The Fault In Our Stars
I will not lie to you. Sometimes, I walk into a movie theater with drooping shoulders, generally uninterested in what a movie might offer due to advance trailer previews or press that failed to generate my excitement. I walked into this one feeling that way, fearing I was in for a sap-fest. Boy, was I wrong. Shailene Woodley is downright incredible as Hazel, a 16 year-old struggling with thyroid cancer. After being sent to a support group by her mother (Laura Dern—I just love her) she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort—so charming it's almost disgusting) a basketball player who lost his leg to cancer, but sure as hell hasn't lost his lust for life. The two hit it off, and the result is the best teen romance since The Spectacular Now, which also starred Woodley. The film handles its subject matter with enough grace for a thousand movies. When Gus, Hazel and her mom travel to Amsterdam to meet Hazel's favorite author (Willem DaFoe—on freaking fire), their meeting will stand as one of the best scenes of 2014. Much praise goes to director Josh Boone for making a supremely entertaining film, and to author John Green, who wrote the 2012 novel the film is based on. You could call it a tearjerker, but that seems a little insulting to me. There's nothing manipulative about Boone's direction, or the performances by Woodley, Elgort, Dern, Nat Wolff and everybody else in the cast. They all won me over in a big way.