Over the next few months, people will be throwing around the words "Oscar candidate" like germs from a cold. With the usual December-released films jockeying for awards consideration, not many people look to the month of October. They might want to after David Fincher's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel Gone Girl. With perfect casting choices, exceptional direction and an impeccable script by Flynn, Gone Girl is worthy of a best picture accolade for 2014.
In a small Missouri town, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) awakes on the morning of his five-year anniversary to find his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), missing from their home. After contacting the police, Nick's attitude has them and the rest of the country suspecting Nick killed his wife.
Affleck gives the best performance of his career, making us hate yet sympathize with his flawed character. Tyler Perry, known for dressing in drag for his Madea movies, is the biggest surprise as lawyer Tanner Bolt. His strong, darkly comic performance allows the audience to laugh after holding its breath in suspense for a good hour. Other supporting players do fantastic work. Carrie Coon as Nick's twin sister Margo leads this pack of actors with a star-making performance that is both funny and heartbreaking as we watch her character's life fall apart just as much as her brother's.
Neil Patrick Harris, unfortunately, provides the film's rare weak spot. His character, a troubled ex-boyfriend of Amy's, is supposed to come off as creepy, but Harris doesn't bring enough of that vibe to his character. Yes, he is obsessed, but he seems more annoying and out of place.
Pike, who plays "gone girl" Amy Elliot Dunne, is revolutionary in this role and the real star of this film, despite Affleck and Harris starring in the film's marketing campaign. Amy might be one of the strongest female characters ever written, and Pike does everything in her power to make sure you don't forget her presence onscreen.
Even with actors owning the spotlight, one must be shined on Fincher's flawless direction. Every shot is meticulously framed, resulting in beautiful big-screen images, and the succinct editing his films are known for (The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo both won Oscars for best film editing) pairs smoothly with the directing brilliance. Gone Girl is one of the best looking films of the year, no CGI required.
Flynn, who knows the material better than anyone, proves her knack for writing for the big screen as well with this witty and dark film. The dialogue is realistic and not overdone, even if rollercoasters have fewer twists than Gone Girl. Every moment you think you have the film figured out, it throws you off. Add the haunting score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and scenes meant to shock audiences are even more powerful.
Gone Girl clicks at just the right moments. It's without a doubt the first great film of the fall season.
Hunter Eitel is a senior at Riverview High.
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Director: David Fincher
Cast: Ben Affleck, Roasmund Pike, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
Running time: 149 minutes
* * *
***** Can you marry a thing that's not a person?
**** Silver medals are still cool.
*** Nobody's perfect.
** Its mom still loves it.
* No. Just, no.