19. Ruby Sparks
Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Stars: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Chris Messina, Antonio Banderas, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould
Take our advice: Rent a copy of Ruby Sparks, schedule a home video night with your preferred lady friend, and be prepared to receive cool points a-plenty from your fairer-sexed partner. Perhaps even some post-movie loving as a reward for displaying such quality taste in cinema. But we digress.
What's truly special about the second feature film from sharp husband-and-wife directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) is the wonderful script from star Zoe Kazan. Blending magical-realism with touching romance, Kazan's screenplay brilliantly develops a romance from the seemingly impossible.
The actress' real-life boyfriend, the perennially underrated Paul Dano, gives a strong leading man performance as a struggling novelist who inexplicably wills a fictional dream girl (Kazan) into existence and falls in love with her. Ruby Sparks works on several levels concurrently: It's a genuinely sweet comedy, a heart-tugging love story, and a Twilight Zone-esque look at human connection in a heightened reality. Most critics would call Silver Linings Playbook the year's best romantic comedy—around these parts, the title goes to Ruby Sparks.