[Editor's Note: In this series Film Experience contributors are individually highlighting their favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Deborah Lipp on The Spectacular Now.]
Dear Voters of the Academy: Think Small. I know it’s Oscar season, and I know you want to think Big Space (Gravity) and Big Epic (The Butler), but sometimes, small is beautiful. Sometimes, small is The Spectacular Now.
Consider the delicacy with which this movie sits inside the pocket of being young, and confused, and feeling alone, and makes you feel it too. Consider that Teen Romance Movie Clichés could fill an encyclopedia, and that this movie deftly steps past all of them, to arrive at an intimacy of both dialogue and unspoken moments that create a sense of presence so very rare in the movies.
The Spectacular Now has three genuinely striking performances: Its two leads (Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) and a supporting turn by Kyle Chandler, playing disturbingly against type.
Movies about disconnected people can feel distant, but, as Aimee (Woodley) and Sutter (Teller) find each other, we feel close, and connected. With striking honesty, The Spectacular Now gives us sad and fumbling youth, the relief of having someone else there, and the painful knowledge that it isn’t enough.