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London Film Festival 2011: Our top ten picks

By and Mayer Nissim
The freshly-unveiled lineup for the 2011 London Film Festival is so tantalising that not even movies from Roman Polanski (Carnage) and Michael Winterbottom (Trishna) have made it into our picks. Read on for our top ten picks, which features the Queen of Pop and plenty of George Clooney and Michael Fassbender...

10. Coriolanus
Ralph Fiennes in Coriolanus
Who's involved: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox
What's it about: A banished hero joins his enemy to take revenge on Rome.
Why it matters: It's Ralph Fiennes's directorial debut, which should be enough! And by going for a Shakespeare adaptation with an all-star cast, including Jessica 'Tree of Life' Chastain he's certainly not trying to sneak this one under the radar.

> Buy: Book tickets for Coriolanus

9. A Dangerous Method
A Dangerous Method
Who's involved: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, David Cronenberg
What's it about: The turbulent relationship between psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud and Sabina Spielrein.
Why it matters: A Cronenberg/Mortensen team-up is usually an explosive affair (see Eastern Promises, A History of Violence), so this historical three-hander will surely set sparks flying. It's also another corset drama for Keira Knightley, who's swiftly banishing the memory of her rickety Pirates of the Caribbean turns.

> Buy: Book tickets for A Dangerous Method

8. The Deep Blue Sea
Rachel Weisz attends a screening of 'The Whistleblower' in New York City
Who's involved: Terence Davies, Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston
What's it about: The wife of a judge has an affair with an RAF pilot in this adaptation of the 1952 Terence Rattigan play.
Why it matters: Davies doesn't make a lot of features and it's a big deal when a new one comes out. His last was 2000's The House of Mirth, while his documentary Of Time and the City turned heads and won awards in 2008.

> Buy: Book tickets for The Deep Blue Sea

7. We Need to Talk About Kevin
'We Need to Talk About Kevin' still
Who's involved: Tilda Swinton, John C Reilly, Ezra Miller, Lynne Ramsay
What's it about: A mother founds herself ostracised after her son commits a terrible act.
Why it matters: A long-awaited comeback for Morvern Callar director Ramsay, this wowed us at Cannes earlier this year so we're eager for a second round. It's a tough film to sit through, but a piercing performance from Tilda Swinton makes it an unmissable drama.

> Buy: Book tickets for We Need to Talk About Kevin

6. The Ides of March
George Clooney attends 'The Ides of March' Venice Premiere
Who's involved: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei
What's it about: A political drama inspired by 2008 play Farragut North, itself based on a real-life 2004 Democratic primary campaign.
Why it matters: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind proved Clooney can direct, while Good Night, and Good Luck also showed his knack for making politics work on screen. Supporting roles from Evan Rachel Wood and Philip Seymour Hoffman make this unmissable.

> Buy: Book tickets for The Ides of March

5. Shame
Michael Fassbender
Who's involved: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Steve McQueen
What's it about: A 30-something New Yorker struggles to control his sex addiction.
Why it matters: Fassbender and Mulligan are two of Hollywood's hottest rising stars at the moment, and the edgy subject matter from director McQueen (reuniting with his Hunger star) and writer Abi Morgan plants this firmly in our top five. Strong reviews from the Venice Film Festival also bode well for this one.

> Buy: Book tickets for Shame

4. W.E.
Madonna directing 'W.E.' on location
Who's involved: Madonna, Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough, James D'Arcy
What's it about: Then: Wallis Simpson woos King Edward VIII. Now: Wally Winthrop obsesses over the infamous royal couple.
Why it matters: Madonna's first movie as a director since Filth and Wisdom was pretty much ignored and left to flounder. That won't be the case with W.E.. Worth seeing to find out which side of the critical divide ("exquisitely done" vs. "extraordinarily silly, preening, fatally mishandle") you find yourself.

> Buy: Book tickets for W.E.

3. 360
Jude Law and Rachel Weisz at the 21st Annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards
Who's involved: Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Fernando Meirelles
What's it about: A story following a series of couples and their sexual encounters.
Why it matters: A strong ensemble cast and talented director in City of God's Meirelles place this one high up our list. The festival's opening night slot should also signify that 360 is a film of top quality.

> Buy: Book tickets for 360

2. Wuthering Heights
Kaya with co-stars Solomon Glave, James Howson, director Andrea Arnold and Shannon Beer
Who's involved: Andrea Arnold, Kaya Scodelario, James Howson
What's it about: Emily Brontë's tale of the destructive love between Catherine Earnshaw and tortured soul Heathcliff.
Why it matters: Arnold's first short Wasp won an Oscar in 2004, and her two features (Red Road, Fish Tank) won BAFTAs. She's probably the most well-regarded up-and-coming British director alive, and with good reason. And Scodelario's Skins fanclub will bring a whole new generation to this radical update of Brontë's story.

> Buy: Book tickets for Wuthering Heights

1. The Descendents
George Clooney
Who's involved: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Payne
What's it about: A land baron tries to connect with his daughters after his wife is left in a coma following a boating accident.
Why it matters: Alexander Payne hasn't made a movie since 2004's Sideways, the wryly funny flick that netted Oscar nominations for Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen. With Payne's comedy-drama credentials and Clooney's character wrestling with fatherhood and his wife's infidelity, that 'Best Actor' statue might finally be in his grasp.

> Buy: Book tickets for The Descendants

Watch The Descendants trailer below:



The BFI London Film Festival will run from October 12 to October 27.

> BFI London Film Festival complete coverage

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