It’s often hyperbole to say a filmmaker hasn’t made a bad movie or an actor hasn’t starred in a bad movie. All of the greats have a film to their name that doesn’t work, for one reason or another. As Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give” turns 10 this month (it received a limited release on April 30, 2010), it’s safe to say she’s an exception to the rule. Holofcener has never made a bad movie.
Holofcener is one of the most respected writer-directors working today and, yet, there’s still a sense she is underappreciated. She recently received her first Oscar nomination for writing “Can You Ever Forgive Me?.” There’s an argument to be made Holofcener should have been nominated for one (or more) of her screenplays before. All of her directorial efforts have been well-received. Below is a Tomatometer breakdown of Holofcener’s films:
- “Walking and Talking” (1996) – 88%
- “Lovely & Amazing” (2002) – 86%
- “Friends with Money” (2006) -72%
- “Please Give” (2010) – 87%
- “Enough Said” (2013) – 95%
- “The Land of Steady Habits” (2018) – 85%
The attraction to Holofcener’s work lies within her screenplays. She crafts stories about everyday people and allows her audience to find different levels of relatability within her work. The way she writes people feels deeply human and realistic. Characters in a Holofcener movie rarely feel as if they are a caricature.
Some of our finest actors — including her frequent collaborator Catherine Keener — want to work with Holofcener. Her ensembles allow each actor moments to shine and give their characters agency without ever feeling like the movie belongs to just one. In “Lovely & Amazing,” one of Holofcener’s finest films, Keener, Emily Mortimer, Raven Goodwin and Brenda Blethyn create a family unit with history and turbulence that is palpable. “Friends with Money” assembled some of our finest actresses working, including Keener, Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack. In “Enough Said,” Julia Louis-Dreyfus gives her best film performance alongside James Gandolfini, who sadly passed before it was released.
Holofcener is always a director to be excited about when a new movie comes out. Though she hasn’t directed many since her 1996 debut, she is continually working directing television (most recently HBO’s “Mrs. Fletcher”). When one of her movies does come out, it’s a safe assumption that it will be something special.