Film Daily’s 2016 standout: ‘The Edge of Seventeen’
It’s 2017. This Sunday, while the world faced a collective hangover from the past year – mourning beloved celebrities, along with the USA and EU as we knew them – the Golden Globes awards show blasted through the news. The yearly event staged in glittering Hollywood to “bring a little joy into our humdrum lives” entered its 74th year, and while the nominees showed more range than usual, Hollywood still has a long way to go in demonstrating the great diversity of people living in the States.
The darling of the night was La La Land, a film widely criticized for foregrounding a drastically underwritten female protagonist. (See also Passengers, the Chris Pratt / Jennifer Lawrence stalker fantasy. Production company Nuclear Family created an awesome parody around this trope which you can watch here.)
This week, we decided to dedicate Film Daily’s post to our best movie picks of 2016, highlighting filmmakers and subjects that are important to us. Today’s pick is The Edge of Seventeen, written and directed by first-time director Kelly Fremon Craig and starring Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Hayden Szeto, Blake Jenner, Woody Harrelson and Kyra Sedgwick.
Kelly Fremon Craig has cited John Hughes as an influence on her work, and although we can see some parallels, the characters from her debut feature are more fully realized than the generic adolescent clichés force-fed to us on celluloid historically. Her coming-of-age story is abrasive, emotional, confusing, and vulnerable and, like all teenagers, filled with reality and tenderness.
By telling the story of a teenager ruled by her emotions, Craig allows protagonist Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role) to play out like a real person, one who can be hard to contend with at times. The result of an excellent screenplay, a fantastic supporting cast, and solid direction is that this low-budget movie has guts, warmth, and reality, creating real engagement between viewer and characters.
Though it didn’t set the box office on fire, we believe The Edge of Seventeen is destined for cult status in the coming years. It has picked up several award nominations and plaudits, including the Women Film Critics Circle for best young actress, and the New York Film Critics Circle Best First Film award. We can’t wait to watch whatever Kelly Fremon Craig does next.
If you didn’t realize sexism is still alive and well in Tinseltown, you can read all about the phenomenally talented young actress Lola Kirke and her hairy armpits.