Oscar hopefuls line up for London Film Festival

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Annapurna Pictures

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Kiki Layne stars as Trish alongside Stephan James in If Beale Street Could Talk

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk will be one of several films from Oscar winners or nominees at the London Film Festival.

The line-up for 2018, announced on Thursday, will also include crime drama Widows starring Viola Davis, which will open the festival on 10 October.

It’s director Steve McQueen’s first feature since his 12 Years A Slave won best film at the 2014 Oscars.

The Coen Brothers’ Ballad of Buster Scruggs will also have a Gala showing.

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Twentieth Century Fox

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Michelle Rodriguez (left) and Elizabeth Debicki (right) appear in opening film Widows

“This year some key awards season films are going to be launched at the festival. That strategy has worked very well in recent years,” said artistic director Tricia Tuttle.

“It’s been a key launch pad for some of the autumn season films, particularly ones with awards season ambitions.”

Other films being screened which currently have Academy Awards hopes include Timothee Chalamet’s addiction drama Beautiful Boy.

His romance film Call Me By Your Name was one of the highlights of last year’s festival.

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Amazon Studios

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In Beautiful Boy Timothee Chalamet plays a young man struggling with drug addiction and Steve Carell plays his father

Historical comedy The Favourite, which features Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, is also expected to be a highlight of the forthcoming awards season.

As is The Front Runner which has its European premiere at the festival, and which stars Hugh Jackman as 1988 presidential candidate Gary Hart who became caught up in allegations of an extramarital affair.

And director Alfonso Cuaron, who won a best director Oscar, for Gravity will bring his latest film Roma to the event.

It follows a year in the life of a family in Mexico City in the 1970s. The production, which is being distributed by Netflix, is one of several films that demonstrate the streaming giant’s awards ambitions.

The festival will screen a total of 225 features with 30% of those coming from female film-makers, which Tuttle says wasn’t hard to achieve because of the breadth of emerging industry talent.

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20th Century Fox

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Melissa McCarthy swaps laughter for subterfuge with her portrayal of writer Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

“It’s not been that difficult to be honest,” she said.”It’s important to us to stress that, while we’re all moving towards parity, we don’t set quotas for ourselves in the programming team.”

Films from women directors include Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me? starring Melissa McCarthy.

It’s the true story of celebrity biographer Lee Israel who becomes involved in a career threatening deception. And Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer, which features Nicole Kidman as a jaded police detective.

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Entertainment One

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Maxine Peake stars in Peterloo about the 1819 massacre in Manchester

The festival will also for the first time premiere a film outside London with Mike Leigh’s 19th Century drama Peterloo being screened in Manchester.

TV will also be showcased with the festival showing the first two episodes of The Little Drummer Girl. Starring Florence Pugh, the show is a new John Le Carre adaptation from the makers of the hit BBC spy drama series The Night Manager.

The London Film Festival will run from 10-21 October.

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