The most exciting movies at the Chicago International Film Festival

CIFF brings the best new cinema to the city from all over the world, October 9-23. Here are the films we're most excited about

The Chicago International Film Festival hits the big 5-0 this year. To celebrate its golden anniversary, CIFF is reviving some seminal movies from the past five decades. Which is why you'll find classic flicks by Ingmar Bergman and Miloš Forman on this list. There is fresh stuff, too, of course. Like the Oscar-buzzy performance of beloved Benedict Cumberbatch as computer pioneer Alan Turing, and the continuing comeback of Michael Keaton in Birdman. Here are the 11 movies we're itching to watch this year.

RECOMMENDED: Chicago International Film Festival guide

All showings are at AMC River East 21, except for White Material at Music Box.

The Babadook

5 out of 5 stars

The Babadook is femalecentric in ways that other horror movies, while often dominated by tough "final girls," rarely are.

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Birdman

5 out of 5 stars

We know Alejandro González Iñárritu has a dark side (just watch Amores Perros), and it's not entirely hidden here, but it's also beautiful and, at times, unexpected.

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Fanny and Alexander

5 out of 5 stars

The saga of the Ekdahl family, spanning approximately 1907–1908, famously contains several Bergman biographical elements and a summation of lifelong themes.

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The Imitation Game

4 out of 5 stars

Hidden codes, secret meanings and mixed messages pulse through the reliable, old-fashioned, buzzing copper wires of this true-life British period drama with Benedict Cumberbatch.

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The Look of Silence

5 out of 5 stars

The Look of Silence is recent MacArthur Genius Grant winner Joshua Oppenheimer's staggering follow-up to his haunting documentary The Act of Killing.

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National Gallery

5 out of 5 stars

For his latest institutional exploration, the great documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his inquisitive lens on the employees, patrons and paintings in London’s National Gallery.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

4 out of 5 stars

The movie belongs to Jack Nicholson, modulating his more subtle work in Chinatown and Five Easy Pieces to play Randle, a charming criminal who's managed to get himself transferred to a mental institution.

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Timbuktu

4 out of 5 stars

“Don’t kill him—wear him down.” Those are among the first words we hear in Abderrahmane Sissako’s devastating African drama Timbuktu.

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Two Days, One Night

5 out of 5 stars

As filmmakers, the Dardenne brothers are never less than reliable, yet still, Two Days, One Night feels like one of their best.

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White Material

4 out of 5 stars

One of a handful of great artists working in French cinema today, Claire Denis returns to Africa for the first time since Beau Travail for a mesmerising portrait of civil war, racial tension and one woman’s resistance to change in an unnamed, French-speaking African country.

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