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Oscar preview: “Little Miss Sunshine”

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By Tyler Davidson

Abigail Breslin is “Little Miss Sunshine.” (A.M.P.A.S.)

By Tyler Davidson

“Little Miss Sunshine” is arguably the underdog amongst the nominees for the Best Picture Oscar. Its wonderfully unique story tells of the dysfunctional Hoover family’s trip from New Mexico to southern California in order to enter young Olive (Abigail Breslin) into a beauty pageant held annually.

The family includes an overbearing motivational speaker (Greg Kinnear), his frustrated wife (Toni Collette), her gay, depressed scholar of a brother (Steve Carell) as well as her resentful son (Paul Dano), who has taken a vow of silence due to his interest in the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche. Rounding out the ensemble cast is the family’s heroin-addicted, foul-mouthed grandfather, played hilariously by Alan Arkin.

Despite the various nuances and idiosyncrasies displayed by each family member throughout the course of the movie, each is done so tastefully and realistically, never delving too far into the over the top “madhouse” feel that one could get from such a cast.

Being a character-driven film, each character deals with his or her own arc on their own terms, and one is never overshadowed by another. By the time the closing credits roll, each family member has endeared themselves tremendously to the audience.

This is especially impressive due to how unlikable Greg Kinnear’s portrayal of Richard Hoover is during the first half of the picture (even going so far as to tell his 7-year-old daughter that she will get fat if she eats ice cream, in so many words.)

The husband and wife directing team of Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris have made an ambitious and highly entertaining picture that deserves its nomination.

Should “Little Miss Sunshine” win Best Picture, it will have been the first comedy to achieve such an honor since “My Fair Lady” won the award in 1964. Trumping over the films will surely be an upset, but if it happens, it most definitely will be deservedly so.

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