Short Term 12 (2013)
Destin Daniel Cretton, USA
Brie Larson is an amazing actress, and that was true well before she won an academy award. She had some pretty great supporting performances before 2013, but with Short Term 12, she made it known to the world that she was more than just great. Let's start with the movie itself. One of its biggest accomplishments is assembling a team of young performers who all give equally impressive performances. The casting choices in this film are all on point, and each performance feels mature and nuanced from beginning to end. Dramatic things happen in Short Term 12, but Destin Daniel Cretton chooses to take a relatively subdued approach at every turn, and it works great for the film. Anchoring all this subdued drama is Larson's Grace - a strong-willed protagonist who has a hint of vulnerability whenever it counts. Her performance is full of subtleties, and rather than overshadowing the entire film as one might expect, she shines bright, while also allowing the spot light to shift towards her co-stars. What she does here is absolutely fantastic. She might have garnered more awards recognition for Room, but in my honest opinion, she's even better in Short Term 12.