The #1: Eighth Grade (2018)/Written & Directed by Bo Burnham
I thought I'd start off this series with, as indicated, my absolute favorite movie ever. This coming-of-age comedy/drama follows thirteen-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as her issues with anxiety and self-consciousness come to a head whilst navigating the final week of middle school. From the moment I saw the trailer alone, I knew I was going to love this picture, and I wasn't disappointed. Elsie Fisher's performance- her delivery, every nervous glance, stutter, etc.- was so realistic that Kayla instantly became the most personally relatable character I'd ever seen. Back when I was in eighth grade, I started experiencing a lot of extreme depression and self-consciousness, and seeing this in the theater was the most cathartic cinematic experience I'd ever had. I cared so much about Kayla as a character, and wanted her so much to be okay. During the climax of the movie, I cried the hardest I'd ever cried at a film.
Bo Burnham also brilliantly captured the culture of middle school and early adolescence, based on my past experience. Andrew Wehde's subjective cinematography visually plunks you right in Kayla's mindset at all times, which aids to how empathetic of a story this is. Jennifer Lilly's editing keeps the pace humming along, and constantly changes the tone, which fits the ultimate lesson Kayla learns.
But what really provides the aesthetic cherry on top is composer Anna Meredith's masterful score, which has since become my all-time favorite score. Kayla's emotions, positive and negative, feel very big and larger-than-life to her. Fittingly, the music tailors itself to the bigness of said emotions, and pulls you in quickly as a result, in addition to Fisher's acting.
I don't know if I'm comfortable fully delving into how this movie helped me when it first came out. Just know that I encountered it at a time when I was still dealing with a lot mentally, chiefly in regards to my depression, and it proved to be quite a therapeutic moment for me. If I had the opportunity, I would just want to say thanks to Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher for making this.