5 amazing (and amazingly unlikely) choices for this year’s surprise film

Monday September 20th 2010

From 9:30am this morning, BFI members can book tickets for this year’s London Film Festival. It remains to be seen which galas will sell the fastest, and which films will show to miniscule crowds, but there is one thing of which we can be certain: the first thing to sell out will be the Surprise Film.

Last year’s choice, Capitalism: A Love Story, may have dampened some peoples’ faith in the format, but plenty of audiece members will still be holding out for another No Country or The Wrestler and chances are, they’ll get one.

Inevitably, it’ll be something like Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere that ends up in the slot, but here are five self-consciously populist choices that would fit the bill even better.

Imagine how genuinely exciting it would be to arrive at the Vue West End on the 24th and be given a pair of 3D glasses. Sure it would narrow the possibilities down a fair bit, but it would also mean that there was a 25% chance that you were moments from seeing Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 1). Obviously the chances are actually almost nil because it’s not out anywhere in the world until mid-November and London just isn’t that important, but I can dream, can’t I?

Part of me (the brain part) knows that this will be shit, but I still can’t help wanting to see it more than almost all of the so-called ‘Oscar Contenders’. It happens to me every time with Tony Scott movies: the trailers are so well cut and jam-packed with explosions that I get tricked into thinking they might actually be amazing. And then, with a frequency matched only by the appearances of Denzel Washington in said movies, they let me down. I’m looking at you, The Taking of Pelham 123.

I’m not even that excited about Machete. After all, it’s a Robert Rodriguez movie. But imagine how stoked the crowd would be to see an exploitation spoof starring Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan and Daryl Sabara rather than a drama about ‘relationships’ and ‘feelings’ starring Liam Neeson or some shit. Surely it’s worth putting it on just for the sake of making topical jokes about Lohan’s drug habit. Hebron’s script writers would have a field day.
Everyone seems to be a bit down on this, but everyone needs to consider the fact that they’re fucking mental, because Gondry’s big-screen Hornet adaptation looks absolutely off-the-chart amazing. I don’t know why I’ve included it in this list – it won’t even be completed by October because they’re converting it to 3D (INSERT TOTALLY UNIQUE AND IN NO WAY TIRED AND LAZY OPINION ABOUT 3D) but I’m always looking for an excuse to mention how excited I am about the whole thing.
Not only is this third entry in the Jackass canon my most eagerly-anticipated movie of 2010, but it could well be The Perfect Surprise Film. It’s bound to be an effortless audience-pleaser and has just enough highbrow/lowbrow ambiguity to pass for a festival film whilst also bringing the LOLs. Plus, it’s short enough that everyone goes home ready to tweet about what an amazing time they had, rather than stumbling out at 11pm and angrily typing ‘MICHAEL MOORE FTL’.