Please, oh please let this extraordinary film emerge an awards season contender.
Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade, the year's best picture thus far, is a remarkable coming-of-age tale, just as sharp and insightful as last year's Lady Bird. It also happens to boast two performances richly deserving of Oscar conversation - leading lady Elsie Fisher and the superb Josh Hamilton, whose turn marks one of the great big screen dads of recent years.
Eighth Grade centers on Kayla Day (Fisher), a 13-year-old navigating her way through the final week of the hellish nightmare that has been eighth grade. Kayla, like the vast majority of her peers, is infatuated with social media and she goes one step further, constantly posting motivational videos on YouTube, aimed at providing fellow eighth graders with the tools necessary for school survival.
Alas, these videos attract close to zero views and Kayla herself is having the most aggravating time getting through middle school. Her dad Mark (Hamilton) adores Kayla but struggles to connect with her as she spends nearly every minute at home with her eyes glued to either her smartphone or laptop.
The final week proves a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. There are suffocating events, like Kayla's invitation to a pool party hosted by icy classmate Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere), and more positive encounters, like when she meets Kennedy's lovably odd cousin Gabe (Jake Ryan) and gets to shadow a cool high school senior (Emily Robinson). For better or worse, Kayla's world is turned upside down over these final days and through it all, keeping a careful eye on her, is Mark, with all of his unconditional love.
Eighth Grade is often spine-tingling in the way it so vividly and perceptively captures this harrowing time in life and, for every moment that'll leave you erupting in laughter (like nearly every moment featuring Aiden, the apple of Kayla's eye), there's another guaranteed to make you cry. Fisher and Hamilton share a devastating scene toward the end of the picture that recalls Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg in last year's Call Me By Your Name - and frankly, might be even better.
Fingers crossed A24, which has been gangbusters in recent years in generating recognition for its pictures, goes all-in on this masterful film.