This year marked Frowning’s first year at the BFI London Film Festival. Twenty six films, eight days and a lot of deliberation has led us to this list of our best films and performances that hailed from the UK’s biggest film festival.
BEST FILM – Mommy (Dir. Xavier Dolan) Dolan’s festival season has gone from strength to strength as he brought this moving story of a broken mother/son relationship to audiences internationally. Laden with a powerful message, impeccable performances and a near perfect script and direction from Xavier Dolan, Mommy has a resonance that trumped everything else we saw. It adopts pop culture and modern youth with stunning conviction and is most certainly one of our favourite films of 2014.
SPECIAL COMMENDATIONS – The Tribe (Dir. Miroslav Slaboshpitsky) / Leviathan (Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev) Taking second and third place in our top trio of LFF are Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s The Tribe and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan. Ukranian and Russian features respectively, these two films were shining examples of the strength of foreign cinema at this year’s festival. The Tribe, deafening in its discomforting silence, tells a story of deceit and exploitation solely through the gestures of an entirely deaf cast. No words are spoken, and no subtitles are given. Instead devastation is conveyed through expression in this defining cinematic moment. Leviathan’s bravery to tarnish its country’s politicians with such a demonic brush earns it a spot rounding out our top three for the festival – and deservedly so.
OUR OSCAR TIP – Whiplash (Dir. Damien Chazelle) London is the last major festival before awards season hits in winter, and several of this years Oscar hype films were part of the programme this year. Alongside Jean-Marc Vallee’s Wild and Bennett Miller’s already hailed Foxcatcher, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman made an appearance as the surprise film. Outshining them all is a brilliantly crafted music movie starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. Whilst the rest are made with Oscar glory in mind, Whiplash fell accidentally into it. Written with a sharp wit and performed with Raging Bull like intensity – this is the film that you need to see this year.
BEST BRITISH FILM – The Duke of Burgundy (Dir. Peter Strickland) Powerful, salacious and deftly funny, Peter Strickland’s follow up to Berberian Sound Studio leaves you with an guilty sense of glee. This is a masterful piece of work from a man known for embracing the peculiar. His depiction of a lesbian couple torn by ones desire to be submissive is laced with a gorgeous, if slightly morbid sense of humour. He revisits situations with fresh eyes and casts an ominous shadow on his sets. This is as interesting and explorative as cinema gets.
BEST ACTOR – Antoine-Olivier Pilon, Mommy Antoine-Olivier Pilon might be at a slight advantage here. The Canadian actor blew us away with his brilliant, believable depiction of a troubled teenager suffering from ADHD in Xavier Dolan’s Mommy. To put it simply, Pilon carries a lot of this fantastic film’s charm on his young, but very capable shoulders. This boy’s name is one you are sure to hear more of in the future. Beguiling stuff.
BEST ACTRESS – Yana Novikova, The Tribe The Tribe is deeply indebted to its brave performers. Notably, the enchanting work of Yana Novikova. In a film with no dialogue, she delivers a performance that redefines the creative vision of fearless. Her face, beautifully reactive, and her gestures, sometimes witty and more often sullen are two of the film’s most credible features. This is an actress with a memorable, commendable talent.
BEST NEWCOMER – Florence Pugh, The Falling Regardless of whether or not Carol Morley’s Dreams of a Life followup The Falling was your thing, there is no denying that the character of Abbie is one of her greatest creations. Complex in her brash femininity, Florence Pugh gives a debut performance that is quintessentially English, embodying Morley’s character with terrifyingly good conviction.
These selections are in no way affiliated with the BFI London Film Festival and are entirely expressive of the opinion of Frowning, and their opinion only.