What's lined up this Autumn? 2013's best films are yet to come

Expect the picks of this year’s London Film Festival to be in line for Oscars

The 2012-13 awards season wasn’t a vintage one. With a shortage of truly excellent contenders to choose from, the Golden Globes, Baftas and Oscars had to hand out trophies to the likes of Argo, Lincoln, Les Misérables, and Zero Dark Thirty – all of which were plainly in the “pretty good but flawed” category.

As talk once again turns to the big contenders for these ceremonies, though, the prospect this time round is different. The word from the Cannes, Venice and Toronto festivals is that we have an autumn and winter of superlative entertainment in store, with new releases due from the Coen Brothers (Inside Llewyn Davis), Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and several more reliably terrific directors.

Many of these podium prospects, including the two mentioned above, are making their British debuts at the London Film Festival, which kicks off on Wednesday and runs until 20 October. And, having seen a number of the LFF highlights, I’d put money on the films below picking up nominations, at least, in the biggest award categories. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to London: they’re all coming to a cinema near you between now and the Oscars.

Best Film: ‘Captain Phillips’

LFF screenings: 9 and 10 Oct; General release: 18 Oct

Paul Greengrass is the only director who can cut his action sequences into blink-sized snippets and still make you feel as if they’re happening right there in front of you. Following United 93 and his two Bourne films, Captain Phillips is another adrenalised, politically tinged action movie. It has Greengrass’s usual breathless pacing and fly-on-the-wall naturalism, but it’s also the true story of an all-American hero – a cargo-ship captain taken hostage by Somali pirates – played by none other than Tom Hanks. What more could an awards voter ask for?

Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón for ‘Gravity’

LFF screenings: 10 and 11 Oct; General release: 8 Nov

There are a number of what you might call “suffering-and-survival” thrillers at this year’s festival, involving household names stranded far from home. But while Captain Phillips and Robert Redford vehicle All is Lost leave their protagonists at sea for a whole film, Gravity deposits its own 600km above the planet. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play astronauts who are left floating in orbit after becoming accidentally detached from their space shuttle, which means that Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) has to suspend them in an entirely computer-generated setting for the entire film. Admittedly, there’s some corny dialogue, and Clooney sounds distractingly like Buzz Lightyear. But the visuals are so astounding that, for once, both CGI and 3D are justified. See it on the biggest screen you can find.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity  

Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor in ‘12 Years A Slave’

LFF screenings: 18, 19 and 20 Oct; General release: 24 Jan 2014

If Steve McQueen’s first two films, Hunger and Shame, left you with the suspicion that they belonged in an art gallery rather than a cinema, the astonishing  12 Years a Slave is the narrative-driven drama which confirms that he’s now one of our finest directors. It’s a long-merited leading role for Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays a cultured free man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. And expect Best Supporting Actor nominations aplenty for his diabolical master, Michael Fassbender.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave  

Best Actress: Paulina Garcia in  ‘Gloria’

LFF screenings: 17 and 20 Oct; General release: 1 Nov

A Frances Ha for the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel generation, Chile’s Gloria is another sparky, sympathetic portrait of a metropolitan singleton who isn’t sure what to do with her life, or who to do it with. Paulina Garcia is the fiftysomething heroine who keeps a jaded-but-amused smile on her face as her relatives and boyfriends  let her down, in a performance that’s somewhere between those of Catherine Keener and Diane Keaton. It’s already won her a Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin film festival.

Paulina García in Gloria  

Best Foreign Language Film: ‘Blue Is The Warmest Colour’

LFF screenings: 14 and 17 Oct; General release: 15 Nov

Abdellatif Kechiche’s sweatily intense, sexually explicit coming-of-age drama won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and the prizes won’t stop there. Kechiche immerses the viewer in the life of a Lille teenager (Adèle Exarchopolous) as she embarks on a lesbian affair with a blue-haired hipster (Léa Seydoux). It’s not just the sex that seems uncomfortably real.

Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Colour  

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

booksReview: Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments