The best and brightest in American and foreign films will once again be just a short trip away on the 1 train.
This Friday, the New York Film Festival returns to Lincoln Center for its 51st year, with a number of incredibly noteworthy films. The festival kicks off on Friday night with Paul Greengrass’ action thriller, “Captain Philips.” Tom Hanks stars in this tale that is based on the true story about one man’s resistance to a Somali pirate takeover. After what is sure to be an exciting opening, the main slate continues onward with Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, “The Wind Rises.” Here, the animation master takes a look at the life story of Jiro Horikoshi, whose dreams of flight led him to design the planes that the Japanese army used during World War II.
Outside of the main slate, the festival has secured Steve McQueen’s slavery epic “12 Years a Slave” as a part of its Film Comment Selects section. The film is pegged as an early Oscar contender and stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery.
This festival historically favors films from Cannes Film Festival, and this year is no exception. Some films from the French festival include Alain Guiraudie’s psychosexual drama “Stranger by the Lake,” and J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford’s high-seas thriller “All Is Lost.”
However, some of the bigger names from Cannes include Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” a drama in which Cannes Best Actor-winner Bruce Dern takes his son Will Forte to the titular Midwestern state to collect a clearinghouse check for $1 million. Joel and Ethan Coen’s Grand-Prix-winning, Greenwich Village-based folk music phenomenon, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” also came from Cannes. “Davis” stars Oscar Isaac as a musician trying to make it in the interlude between the end of the classical musical stylings of the 1950s and the rise of Bob Dylan.
The NYFF’s most anticipated highlight, however, might be “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” a three-hour romantic drama about a lesbian relationship, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. Critics continue to talk about “Blue,” and it is sure to make a splash when it premieres in New York.
The gala centerpiece of the festival this year is Ben Stiller’s adaptation of James Thurber’s classic short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller plays the titular working-class schmo, and Kristen Wiig co-stars as his love interest. The festival will close on Oct. 13 with Spike Jonze’s futuristic “Her.” The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, who plays a man who falls in love with a computer, for which Scarlett Johansson provides the voice.
Aside from the main slate, the festival will also feature a Jean-Luc Godard retrospective, a sidebar about the intersection of technology and storytelling and a series of talks with numerous directors. Not so surprisingly, this year’s NYFF lineup might be overwhelming, but no matter what you choose to attend, you cannot be disappointed.
Charlie Spector is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]