This year’s London Film Festival includes features from 78 countries with 40% of the 229 movies directed or co-directed by women. The festival opens on October 2 with Armando Iannucci‘s “The Personal History of David Copperfield” and closes 11 days later with Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman.” In between 227 films feature in the diverse line-up. Let’s take a look at the 10 hottest Academy Awards contenders that will unspool on this side of the pond.
Pilot Amelia Wren and scientist James Glaisher find themselves in an epic fight for survival while attempting to make discoveries in a hot air balloon.
Director: Tom Harper
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Himesh Patel, Tom Courtenay
The last time Redmayne and Jones starred together was in 2015’s “The Theory of Everything,” which reaped both of them Oscar nominations and the former a win. They’ll be hoping for the same here.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.
Director: Marielle Heller
Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper
This is the perfect Oscar vehicle for Hanks to return to the Oscar race. Nostalgia will win out here and get him that elusive sixth Oscar bid (and possible third win). “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” director Heller gives this more bite than your usual biopic fare.
“Ford vs. Ferrari/Le Mans ’66”
American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Matt Damon, Christian Bale
This looks like it could be a good, uh, vehicle for both Damon or Bale to rejoin the Oscar conversation. Damon was last nominated for “The Martian” in 2016 (he won Original Screenplay with Ben Affleck in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting” but has never won for acting). Bale won the Supporting Actor Oscar for 2011’s “The Fighter.” What could hurt this film, however, is its name confusion. IMDB lists it as “Ford v Ferrari” while BFI refers to it as “Le Mans ’66.” Pick a name!
A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin
With eight Best Director bids to his name (and one win for 2007’s “The Departed”), Scorsese has the most of all living helmers. Expect a ninth for Netflix’s primary Oscars hope, while De Niro could return to the conversation for the first time since his Supporting Actor nomination in 2013 for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
Director: Taiki Waititi
Starring: Taiki Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Rebel Wilson, Roman Griffin Davis
This film won the people’s choice award at the Toronto film festival. Expect it to play equally well on this side of the pond. We expect it to reap a slew of bids both above and below the line.
Hal, wayward prince and heir to the English throne, is crowned King Henry V after his tyrannical father dies. Now the young king must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life.
Director: David Michôd
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Robert Pattinson, Ben Mendelsohn, Lily-Rose Depp, Dean Charles-Chapman
The immensely popular Chalamet sports a pretty great English accent in the exciting trailer for this Netflix pic, while Pattinson’s long hair is getting fans excited over on Twitter. Expect it to be in the discussion for below-the-line categories, while Chalamet could reap a second Best Actor nomination after 2018’s “Call Me By Your Name.”
A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, LaKeith Stanfield, Michael Shannon
This star-studded ensemble piece seems primed for a Best Original Screenplay nomination, while Craig could prove to be a revelation in what looks to be a tantalizing role for the Bond actor. And perhaps Curtis could reap her first-ever nomination.
Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Wallace Shawn, Alan Alda
Another Netflix entry. Baumbach could be in for his first Oscar nomination since his 2006 bid for Original Screenplay for “The Squid and the Whale.” His best chance is in that same category, while Driver should earn a second consecutive Oscar nomination after last year’s supporting bid for Spike Lee‘s “BlacKkKlansman.” He’d be in lead this year, though, as is Johansson who features in several hotly-anticipated pictures – could this finally be the year she earns her (somehow) first nomination?
“The Personal History of David Copperfield”
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, following the life of David Copperfield.
Director: Armando Iannucci
Starring: Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, Benedict Wong
A star-studded British period piece (“Downton Abbey,” anyone ?) is sure to attract the attention of below-the-line categories, while Oscar-nominee Iannucci (for Adapted Screenplay for “In the Loop” in 2010) is the man behind “Veep,” so he knows a thing or two about awards.
“The Two Popes”
Behind Vatican walls, the traditionalist Pope Benedict and the reformist future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
Director: Fernando Meirelles
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce
Hopkins could earn his first Oscar nomination since 1998’s “Amistad” in this two-hander (he, of course, won in 1991 for “The Silence of the Lambs”), while Pryce could finally receive his first-ever Oscar nomination after years of great work.
Click on the linked categories below to read our previews of each of these races.