Thursday, January 17, 2013

Best of '12: Beasts of the Southern Wild


In a million years, when kids go to school, they gonna know: Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in The Bathtub. 

Every once in a while a movie comes along that bravely throws out all of the rules for what a movie should be. Gone are the Hollywood actors. You'll find no catchy pop song in the trailer. There is no sign of a retelling (or remaking) of a classic book/film/comic/fairy tale. Even the idea of what CG can add to a film is completely flipped on its ear.

 Benh Zeitlin is a little more than a year younger than me. Sigh. With his beautiful script in hand he traveled to the Mississippi delta and scouted both his locations and his performers from the native area. This combination of a rookie filmmaker, rookie actors, and an area of the country that is already steeped in mystery, beauty, and pain provides for the perfect imagery for a modern day fable. Zeitlin's role certainly ensured that "Beasts" would be a well accepted art-house treat, but there was one more element that has pushed the movie into conversation for best picture of the year: Miss Quvenzhane' Wallis. At 6 years old, this young lady completely owns the film. There are no long monologues, and most of her speaking is done through narration, but her command of the role of a poor, semi-abandoned girl named Hushpuppy does exactly what every great actress in history has done. Most important, it is impossible for the viewer to avoid Hushpuppy's love, sadness, fear, and utter joy from the movie's opening rejoicing to its closing reflection.

 I still have a handful of 2012 movies to watch, but I find it hard to believe I will see a better movie than this.

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