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Home Blog Features LFF 2012 Surprise Film: Predictions
LFF 2012 Surprise Film: Predictions Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 20 October 2012 16:07

London Film Festival 2012 Surprise Film

The London Film Festival closes tomorrow with Great Expectations – but for me, it reaches its true climax in a few hours' time, when the 2012 LFF Surprise Film is unveiled. Which means it’s time for my customary annual look at the main contenders for this evening’s entertainment.

Last year, we were surprised – to put it lightly – by Damsels in Distress, a swansong choice for Sandra Hebron that proved highly divisive. The year before, Brighton Rock blared through the Vue West End speakers. Everyone was in full agreement on that one: it was cackwaffle. But while both of those were widely expected, 2010 is reminder of how unpredictable the surprise film can be: audiences were sure, positive, 100% certain, that it would be Where the Wild Things Are. What the got? Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.

With new director Clare Stewart looking to make her stamp on a revamped festival, is this the year when the LFF goes back to its really surprising ways? Frankenweenie was enough of a surprise already.

Here’s what might be loaded onto the projector tonight...



The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)


Paul Thomas Anderson’s “This has nothing to do with Scientology” film is all lined up for an Odeon West End exclusive showing in Screen 2 in a couple of weeks’ time – it’s not too much effort to bump the print upstairs to Screen 1. But with The Master already the most surprising omission from the London Film Festival programme, fans will be praying LFF does a U-turn. But surely the biggest surprise of all would be to leave it out altogether?


Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski)


Another widely rumoured pick, Cloud Atlas went down a storm at Toronto Film Festival. A polarizing storm that divided audiences massively. After Damsels in Distress, will the LFF aiming for another controversial pick? It seems the most likely after The Master.


Silver Linings Playbook (David O’Russell)


Word on the digital street is that the surprise film has already been leaked and one name that’s been mentioned a lot is David O’Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. With De Niro, Cooper and Lawrence in the line-up, it would be a suitably starry finish to the fest – and add another one of Toronto’s titles to the UK pool.


Life of Pi (Ang Lee)


After months of trailers full of colourful CGI and Chris Martin, Life of Pi would be a fantastic closer to the festival – if only to finally get Coldplay’s flipping Paradise out of my head. Para, para, put a flipping sock in it.


Hitchcock (Sacha Gervasi)


After the BFI’s Genius of Hitchcock retrospective, Anthony Hopkins and his super-sharp knife tie would be a fitting finish for Britain’s leading festival, especially given the BBC’s similar project, The Girl, starring Toby Jones, had a much smaller premiere at the BFI several weeks ago. But that season already climaxed in The Manxman’s restoration last night. And besides, Gervasi’s movie is already slated as the opening premiere for the AFI Festival in LA next month. Sorry, Alfie fans.


Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)


Now this would be a big boy for the London Film Festival to land. Spielberg’s Lincoln isn’t out over here until January 2013 – a nice change from the usual LFF fare, which tends to arrive somewhere in November or December. It was already the surprise film at New York Film Festival, but since when did copying other festivals stop us?


The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance)


The Place Beyond the Pines had a huge positive response when it premiered in Toronto, so it’d be great to have Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling in attendance, especially after the fantastic Blue Valentine turned up at London in 2010. But the most surprising thing about this film? It’s the second Bradley Cooper film on this list – a reminder of how brilliant that guy’s career has become.


To the Wonder (Terrence Malick)


If you can’t get Paul Thomas Anderson, get Terrence Malick. That’s sound enough logic for a festival that relies on the cream of the Venice and Toronto crop. Then again, if you listen to The Daily Mail, “it’s so bad it might not be released on the big screen in the UK”. But who listens to them?


Gambit (Michael Hoffman)


Who wouldn’t want Colin Firth back at the London Film Festival after The King’s Speech? All the grumpy folks who think the Coen Brothers’ script looks terrible after the trailer turned up last month. But Firth? Rickman? They’re tempting – and, more importantly, relatively feasible – names to bring in on the penultimate night of the festival. And after Quartet’s screening the other day, Tom Courtenay is definitely free and in town…


Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon)


Now this one would be a real surprise. Admittedly, it’s more wishful thinking than anything else, especially with Clint Eastwood’s Trouble with the Curve already boasting a BBFC certificate. Hell, if we’re dealing in wishful thinking, I might as well add Eran Creevy’s Welcome to the Punch to the list.

What do you think the Surprise Film will be? Spare a second to add your prediction below – or at least cross your fingers and pray that it’s not Damsels in Distress again.