The Fifties for 2013: Best Ensemble
Clip — Fill the Void — Frances Ha — In the Fog — No
Byzantium — Frances Ha — The Place Beyond the Pines — Short Term 12 — The Spectacular Now
JOE: To begin with, not to bypass Greta Gerwig's significant contributions to her film, but can we talk about making difficult on-paper characters work? That's what I think Mickey Sumner and Michael Zegen do as, respectively, borderline unbearable and horrible-at-times friend Sophie and idle hipster shithead Benji. It helps that, for once, Noah Baumbach isn't out for blood at all times. Still, I think so much about those characters and the ability of the audience to find them at odd angles comes from the performers' dedication to allowing the audience to laugh at them while not entirely dismissing them. I'd love a supercut of all the times Benji and Frances bat the word "undateable" back at each other, for example. Each time, it means something a bit different. Anyway, the great performances don't stop there, and whether it's Adam Driver doing his Adam Driver thing (blunt and sexy and Wrong For You) or Grace Gummer doing her Grace Gummer thing (all the brittleness that her mom and sister shrug off their shoulders resting comfortably atop hers) or Charlotte D'Amboise looking at Frances and wondering how (or if) she's going to tell this girl what's good for her. Whose Frances supporting performance tickled your fancy the most?
NICK: You mentioned most of my favorite players in Frances Ha, a movie of which I have fond but not total recall. D'Amboise is a treat every second she's up there. Otherwise, bits and players run together a little for me, while I principally recall a mood and a milieu. The great ensemble work is responsible for that, particularly in scenes like the bad dinner party where Frances is being a doofus and Grace Gummer is sucking lemons about having invited this nut to live with her, even temporarily. Am I crazy for thinking I was on Sumner's side of her fights with Gerwig more often than the reverse? We might have related to the movie differently, or I might just be mistaken, but it's a tribute to the whole ensemble, Gerwig included, that it evokes so many points of view and so many possible takes on multiple, colorful characters that you don't dislike even if you're not too eager to meet them in real life.
I've already said a fair bit about Clip, with its gutsy Serbian youngsters playing dissolutes, brats, aggressors, self-exploiters, and risk-addicts, and about Fill the Void, whose characters are the diametric opposite of everything I just said about Clip while still negotiating a complex web of tensions. I don't think even these films would rival Frances Ha for my winner in this category, if I were picking a winner. My fifth pick was No, just in over War Witch and Place Beyond the Pines. Even though I know you liked the film, you didn't list it here. Not that impressed?
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