The Playbook For The Modern Man

10 Incredible Films You Need To See At Sydney Film Festival

Full screen
1 of 10|Paterson
2 of 10|Gimme Danger
3 of 10|The Handmaiden
4 of 10|Elvis & Nixon
5 of 10|High-Rise
6 of 10|Goldstone
7 of 10|Down Under
8 of 10|Mr. Pig
9 of 10|Captain Fantastic
10 of 10|Swiss Army Man

We’re about to kick off the long weekend and if you hadn’t planned anything because of the apocalyptic weather we’ve been experiencing this week then it might be a good chance to sink your teeth into some new silver screen action.

The 2016 Sydney Film Festival kicked off this Wednesday and until the 19th of June will be serving up a jam packed program of weird, wonderful and pretty damn incredible films featuring some of Hollywood’s most recognisable faces, as well as a handful of newcomers.

Here are our top 10 picks for the films you need to see at Sydney Film Festival this year.


#1 Paterson

Iconic director Jim Jarmusch is the brains behind two films showing at the festival this year and one of them is ‘Paterson’. Paterson chronicles the mundane life of bus driver and poet Paterson (played by Adam Driver of The Force Awakens) as he moseys his way through the days in his town (also called Paterson) writing, driving and drinking at the pub and adoring his beautiful artist wife, Laura who has dreams of a country music career.

Seems like a simple storyline but it’s all about the delicacy in the delivery and storytelling with this Jarmusch gem.

#2 Gimme Danger

Jarmusch’s second addition to the Sydney Film Festival is ‘Gimme Danger’, this time a documentary about legendayr punk band, The Stooges.

“I was on acid in more than several of the clips in the movie when I was young,” said Iggy Pop at Cannes last month. “I would go from feeling very aggressive to breaking out in laughter.”

If you love The Stooges, or just music in general, then Gimme Danger is a must-see.

#3 The Handmaiden

If you were a fan of Park Chan-wook’s previous masterpieces like ‘Old Boy’ or ‘Stoker’, then you’ll love his latest endeavour, ‘The Handmaiden’.

Inspired by the Sarah Water novel ‘Fingersmith’ set in 1930’s colonial Japan and Korea, The Handmaiden is arguably one of Sydney Film Festival’s sexiest, most erotically-charged films centred around a haindmaiden for an isolated Japanese heiress.

#4 Elvis & Nixon

Everyone recognises the iconic photo of Elvis Presley shaking hands with Richard Nixon. In fact, out of every photo in the American National Archive, it’s the most requested photo of all time.


Fitting then, that Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon have come together to recreate the historical meeting of the two egos in ‘Elvis & Nixon’, a highlight of this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

#5 High-Rise

Bonafide man of style Tom Hiddleston makes his Sydney Film Festival debut in sexy, bizarre, dystopian drama ‘High-Rise’.

Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, High-Rise stars Hiddleston along with Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans and Elizabeth Moss as residents of a decadent, brutalism-styled high-rise apartment complex that bans contact with the outside world before things go pear-shaped (and darkly comical) when an electrical circuit starts shorting out.

#6 Goldstone

Australian western ‘Goldstone’ opened the Sydney Film Festival with a bang. Homegrown stars Jacki Weaver, Alex Russell, David Wenham and Aaron Pederson appear in the beautiful, chilling and intelligent “spiritual sequel” to 2013’s Mystery Road.

#7 Down Under

A provocative black comedy set during the aftermath of the Cronulla Rights, Down Under focuses on two groups of hotheads from both sides of the fight who are destined to collide.

Down Under dares to explore the funny side of a very ugly situation, using and skewering the expected cultural stereotypes.

#8 Mr. Pig

Saturday Night Live staple Maya Rudolph and Danny Glover find roles worthy of their significant talent in Diego Luna’s tender Mexican road movie about a father, his daughter and a hog named Howard.

Mr. Pig’s poetic yet unsentimental story of a flawed man’s final journey contemplates modernity and tradition in an age of global markets, factory farming, and disposable relationships.

#9 Captain Fantastic

Fresh from Sundance and Cannes, Viggo Mortenson gives one his best performances in Captain Fantastic playing a father raising his children far from the modern world.

In a stretch of Washington forest far from ‘civilised’ American society, the children are taught Marxism, martial arts and hunting as part of a unique homeschool curriculum. Eventually, a tragedy requires them to reintegrate into wider society, with surprising, amusing and moving results.


#10 Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man is a ‘unique’ comedy starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe that was recognised as one of the most divisive films at Sundance and triggered walkouts but went on to win the Directing Prize.

Daniel Radcliffe plays a flatulent corpse whom a wilderness-stranded Paul Dano rides to safety in what could be one of Sydney Film Festival’s strangest and most intriguing additions.


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