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– by Daniel Tafoya

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Not just because the holiday season is right around the corner, though. For film fans in Los Angeles, this time of year means the return of the AFI FEST presented by Audi. AFI FEST is a long-running film festival that presents a diverse array of films from midnight shockers to World Premieres of prestige dramas, such as Richard Jewell this year. They have it all, including indie American films, documentaries and an always reliable selection of World Cinema.

I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 most anticipated films at the festival, but there are plenty more worth checking out. More info on films and ticketing for AFI Fest can be found at afifest.afi.com.

5. Alan Pakula: Going for Truth– As part of a tribute to the great director Alan Pakula, which includes free screenings of his films such as Klute and Sophie’s Choice, the festival also features a showing of this documentary about the filmmaker. It includes interviews with many of his collaborators, including Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Dustin Hoffman.

4. Deerskin– Quentin Dupieux, who has made such enjoyably weird films as Rubber and Wrong, brings us this tale of a man who becomes so obsessed with his new designer deerskin jacket that it drives him to murder and madness. The Artist’s Jean Dujardin stars in what promises to be an odd & violent film.

3. A Hidden Life– Famously reclusive master director Terence Malick returns with what is said to be his best film since 2011’s Tree of Life. It tells the story of a pacifist Austrian farmer who takes a stand and refuses to fight for the Nazis during World War II.

2. Richard Jewell– Clint Eastwood dramatizes the true story of the security guard who found a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, saving many a life, only to later be considered a suspect and have his name smeared in the media. Paul Walter Hauser, who had standout performances in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, plays the lead, and the film features supporting turns by Sam Rockwell and Kathy Bates.

1. The Two Popes– From Fernando Meirelles, the director of City of God, comes this film based on a true-life meeting at the Vatican between the departing Pope Benedict and the soon to be elected Pope Francis. Played by Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce respectively, this two hander drama is said to feature award-worthy performances from both veteran actors.

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