And sometimes they go indie and it’s just a big fat mess.
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival wraps up Sunday and the prizes have already been handed out, and even though several films that competed had famous faces attached ― including Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts and Paul Rudd ― it was a more diverse international slate with largely unknown actors that had the audiences swooning. To sum it up, here are the films that got the most attention ― both good and bad. (Sorry, Emma Roberts… better luck next time.)
1. Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors
Director Sam Fleischner earned a “Special Jury Mention” for his drama about a boy with Asperger’s who gets separated from his mother. The film was shooting as Hurricane Sandy hit last fall, which added an unplanned urgency to the film’s gripping finale. Clearly, this kind of timely drama hit home for those who spotted it at Tribeca, with a documentary-like vibe exploring New York City’s subway system ― and the eclectic cast of characters who rides it.
Mad Men’s John Slattery co-stars in this tale of a school bus driver who makes a near-fatal mistake that lands a young child in a coma. Like many Tribeca films, it’s pretty heavy material, but the performances all around got plenty of acclaim from festival-goers.
3. Almost Christmas
Two of the most beloved Pauls in the game, Rudd and Giamatti, team up for a tale of a just-released convict who discovers that his wife is now shacking up with another guy, and teams up with that guy to sell Christmas trees. The long-awaited Junebug follow-up from Phil Morrison has been called dramatically inert and without much substance, meaning these guys might be better off in the big leagues.
4. Run And Jump
You might not think it’s possible to take Saturday Night Live’s Will Forte seriously, but it can happen! Seriously! The patriarch of an Irish family suffers a stroke, which greatly changes the household dynamic. Will plays the man’s doctor… who stays with the family and develops feelings for the man’s wife.
5. The Rocket
The winner of the coveted Best Narrative Feature Award goes to The Rocket, directed by Aussie Kim Mordaunt (a good reason to hug her today). Sitthiphon Disamoe also won the Best Actor prize for this tale of a Laotian boy, believed to be cursed with bad luck, who builds a giant rocket to enter into a contest and change his fate.
6. Adult World
One of the most panned films at this year’s Tribeca is, unfortunately, one that sounds pretty good on paper. Emma Roberts plays a recently college graduate and aspiring poet who finds herself working in adult bookstore, despite her misgivings about sex (she's a virgin), and also tracking down a gruff literary mentor played by John Cusack. Unfortunately, both Emma’s performance and the film overall caught flack for being quirky and annoying, so this doesn't seem to be another breakout indie comedy a la Juno.
7. The Broken Circle Breakdown
Receiving awards for both its screenplay and its lead actress Veerle Baetens, this film from Belgium and the Netherlands is about the jeopardized marriage between a musician and a tattoo artist when their daughter falls very ill. The bluegrass music is said to enhance the resonance of this emotional drama.
8. Before Midnight
It’s no secret that this one is still getting as much good buzz as ever ― the completion to the trilogy started with Before Sunrise finds Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke married with children, somewhat unexpectedly, but dealing with the usual struggle to keep that romantic spark alive during a trip to Greece. It’s one of the most anticipated indies of the year, and has already generated some Oscar buzz.
And a number of documentaries also received plenty of love, with the top prize going to the Afghanistan doc The Kill Team, and praise also for Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me and Oxyana, about an entire community addicted to Oxycontin.
Will you seek out any of these films once they're released to the masses?