A Ray of Sunshine in the Oscar Nominations

Of the five nominees for Best Picture, I'm backing "Little Miss Sunshine."

Granted, it's the only one of the five I've actually seen thus far (I'm still hoping to catch Letters and The Departed), but the movie was refreshingly enjoyable to watch.

The film's strengths shone on mulitiple fronts; the characters were memorable and inspired empathy (supporting actor and actress are up for awards), the cinematography was crisp, and the soundtrack (featuring LIB favorite DeVotchKa and a dash of Sufjan Stevens) was moving yet ethereal enough to avoid seeming maudlin.

Somehow, the story managed to approach the epic form in the mundane, featuring an oddball odyssey from New Mexico to Redondo Beach in a bright yellow VW van. A sprinkling of high philosophy added some spice, too - Nietzsche and Proust pop up unexpectedly, adding to the whimsy.

Overall, Little Miss Sunshine captures an insightful snapshot about modern life, subtly reaffirming the value of a balance between traditional familial bonds and the willingness to venture out as an individual, all in the face of increasing complexity and prospects of loneliness.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch it. And be sure to eat some ice cream when you do.