1) Good: Beasts of the Southern Wild
The last couple of years have offered some extremely thoughtful and beautifully executed ruminations on childhood and emotional confusion presented from the point of view of young characters. One of the greatest and most unexpected of these was 2012’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, and its lead character, Hushpuppy.
Maybe it’s a bit weird to have a 9-year-old compete against grown adults for acting awards, but the groundswell of support that led to Quvenzhané Wallis’ Oscar nomination (the youngest nominee in history) was a result of the strength of her character and her ability to simply be in front of the camera. Having child actors appear this natural is a rare thing. It also was essential for the movie to work, and for it to find the middle ground between being on one side overly patronizing, and on the other, unaware of itself.
We see the story, and the place (the Bathtub), almost entirely from Hushpuppy’s eyes, getting an understanding of her perspective and by extension, the perspective of what would draw a person to live in what most would consider to be unsavory living conditions. When her narration seems out of place it’s only because she’s being given words to express complex feelings that are hard for a child to articulate.
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