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London Film Festival Must-sees

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Try as you might, there’s no way to see everything at the London Film Festival between now and the final day on 27 October. But should you see farm-based Swedish drama Women With Cows or Michael Fassbender struggling with sex addiction in Shame? ShortList selects its best films of the festival.

FOR UP-TO-DATE COVERAGE OF THE FESTIVAL, CLICK HERE.

TAKE SHELTER

Tales of the end of the world tend to be blockbusters, but this is an intriguing independent drama. Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Shannon (image 1) stars as a small-town man suffering visions of the apocalypse. But are they actually premonitions?

THE DESCENDANTS

A boating accident leaves the wife of lawyer Matt King, played by George Clooney (image 2), in a coma. Distressing enough? Undoubtedly, but there’s the bonus revelation that his wife had a secret lover. Directed by About Schmidt’s Alexander Payne, but thankfully lacking Kathy Bates in a hot tub.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE

A hit at Sundance, this thriller showcases a third, surprisingly talented, Olsen sister as an escapee from a religious cult. She attempts to return to normal, but her paranoid behaviour becomes harder to control. Ignore surname-based bias — Elizabeth Olsen’s performance is provoking Oscar buzz.

SHAME

Steve McQueen — the director of Hunger, rather than the icon of Sixties cool — reunites with his favoured leading man Michael Fassbender for an uncompromising tale of sex addiction. Graphic from the outset and relentlessly bleak, it’s tough, but well worth enduring.

THE ARTIST

Describing The Artist as a silent French film shot in black and white, despite being accurate, is likely to dull your interest. But if we also add that it’s a feel-good tribute to the Golden Age of Hollywood, that it stunned audiences at Cannes and it’s already being touted as a Best Picture frontrunner at the Oscars, might perk it again.

50/50

If Pineapple Express taught us anything, it’s that Seth Rogen is a funny man. That continues in 50/50, but it’s not exactly the type of slacker comedy we’ve come to expect. Based on a true story, he plays the best friend of a man fighting cancer, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

RAMPART

In this James Ellroy-scripted thriller, Woody Harrelson (image 3) plays a corrupt cop, struggling to fit into a cleaner LAPD in the late Nineties. It’s being hailed as the performance of his career.

LIKE CRAZY

Billed as this year’s Blue Valentine, this well-observed film about young love turning sour is not recommended date viewing. Switching between London and LA, the bittersweet drama revolves around the pitfalls of a long-distance romance.

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