Drake's Right—'The Florida Project' Might Be the Best Movie of 2017

Drizzy's not just spitting hyperbole about Sean Baker's latest film; it's really that damn good.

'The Florida Project'
Image via A24 Films
'The Florida Project'

Drake is in a position where he doesn't need to put anyone else on; he's doing great by his lonesome. If you've followed Drake's career, though, you'll see that from The Weeknd to A$AP Rocky to Chief Keef, Drake loves giving the co-sign to people and things he believes in. Back on September 12, Drake took to Instagram to spread love for a new passion of his.

"The Florida Project is the best movie you will see this year," Drake said, followed by a couple of emojis. Haters will say that Drake was just trying to woo marijuana-themed clothing maven-turnt-actress Bria Vinaite, one of the stars of The Florida Project that Drake is rumored to be "smitten" with, but truth be told, The Florida Project really is that damn great, even if you haven't heard about it yet. 

The Florida Project is the latest release from super-stellar production company A24 (which has brought you everything from Moonlight to Spring Breakers), and starts its limited theater release on October 6. It's the latest film from Sean Baker, who's last film was 2015's critically-acclaimed trans-comedy Tangerine, which was shot entirely on an iPhone 5. And while Hollywood veteran Willem Dafoe might be the biggest name attached to the film, it's the immaculate performances from 24-year-old Vinaite and six-year-old Brooklynn Kimberly Prince—both of whom had little to no acting experience prior to working on this film—that steal the show.

The film, which is set in Kissimmee, Florida, tells the tale of six-year-old Moonee (Prince) and her mother, Halley, and their trials and tribulations living in a weird skid row-meets-welfare hell of extended-stay motels in the shadow of Walt Disney World. It's intriguing to see how an area that's seemingly rolling in Disney bucks has a seedy underbelly, living ratchetly off the fat of the land. It's in this toxic environment that Moonee and her squad of bad ass kids enjoy life; begging for change, tearing up abandoned buildings, and being general nuisances to the motel's owner (Dafoe) and numerous tenants and tourists. Told through Moonee's eyes, The Florida Project gives viewers a frighteningly real bird's eye view into, essentially, how the Floridians we always hear about in the news grow up. It's a tragic and timeless adventure through a particularly troubling period in this young girl's life, with love, loss, and pain being covered in varying shades of pastel motel paint.

We begin the film with Moonee and her partner in crime Scooty wrecking havoc at a neighboring motel, befriending another kid in this mini-universe of down-on-their-luck Floridians. It's from Moonee's point-of-view that we get to see how truly fucked this community is living. Who knew that the motels that once housed regular Disney tourists essentially turned into housing projects for many of the poor and disenfranchised? Throughout the film, Moonee takes us on a journey that highlights the kind of insanity that living in these situations would permit, from fights and hustling for cash to how fast some of these kids have to grow up in order to survive. It's rarely pretty, but Baker and co. do find a way to mix in some laugh-out-loud moments with some seriously disturbing situations for our young protagonist, her mother (who might be too immature to be dealing with a whole child and real-life problems), and those in their inner circle.

While it might be easy for someone to say "well, duh, of course kids in Florida are leading these kinds of ratchet lives," this section of the Sunshine State is rarely seen on film. "Some stories need to be told," Vinaite wrote on Instagram in September 2016. "This is one of them."

Speaking further about the life that The Florida Project depicts, Vinaite told Mashable that "It's a situation that no one knows exists. I never knew about the hidden homeless situation until this film, and until Sean. There are so many things we don't know about because they don't get spoken about, and people might be embarrassed to speak up or might be shamed into not speaking up."

Acclaim for The Florida Project crept in quick, fast and in a hurry; after premiering at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival this past May, A24 scooped it up. It's hard to say how much they acquired Baker's film for, but Variety reported some companies dropped out after the bidding went past $1 million. It's sitting at a crispy 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with sites like Quartz already calling for Prince to nominated for an Oscar. Trust, it's that damn good. In regards to her performance, Prince simply explains that she "just imagined myself being in that situation—those kids going through that. And that just touched my heart."

View this video on YouTube


It's amazing to see Prince's range in  The Florida Project. She has to balance meme-fueled hoodrat stuff with her friends and moments of blunt clarity that highlight just how (street-)smart she is. It's a tough bag to carry, and considering Prince's age and relative lack of acting experience, she murders this role, and is my early pick for a Best Supporting Actress nomination (and win?) next year.

What about The Florida Project as a film, though? Do we believe it's Best Film-bound? Was Drake selling wolf tickets just to impress a woman? Both are possible; Drizzy's thirst is well-documented. However, when you add Baker's track record with Vinaite, Prince, and Dafoe's performances, in a story about a life many of us have never seen nor knew existed? Believe me when I tell you that Drake's not bullshitting to win over his crush. The Florida Project is that damn good, that damn gripping, and that damn Oscar worthy.

Latest in Pop Culture