As the days get colder and the leaves turn brown, every film fan can hear a whisper in the wind: ‘Oscar Contender.’ It’s nearly that time again when every new film is weighted against its competition. October is a month when a load of big stars are in town for the London Film Festival – the cinematic spirit is in the air. So into Autumn we go, where the years’ best films are often released to uproarious acclaim or bitter disappointment.
Peruse our list of the very best films to see in the cinema this month, from an Irish folk-comedy to the re-release of a modern classic.
Oh it’s a good time to be a movie fan.
Avatar – Out Now
Don’t get too excited – this is the original Avatar, doing its run of cinemas before its hugely anticipated sequel is released in December.
When his twin brother is killed, wheelchair-bound ex-marine Jake Sully is recruited to partake in a mining mission on the far-away moon of Pandora in order to save the earth. In order to roam freely on Pandora, the humans take on the form of an Avatar, a being made to resemble the native Na’vi people. Jake falls in love with a native woman named Neytiri, and finds himself caught between a war between humans and Na’vi people.
Although this avatar is not a brand-spanking new model, it’s still an utterly spell-binding experience on the big screen, and enough to get us excited about the prospect of rewatching it, in all its expansive CGI glory. We have been rather inundated with big-budget, sci-fi blockbusters since the original Avatar was released in 2009 so it’s easy to forget just how spectacular it was.
Length: 2h 41m | Rating: 12 | Rotten Tomatoes: 82% | Metacritic: 75%
Don’t Worry Darling – Out Now
Now that Don’t Worry Darling has been marinading in critical discourse for the past week, we can say it is exquisitely divisive. There is a fence, and chances are you won’t be on it. After the palava at Venice Film Festival, where Florence Pugh was notably absent amidst rumours of an on-set fallout and Harry Styles was rather tenuously alleged to have spat at his co-star Chris Pine, Don’t Worry Darling has been riding a train of controversy. Destination: literally every London cinema.
Don’t Worry Darling is billed as psychological-thriller-horror; the three best words in the English language when put together. Something strange this way comes…
Jack (Harry Styles) and Alice (Florence Pugh) play a married couple in an archetypal 1950s American town. Jack works for a company on which the town’s prosperity is dependent, but the company is a shady, suspicious institution with a cupboard full of disturbing mysteries at the heart of their business.
The atmosphere of oddity was further heightened this week when Jordan Pieterson started crying after Piers Morgan told him Chris Pine’s character in the film was based on him.
We live in a strange world, but go see the film so you may partake.
Length: 2h 2m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 38% | Metacritic: 48%
Flux Gourmet – Out Now
Director Peter Strickland is sometimes known as ‘The Poet of the Weird’. His films are near-hallucinogenic dives into the kitsch, camp underworld of egg fetishes, subversive erotica and farting. Flux Gourmet, starring Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie, is as deep a dive as it gets; a cinematic alternate universe more replete with flatulence, phallic vegetables and sexy milkshakes than any other.
Flux Gourmet is set in a weird institute devoted to ‘sonic cooking’, which basically consists of cooking as a live performance, with loads of microphones embedded in the ingredients for maximum ASMR effect.
It is an utterly bizarre film, neither completely comedy nor drama, but its own genre of the absurd.
Length: 1h 51m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 85% | Metacritic: N/A
See How They Run – Out Now
When someone gets murdered with a pair of skiis, one of the detectives says ‘and then it was all downhill from there.’ If you find that funny, you’ll love See How They Run, and if you don’t, well what on earth is wrong with you?
Similarly, if you liked Knives Out then you’ll most certainly like See How They Run, an Agatha Christie-esque period whodunnit, with hints of Wes Anderson.
From comedy writer Mark Chappell, See How They Run is set in the antiquated London theatreland of the 1950s. One of the crew members working on a production is murdered, and in come Saoirse Ronan (Little Women, Lady Bird) and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, JoJo Rabbit) to find out just who did dunnit.
See How They Run is dryly funny and edited with flare. One of the most enjoyable, silly Friday-night watches on this list.
Length: 1h 38m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: N/A | Metacritic: N/A
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – Out Now
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is enjoying a long run in London cinemas, so they’re making it pretty easy for you to get in on the fun.
From the wildly popular, generation-defining production company A24 (Uncut Gems, The Witch, Midsommer) comes Bodies, Bodies, Bodies an unsurprisingly good comedy-slasher starring Rachel Sennott (Shiva Baby), Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) and Pete Davidson.
The party-goers, a rich group of 20-somethings representing every character from Generation Z, decide to play Bodies Bodies Bodies, a game where one of them is a secret ‘killer’, who has to ‘kill’ the other plays under the cover of darkness before they escape. It won’t surprise you, when I say real bodies start turning up.
Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is a party movie, which means drugs, booze and provocation, and a slasher movie, which means a healthy dose of blood, gore and terror. The scariest thing in the movie is how terrible the characters are, armed with passive aggression.
Length: 1h 35m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 86% | Metacritic: 70%
Smile – Out Now
One of the few objective human truths we can hold self-evident is that a really weird smile is the stuff of nightmares. You know, the kind of smile that says ‘Hello, welcome to hell’.
Smile, directed by first-time director Parker Finn, has basically turned that irrefutable concept into a genuinely scary, impressively clever horror movie. Sosie Bacon plays Rose, a psychiatric doctor whose unresolved childhood trauma is exacerbated following a horrific episode with a patient. This leads Rose into a nightmarish world of terror and uncertainty characterized by a crazed, daemonic smile.
What makes Smile so clever is how it physicalises internal trauma, turning the hollow epithet ‘smile through the pain’, into something genuinely terrifying. Top marks.
Length: 1h 55m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 76% | Metacritic: 72%
Moonage Daydream – Out Now
One for all the Bowie fans in the house – so 99% of you most likely.
Directed by Brett Morgan, (who also directed the brilliant Cobain: Montage of Heck), Moonage Daydream is the best Bowie documentary to date.
The film uses never-before-seen archival footage of Bowie, montaging clips together to encapsulate Bowie’s own trans-cosmic sense of the spectacular. It shows how David Bowie transcended himself when he became Bowie, and how a generation of fans transcended whatever ordained parameter they existed in, to become like Bowie.
Any film about David Bowie must not just be about the music, but about the newness, the vibrancy and the power to reimagine, and Moonage Daydream does this in its own Bowie-esque way.
Length: 2h 20m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 93% | Metacritic: 85%
The Woman King – Out Now
This autumn’s big, bold action romp, starring Viola Davies as the eponymous woman king, is an exercise of blistering retribution, of subverting expectation and just generally being very, very bad-ass.
Viola Davies plays Agojie, the leader of an all-female fighting force in the 19th-century west African Dahomey kingdom. She’s a brutal, no-nonsense trailblazer, commanding like Achilles, fearsome like Leonidas. You get the vibe. Agojie must train a new generation of warriors to fight against colonists and slave masters who have come to pillage Africa for their gain.
The film is a thoroughly enjoyable, jumped-up slice of historical fiction; light on the history, heavy on the fiction. This is a film that doesn’t necessarily want to educate you on the myriad history of female warriors, but wants to entertain you with its epic scale, and show you that big-budget blockbusters don’t have to follow the same template as before.
Length: 2h 14m | Rating: 15 | Rotten Tomatoes: 94% | Metacritic: 77%
A month of horror at Prince Charles Cinema – October
London’s best cinema is running an extensive collection of horror movies this October.
The sheer multitudinous, down-right eclectic nature of the horror genre will be on full, bloody show on The Prince Charles’ retro, silver screen. Expect eerie pre-colour older-than-old-school horrors like Frankenstein (1931) and Nosferatu (1921), 80s/90s genre-enlivening slasher movies like Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Scream 2 (1991), right up to a host of modern classics like Hereditary (2018) and The Witch (2015).
That list only covers about 5% of the horror films showing at Prince Charles this October, so have a peruse of their digital catalogue and go be enthralled, terrified and vaguely aroused by the greatest movie genre of all time.
Details: 7 Leicester Pl, London WC2H 7BY | For more information, visit their website here.
Lost King – 7th October
Lowkey excavation stories about oddball historians searching for buried secrets in the English countryside is the new action blockbuster.
From BBC’s wildly popular TV show The Detectorists to Netflix’s 2021 release The Dig, and now with Steve Coogan’s The Lost King, we are witnessing a wholesome resurgence in archaeology stories, where spiritual fulfilment is achieved in the sifting through dirt, brier and bramble to touch the entombed bones of rulers long-gone.
The Lost King is like the Da Vinci code for amateur history buffs. Written by Steve Coogan, and starring Sally Hawkins, the film traces the uphill struggle of historian Philippa Langley to convince the academic and historical establishment of her suspicion that King Richard III is buried beneath a Leicester car park.
Length: 1h 48m |Rating: 12 | Rotten Tomatoes: 72% | Metacritic: 62%
Amsterdam – 7th October
From David O Russel (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), comes a high-octane, high-concept drama/comedy set in the 1930s, starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington. Amsterdam’s cast is glitzy and grandiose – there are supporting roles for Taylor Swift, Robert DeNiro, Anya Taylor-Joy and Rami Malek.
On its most basic level, Amsterdam is about three friends who witness a murder, thereby embroiling themselves in a bizarre conspiracy at the heart of the American government. The film has whiffs of Wes Anderson, and Christian Bale is brilliant as ever. Amsterdam has wit and genuine originality in bounds, two things increasingly rare to find in the movie theatre.
Length: 2h 14m |Rating:15 | Rotten Tomatoes: N/A | Metacritic: N/A
The Banshees of Inisherin – 21st October
The glorious triumvirate is back. Director Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who teamed up so fantastically for In Bruges, one of the best British comedies of the last 20 years, have returned with this existentially bleak, jet-black comedy of the highest calibre.
Set on the fictional Irish island of Inisherin in 1923, Banshees is a tale as old as time, a tale as essential to storytelling as it is to anyone who has ever lived; it is a tale of hurt male feelings. It is also about not liking someone to such a dramatic degree that every time they talk to you, you cut your own fingers off, which is metaphorical, if not literally, relatable.
The Banshees of Inshirin is the top pick of the month, and maybe even the top pick of the autumn.
Length: 1h 54m |Rating: 12 | Rotten Tomatoes: 100% | Metacritic: N/A
Now you’ve picked a film… book in to see it in one of London’s best cinemas
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