More than just a "contender," actually, since, as of this morning, Juno is a Best Picture nominee. And deservedly so, because this quirky festival buzzmaker (filling this year's Little Miss Sunshine slot) is something special.
The film, directed by (Oscar nominee) Jason Reitman in a follow-up to his impressive first feature, Thank You For Smoking, gains much of its power from (Best Original Screenplay nominee) Diablo Cody's debut script. Cody's hilarious, biting dialogue is so stylized, it initially seems forced, but unlike many other drenched-in-irony indies, its core is endearingly earnest and sweet. Ellen Page (Best Actress nominee), a revelation as the title character, leads an excellent cast in the story of 16-year-old Juno's unexpected pregnancy, and the struggles and joys of growing up.
Fueled by a killer folksy soundtrack (look out, Wes Anderson), Juno - like the year's other standout comedy, Knocked Up - offers a positive message without laying on the cheese, instead establishing its own unique voice among the lexicon of thoughtful teenage dramadies.