about The French Dispatch in our October 2021 Most Wanted Movies

The Hand of God Oscar winning Italian enfant terrible Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty, The Young Pope) is back with this family drama where histories and infidelities bubble to the surface against a backdrop of football mania, as hometown team Naples sign the great Diego Maradona. A semi-autobiographical tale, The Hand of God is guaranteed to be culturally rich and savagely funny

King Richard A promising return to form for Will Smith? He stars as Richard Williams, a go-getting father who despite having no formal training has a plan to get his talented daughters Venus and Serena out of 1990s Compton and onto the world stage as tennis stars. Produced by the Williams sisters themselves, this is a classic heart-warming sports tale of triumph over adversity (Trailer here)

The Feast There’s an awful lot of buzz around this Welsh language debut feature from director Lee Haven Jones. A horror epic, The Feast sees a rich family terrorized at a dinner party where they’d announced plans to destroy the local countryside. A politically conscious but gruesome spectacle with laughs and flinches galore

Petite Maman There has been no greater Oscar snob in recent history than that of Céline Sciamma’s utterly perfect Portrait of a Lady on Fire two years ago. Sciamma is now back with her next feature Petite Maman where a young girl discovers a new world in the forest after the death of her grandmother. Expect another exquisite character study, though this time focused on childhood

Wild Indian A taut psychological thriller from debut writer/director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. In the 1980s two indigenous American boys Makwa and Teddo cover up the killing of a classmate. Flash forward to the present day and Makwa’s successful life is threatened when Teddo reappears and threatens to expose their past. Lead actor Michael Greyeyes’ electric performance has been making waves

Mothering Sunday A sumptuous adaption of the Graham Swift novel, this is a period drama with echoes of Ian McEwan’s Atonement. In 1920s England maid Jane (Odessa Young) is having a secret relationship with neighboring noble Paul (Josh O’Connor.) Ten years later and now a writer, Jane draws on her past romance for inspiration. The cast is rounded out by favourites Olivia Colman and Colin Firth (Trailer here)

Nitram Australian director Justin Kurzel has built a career on films that feature brutal violence, hallucinogenic cinematography and clever retellings of true (or true-ish) tales (Snowtown, Macbeth, True History of the Kelly Gang.) His latest tackles the true story of a mass murder in 1990s Tasmania. Caleb Landry Jones takes on the lead role of a man who shot dead 35 people in Australia’s deadliest killing spree

A Hero Iranian Asghar Farhadi’s 2011 Oscar winning A Separation established his signature style for weaving intricately detailed plots. Cannes Grand Prix winning A Hero sees a man use a found treasure to pay off his family debts, but what he thought was a moment of heroism soon spirals into unforeseen chaos

Last Night in Soho Another brilliantly inventive pop culture head rush from Edgar Wright, (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim, Hot Fuzz) part time travel fantasy and part violent horror. Fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) goes to sleep and wakes up in swinging 1960s London in the body of glamorous Sandy (Anya Taylor-Joy) where she starts to uncover some disturbing secrets. One of our October 2021 Most Wanted Movies

Lamb A mythic fantasy that uses Icelandic folklore to create an absolutely bonkers story about grief, Lamb has been generating a lot of talk on the festival circuit. A childless couple find a mysterious newborn to care for on their isolated sheep farm. The spooky atmosphere is only made more intense by the alien Icelandic landscape and midnight sun

Mass Another daring debut, this time from writer/director Fran Kanz. Six years after a school shooting the parents of two deceased boys – one a victim and one the gunman – meet to try and understand what happened. A tense chamber piece that focuses entirely on the strong performances of its four actors while they dig into a hot button issue

Spencer Christmas at Sandringham, the 1990s and Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) contemplates walking away from her loveless marriage. Director Pablo Larrain follows up his striking Jackie Kennedy piece with another exquisitely crafted biopic. The creative team features abundant talent with writing from Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) cinematography from Claire Mathon (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) and score from Radiohead’s Oscar nominated Jonny Greenwood (Trailer here)

Benediction Director Terence Davies (Distant Voices Still Lives) uses a mix of poetry and prose in this elegantly crafted exploration of the life of Siegfried Sassoon, known for his evocative First World War poetry as well as his secret relationships with a number of famous men. A showcase of British talent that stars Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi and Simon Russell Beale in a moving musing on regret

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon Writer/Director Ana Lily Amirpour’s subversive vampire film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night bagged her jobs on Legion, The Twilight Zone and Guillermo Del Toro’s new series after becoming a sleeper hit in 2014. She’s back with another original story as a stripper and a girl with psychic powers team up to swindle some sleazy customers

Passing The debut directorial feature from actress Rebecca Hall, Passing is an elegantly shot period piece about two women who are drawn to each other across the racial divide of 1920s New York. Irene (Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga) were childhood friends as mixed-race girls growing up in Harlem. After reuniting as adults Irene discovers that Clare has constructed a lavish lifestyle by passing as white

By Danielle Measor

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