Sunday, November 01, 2009

best films: WHALE RIDER (2003)

Previously ranked and blogged at #75
Thanks to an Oscar-nominated performance from 12-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes (arguably one of the best child performances in film ever, alongside Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense and Henry Thomas in E.T.- The Extra-Terrestrial), Whale Rider boasts an incredibly well-paced script and vintage story arcs that tell the tale of Pai, a Maori girl who, against the male-dominated hierarchy of her tribe, finds herself attuned with the spirit of an ancient whale-riding chief. The story is rich with culture, and, under Niki Caro's able direction, the film takes on a beautiful backdrop on the New Zealand coast. And thanks to Lisa Gerrard's (Gladiator) enchanting score and some gorgeous cinematography from Leon Narbey, the film went from an independent gem to a major respect-earner.

Standout Performance: The movie is a star vehicle for the young Castle-Hughes, and she capitalizes from one scene to the next. And that reading at the concert scene is one of the best of the decade.

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