Back to School Part II #47: The Diary of a Teenage Girl (dir by Marielle Heller)


thediaryofateenagegirl_newtheatricalposter

Sometimes, the best way to defend a controversial film is to take a look at some of the people who have criticized it.  That’s certainly the case with 2015’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

First off, you have so-called critic and professional troll Jeff Wells, who landed in some hot water when he complained that the star of the film, Bel Powley, wasn’t attractive enough for him.  Never mind that he thought the rest of the film was intriguing, he simply could not get over the fact that Powley was not conventionally attractive.  Never mind, of course, that Powley (who was 23 at the time) was supposed to be playing a 15 year-old and that she gave one of the best and most honest performances of the year or that the film itself was about much more than just sex.  Jeff Wells wasn’t turned on and therefore, by his logic, the film failed.

And then you have Sasha Stone, the editor of Awards Daily.  Sasha claims to be a feminist and uses her site to regularly scold any actress who she thinks isn’t living up to Sasha’s idea of what a feminist should be.  Sasha is the same blogger who announced that her life mission was to “educate” Shailene Woodley and who threatened to never again report on any of Susan Sarandon’s movies because Sarandon was critical of Hillary Clinton.  Oddly enough, Sasha is also the online film community’s number one enabler of Jeff Wells, regularly providing cover for him whenever he makes one of his patented misogynistic remarks.

Anyway, Sasha absolutely hated The Diary of a Teenage Girl.  In fact, she hated it to such an extent that she’s probably still cursing about it on twitter.  Oddly enough, Sasha has never really stated why she hates Diary with such a passion.  I mean, here we have an honest film about coming-of-age, one that ends on a note of empowerment.  It’s a film that was both written and directed by a woman and it’s based on a graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner.  This is an important film.  As far as I can tell, it appears that Sasha’s hatred was linked to the fact that apparently, she saw the film in a theater that was full of men and she felt that this film was specifically designed to appeal to “dirty old men.”

Which is bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure there are dirty old men who went to see The Diary of a Teenage Girl.  That’s just a fact of life.  When you have a film about a sexually active 15 year-old, it is going to attract certain people.  That, however, is not the film’s fault.  In fact, the film’s straight-forward approach to sexuality was probably the exact opposite of what most of those pervs were looking for.

The film’s protagonist is Minnie Goetze (played, as previously stated, by Bel Powley).  In 1976, she is 15 years old and living in San Francisco with her irresponsible (and, as becomes apparent as the film plays out, rather unstable) mother (Kristin Wiig).  Minnie is an aspiring cartoonist, an independent and intelligent teenager who often feels as if she’s separated from the rest of the world.  (The film makes good use of animation to visualize Minnie’s isolation.)  After losing her virginity to him, Minnie ends up having an affair with her mother’s handsome loser of a boyfriend (played by Alexander Skarsgard)….

When The Diary of a Teenage Girl was first released, so much attention was paid to the fact that 15 year-old Minnie was sexually active and frequently seen using drugs that many reviewers missed the fact that the film ultimately celebrates Minnie’s intelligence, independence, and her imagination.  Speaking for myself, after sitting through a countless number of teen films which either idealized virginity or insisted on punishing any sexually active teen with either pregnancy or an STD, The Diary of a Teenage Girl was actually a welcome change of pace.

Unfortunately, many critics have made the mistake of assuming that just because The Diary of a Teenage Girl does not judge, it therefore supports all of Minnie’s decisions.  Despite what some critics claim, Diary of a Teenage Girl does not glamorize anything that Minnie does.  (Many of the film’s sex scenes are deliberately filmed to be as unerotic as possible.)  At the same time, the film doesn’t feel the need to dispense out any sort of karmic punishment, either.  Instead, it’s a film that suggests that Minnie, like everyone else, is exploring and trying to discover what’s right for her.  In the end, the message of this film is that the most important thing is to love yourself and to find your own happiness.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl is an engrossing and well-made coming-of-age story.  I can’t wait to see what director Marielle Heller does next.

 

Here’s What Won At the 31st Independent Spirit Awards!


Spotlight

As always happens on the Saturday before the Oscars, the Independent Spirit Awards were handed out today.  Here’s what won!

Best Feature
Spotlight

Best Director
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Female Lead
Brie Larson, Room

Best Male Lead
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation

Best Supporting Female
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation

Best Cinematography
Ed Lachman, Carol

Best Screenplay
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight

Best Editing
Tom McArdle, Spotlight

Best International Film
Son of Saul

Best Documentary
The Look of Silence

Best First Screenplay
Emma Donoghue, Room

Best First Feature
The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Robert Altman Award
Spotlight

John Cassavettes Award
Krisha

I’m happy with these awards, largely because Sasha Stone of Awards Daily hates The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

The Oscars are tomorrow night!  And then, it’ll be time to start predicting what will be nominated next year!

Here Are The Dorian Award Nominees!


Carol_(film)_POSTER

The Dorian Awards are handed out by the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Film Critics Association.  Here are their film nominations for 2015.

FILM OF THE YEAR
The Big Short / Paramount, Regency
Brooklyn / Fox Searchlight
Carol / The Weinstein Company
Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show
Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look

DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR
(Film or Television)
Sean Baker, Tangerine / Magnolia Pictures
Todd Haynes, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu, The Revenant / Fox
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR — ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Brie Larson, Room / A24
Rooney Mara, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years / Sundance Selects
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn / Fox Searchlight

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR — ACTOR
Matt Damon, The Martian / Fox
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant / Fox
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs / Universal
Tom Hardy, Legend / Universal, Cross Creek
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title

LGBTQ FILM OF THE YEAR
Carol / The Weinstein Company
The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title
Freeheld / Summit
Grandma / Sony Pictures Classics
Tangerine / Magnolia Pictures

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
The Assassin / Central Motion Pictures, Well Go USA
Mustang / Cohen Media Group
Phoenix / Sundance Selects
Son of Saul / Sony Pictures Classics
Viva / Magnolia Pictures

SCREENPLAY OF THE YEAR
Emma Donoghue, Room / A24
Phyllis Nagy, Carol / The Weinstein Company
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short / Paramount, Regency
Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, Spotlight / Open Road, Participant, First Look
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs / Universal

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR
(theatrical release, TV airing or DVD release)
Amy / A24
Best of Enemies / Magnolia Pictures, Magnet
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief / HBO
Making a Murderer / Netflix
What Happened, Miss Simone? / Netflix

VISUALLY STRIKING FILM OF THE YEAR
(honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography)
Carol / The Weinstein Company
The Danish Girl / Focus, Working Title
Mad Max: Fury Road / Warner Bros., Village Road Show
The Martian / Fox
The Revenant / Fox

UNSUNG FILM OF THE YEAR
The Diary of a Teenage Girl / Sony Pictures Classics
Ex Machina / A24
Grandma / Sony Pictures Classics
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl / Fox Searchlight
Tangerine (Magnolia)

CAMPY FLICK OF THE YEAR
The Boy Next Door
Fifty Shades of Grey
Magic Mike XXL
Jupiter Ascending
Stonewall

Here Are The DGA Nominations!


The Directors Guild of America announced their nominees today!  The DGA is usually one of the best of the Oscar precursors.  Getting a DGA nomination usually translates to a Best Picture nomination.

Here are the nominees.  There really aren’t any surprises among them, though, based on its strength with the other guilds, I did think that Steven Spielberg might sneak in there with Bridge of Spies.

Alejandro G. Inarritu for The Revenant

Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

Adam McKay for The Big Short

George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road

Ridley Scott for The Martian

And here are the nominees for a new award that the DGA is giving out this year!

Outstanding Directorial Achievement for a First-Time Feature Film Director

The nominees are:

Fernando Coimbra, “A Wolf at the Door”
Joel Edgerton, “The Gift”
Alex Garland, “Ex Machina”
Marielle Heller, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”
Laszlo Nemes, “Son of Saul”
The best thing about this new category?  Knowing that Sasha Stone is probably pissed off that Diary of a Teenage Girl received a nomination.

Here Are The Just-Announced Florida Film Critics Circle Nominations!


BEST PICTURE
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
Spotlight
The Big Short
The Martian

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Paul Dano – Love and Mercy
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Elizabeth Banks – Love and Mercy
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
BEST DIRECTOR

Todd Haynes – Carol
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Ridley Scott – The Martian

BEST ENSEMBLE
The Big Short
Mistress America
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton
Tangerine

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Ex Machina
The Hateful Eight
Inside Out
Mistress America
Spotlight

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
Room
Steve Jobs

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario
Youth

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk

BEST ART DIRECTION/ PRODUCTION DESIGN
Brooklyn
Carol
Crimson Peak
Love & Mercy
Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SCORE
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Love & Mercy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
Heart of a Dog
The Look of Silence

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Assassin
Mommy
Mustang
Phoenix
Son of Saul
BEST ANIMATED FILM

Anomalisa
Inside Out
The Good Dinosaur
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

FFCC BREAKOUT AWARD
Bel Powley – Diary of a Teenage Girl
Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez – Tangerine
Jacob Tremblay – Room
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina and The Danish Girl

The Las Vegas Film Critics Announces A Huge Amount of Nominations!


Creed

Here are the nominations for the Las Vegas Film Critics!  They loved Creed but, for some reason, not Saoirse Ronan!

Best Picture
1. Spotlight
2. Creed
3. Ex Machina
4. Straight Outta Compton
5. Beasts of No Nation

Best Director
1. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
2. Ridley Scott (The Martian)
3. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
4. Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
5. Ryan Coogler (Creed)

Best Actor
1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
2. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
3. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
4. Matt Damon (The Martian)
5. Michael B. Jordan (Creed)

Best Actress
1. Emily Blunt (Sicario)
2. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
3. Brie Larson (Room)
4. Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
5. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Supporting Actor
1. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
2. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
3. Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
4. Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
5. Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)

Best Supporting Actress
1. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
2. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
3. Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
4. Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy)
5. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Best Screenplay (Original)
1. Ex Machina
2. Inside Out
3. Spotlight
4. Trainwreck
5. The Hateful Eight

Best Screenplay (Adapted)

1. Steve Jobs
2. The Martian

3. Room
4. Brooklyn
5. The Big Short

Best Cinematography
1. Roger Deakins (Sicario)
2. Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
3. John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)
4. Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
5. Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight)

Best Film Editing
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. The Martian
3. Spotlight
4. Steve Jobs
5. The Revenant

Best Art Direction
1. The Hateful Eight
2. Brooklyn
3. The Danish Girl
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. The Martian


Best Costume Design

1. The Hateful Eight
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
3. The Danish Girl
4. Carol
5. Cinderella

Best Visual Effects
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Ex Machina
3. The Martian
4. The Walk
5. In the Heart of the Sea

Best Score
1. The Danish Girl
2. The Revenant
3. Spotlight
4. Sicario
5. The Hateful Eight

Best Song
1. ‘See You Again’ (Furious 7)
2. ‘One Kind of Love’ (Love & Mercy)
3. ‘It’s My Turn Now’ (Dope)
4. ‘Simple Song #3’ (Youth)
5. ‘Writing’s on the Wall’ (Spectre)

Best Ensemble
1. The Big Short
2. The Hateful Eight
3. Straight Outta Compton
4. Trumbo
5. Spotlight

Best Animated Film
1. Anomalisa
2. Inside Out
3. The Good Dinosaur
4. Shaun the Sheep Movie
5. The Peanuts Movie

Best Documentary
1. Meru
2. Amy
3. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
4. Cartel Land
5. Best of Enemies

Best Foreign Film
1. Goodnight Mommy
2. Mustang
3. Phoenix
4. Respire
5. Tu Dors Nicole

Best Action Film
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron
5. Ant-Man

Best Comedy Film
1. Trainwreck
2. The Big Short
3. Dope
4. Sisters
5. Spy

Best Family Film
1. Goosebumps
2. Cinderella
3. Pan
4. Ant-Man
5. Tomorrowland

Best Horror / Sci-Fi Film
1. Ex Machina
2. The Martian
3. Jurassic World
4. It Follows
5. Krampus

Best Breakout Filmmaker
1. Rick Famuyiwa (Dope)
2. Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
3. David Robert Mitchell (It Follows)
4. Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)

Youth in Film Award

1. Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation)
2. Jacob Tremblay (Room)
3. Milo Parker (Mr. Holmes)
4. Shameik Moore (Dope)
5. Imogene Wolodarsky (Infinitely Polar Bear)

Austin Loves Carol!


mara_blanchett_carol

The Austin Film Critics Association announced their nominations earlier today and guess what?  They really, really like Carol!

Love you, Austin!

(I don’t know if I love Carol but seriously, Austin’s the best!)

Best Film:
Anomalisa
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
Spotlight
Trumbo

Best Director:
Todd Haynes, Carol
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Best Actor:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Michael B. Jordan, Creed
Jacob Tremblay, Room

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Supporting Actor:
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress:
Elizabeth Banks, Love & Mercy
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Best Original Screenplay:
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Inside Out
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Taylor Sheridan, Sicario
Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Emma Donoghue, Room
Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs

Best Cinematography:
Roger Deakins, Sicario
Edward Lachman, Carol
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Score:
Carter Burwell, Carol
Michael Giacchino, Inside Out
Tom Holkenborg (as Junkie XL), Max Max: Fury Road
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Rich Vreeland (as Disasterpeace), It Follows

Best Foreign-Language Film:
Mustang
Phoenix
Son of Saul
The Tribe
Victoria

Best Documentary:
Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
Where to Invade Next

Best Animated Film:
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

Best First Film:
Bone Tomahawk
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Ex Machina
Mustang
Son of Saul

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award:
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
Mya Taylor, Tangerine
Jacob Tremblay, Room
Alicia Vikander, Ex-Machina

Best Austin Film:
Arlo and Julie (dir: Steve Mims)
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (dir: Sara Hirsh Bordo)
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (dir: David Zellner)
Peace Officer (dir: Brad Barber, Scott Christopherson)
Two Step (dir: Alex R. Johnson)