What plucky indie film will be this year’s Beasts of the Southern Wild? You know, the little movie that snags great reviews and a few Oscar nominations.
An early front-runner for that slot is Short Term 12, a thoroughly good-hearted and engagingly played drama. Writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton based his movie on his experiences working in a short-term care facility for displaced young people, and it’s got an accurate ring to its tiny details.
The film’s not about the troubled teenagers, but about the people who work at the place. Our main focus is Grace (Brie Larson), a veteran of this world, who has the firm-but-sympathetic approach down pat. So does her live-in partner, a sweet-natured guy named Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), who also works at the facility.
As they deal with their charges, we see scenes that cut deep — especially as concern a young woman (Kaitlyn Dever, from Justified) who can’t stop hurting herself, or a tormented young man (Keith Stanfield) who has only a week left before he leaves the home.