NYFF2011: 10 Most Anticipated Films – Paranoia, Beauty Queen Drug Dealers, Apocalyptic Weddings, and More pt.1

The 49th installment of the New York Film Festival, going on September 30th to October 16th, is shaping up to be a jammed packed cluster of cinematic gold. From love-torn couples (Mia Hansen-Love’s Goodbye First Love) to suffocating terrains (Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet) to documentaries shot on an Iphone (Jafar Panahi’s This Is Not a Film), this year will surely have something for everyone. Of the twenty two Main Slates, five Galas, and plethora of unique Masterworks selections; picking out which films to watch will be a perplexing task. Here in no particular order, are five of the top ten films we are highly anticipating this year. Check below for complete synopsis by the Film Society at the Lincoln Center and trailer of each film:

  1.  1. Melancholia by Lars von Trier
    Synopsis: “The end of the world—and the collapse of the spirit—has never been depicted as beautifully and wrenchingly as in Melancholia, the latest provocation from Lars von Trier (Antichrist, NYFF ’09). The title refers both to a destructive planet “that has been hiding behind the sun” and the crippling depression of new bride Justine (a revelatory Kirsten Dunst, rightful winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes this year), whose mental illness is so severe that she drives away her groom during their disastrous wedding reception. As the extinction of the planet looms ever larger, Justine is desperately tended to by her sister, Claire (an equally magnificent Charlotte Gainsbourg), herself gripped by anxiety over the impending doomsday. Melancholia’s premise may be science fiction, but the feelings of despair it plumbs are the most heart-felt human drama. A Magnolia Pictures release.”

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  2. 2. The Artist by Michel Hazanavicius
    Synopsis:”An honest-to-goodness black-and-white silent picture made by modern French filmmakers in Hollywood, USA, The Artist is a spirited, hilarious and moving delight. A sensation in Cannes, Michel Hazanavicius’ playful love letter to the movies’ early days spins on a variation on an A Star Is Born-like relationship between a dashing Douglas Fairbanks-style star (Jean Dujardin, who won the best actor prize in Cannes) whose career wanes with the coming of sound and a dazzling young actress (Berenice Bejo) whose popularity skyrockets at the same time. Meticulously made in the 1.33 aspect ratio with intertitles and a superb score, The Artist has great fun with silent film conventions just as it rigorously adheres to them, turning its abundant love for the look and ethos of the 1920s into a treat that will be warmly embraced by movie lovers of every persuasion. With James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and John Goodman as a definitive cigar-chomping studio boss. A Weinstein Company release.”

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  3. 3. Carnage by Roman Polanski
    Synopsis:”Summoning up the sinister from beneath the veneer of normalcy has always been Roman Polanski’s specialty, so it’s no surprise that the great director does such a smashing job of putting Yasmina Reza’s 2009 Tony-winning play God of Carnage on the screen. With the expert cast of Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz and John C. Reilly, Reza’s explosively comic X-ray of the anger and venality lying just under the surface of the outwardly civilized behavior of two New York City couples has been fully realized. Returning to the New York Film Festival with a feature for the first time since he presented his debut work, Knife in the Water, at the very first festival in 1963, Polanski pries open the true nature of these characters in something of a companion piece to his previous New York-set film, Rosemary’s Baby. Although it was filmed in Paris, the Brooklyn locale is as convincingly rendered as are the alternately uproarious and devastating revelations of human nature. A Sony Pictures Classic release.”

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  4. 4. Miss Bala by Gerardo Naranjo
    Synopsis: “One of the most exciting young talents around, the Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo (I’m Gonna Explode, NYFF ’08) approaches the hot-button topic of drug violence through the perspective of an unlikely, unwitting heroine: a Tijuana beauty pageant contestant (Stephanie Sigman) who stumbles into the path of ruthless cartel operatives and corrupt officials. Although inspired by a true story, Miss Bala avoids docudrama cliches and tabloid sensationalism, and instead evokes the pervasive climate of fear and confusion that has enveloped daily life in some increasingly lawless pockets of northern Mexico. Using long takes and fluid, precise camera work, Naranjo fashions a highly original thriller: an anguished and harrowing mood piece with an undertow of bleakly absurdist humor and moments of heart-stopping action.”

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  5. 5. Martha Marcy May Marlene by Sean Durkin
    Synopsis: “Sean Durkin’s haunting first feature, about a young woman’s halting attempts to undo the psychic terror of the cult she’s just escaped, heralds the arrival of a remarkable new talent. Fleeing a Manson-like Catskills compound at dawn, Martha (Elizabeth Olsen, leading an excellent cast) reconnects with her older sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson), a bourgeois New Yorker who takes in her sibling at the Connecticut country house she shares with her husband, Ted (Hugh Dancy). Lucy remains unaware of exactly what happened to Martha over the past few years—details that Durkin slowly but powerfully unveils in uncanny, disorienting flashbacks. The film’s gorgeous, painterly compositions have the chilling effect of suggesting that even our worst nightmares still retain a seductive allure. A Fox Searchlight release.”

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