Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Zack Helm's wonderfully inventive script brings this inspiring film to life. Tiptoeing delicately around conventions about storytelling, toying with the idea of the narrator, shaping one of the most delightful metafilm designs in the history of the subgenre. The director is Marc Forster, a man accustomed to presenting playful narration (Finding Neverland), and the German's work here equals the control and choreography of a puppeteer. He is able to combine emotive drama on several levels with quirky, playful comedy. Will Ferrell, from whom one might expect a downright comedic performance, shows that he is both versatile and expressive, whereas Maggie Gyllenhaal's benevolent Ana Pascal provides the required balance. There are nice supporting roles from veterans Hoffman and Thompson, as well as amusing cameos from Tom Hulce and Linda Hunt. It is a shame that Stranger Than Fiction was overlooked by the Academy, because it shows the extent and range that the film medium can boast, given the right vision and creativity.