If the sight of Ryan Gosling’s moon mission and the sound of Lady Gaga’s commanding vocals are any indications, we are officially in the bold beginnings of awards season. Curiously, this year’s new wave involves well-established talent making the jump behind the camera and into the director’s chair. From Paul Dano and Bo Burnham to Amy Poehler and Olivia Wilde, these classic career transitions are offering interesting voices a place in the film industry. Enter Jonah Hill, known for comedies such as Superbad and 21 Jump Street, who has recently been making the slow transition into more serious character roles in The Wolf of Wallstreet and Fukunaga’s Netflix joint, Maniac. His card to throw into this directorial debut poker table is Mid90s, produced by big-name-indie-house A24.
Set in Los Angeles, Mid90s is a slice-of-life film centered on a young boy named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who encounters and becomes part of a local skateboarding clique. This group becomes Stevie’s escape as he gets into violent fights with his older brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges) and starts to feel detached with his mother (Katherine Waterston) in his home life. Hill sought to authentically portray L.A. skate culture by hiring real skateboard talent as actors for his ensemble cast. Fixed to a boxy 4:3 aspect ratio, Hill commands every technical aspect within and around the frame to evoke nostalgic aesthetics and feel as grungy as the 90s itself.