Our top picks for the Napa Valley Film Fest

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From Wednesday evening through Sunday night, the Napa Valley Film Festival will screen almost 100 new independent films and studio sneak previews. No pass? No problem. The festival’s premiere films can serve as a must-see guide in the weeks and months ahead. Here are 10 that have the most advance buzz:

“The Front Runner” - The story of American Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign in 1988 as it is derailed when he is caught in a scandalous love affair. Directed by Jason Reitman and starring Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, J.K. Simmons and Alfred Molina.

“The Green Book” - Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on the so-called “Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Directed by Peter Farrelly and also starring Linda Cardellini.

“A Private War” - One of the most celebrated war correspondents of our time, Marie Colvin is a fearless and rebellious spirit, driven to the frontline of conflicts across the globe to give voice to the voiceless. Directed by Matthew Heineman and starring Rosamund Pike, Jamie Dornan, Stanley Tucci and Tom Hollander.

“At Eternity’s Gate” - A look at the life of painter Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Aries and Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Directed by Julian Schnabel and starring Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Mads Mikkelsen and Oscar Isaac.

“Never Look Away” - German artist Kurt Barnert has escaped East Germany and now lives in West Germany but is tormented by his childhood under the Nazis and the GDR-regime. Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and starring Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch and Paula Beer.

“Sgt Stubby: An American Hero” - The animated true story of a stray dog who joins his new master on the battlefields of the World War I. For his valorous actions, Sgt. Stubby is still recognized as the most decorated dog in American history. Directed by Richard Lanni and voiced by Logan Lerman, Helena Bonham Carter and Gerard Depardieu.

“Uncrushable” - The story of the Northern California fires through the eyes of those most affected. Victims who lost homes or businesses, first responders, chefs and winemakers share their harrowing accounts throughout the film, as a fallen community begins to rebuild through the help of its neighbors, chefs and friends. Directed by Tyler Florence.

“Valley of the Boom” – A look at the tech boom of the 1990s in Silicon Valley. Directed by Matthew Carnahan, produced by Arianna Huffington and starring Bradley Whitford, Steve Zahn and Lamorne Morris.

“Vox Lux” - An unusual set of circumstances brings unexpected success to a pop star. Directed by Brady Corbet and starring Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe.

“Wheelman” - A getaway driver for a bank robbery realizes he has been double crossed and races to find out who betrayed him. Directed by Jeremy Rush and starring Frank Grillo.

“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” - Closing the festival on Nov. 11 is director Marina Zenovich’s intimate look into the life and work of the revered comedian and actor.

The festival will also feature 16 narrative and 16 documentary short films.

If you are headed over the hill, the festival will screen at 10 locations in Napa, Yountville and St. Helena, as well as a new drive-in movie venue in Calistoga. More than 300 filmmakers and actors are expected to attend their screenings and special events, and there are daily culinary demonstrations and wine tastings.

Visit www.nvff.org for ticket and pass information and theater times and locations.

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