With ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the Co-Directors of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ Finally Let the Sunshine of Reality In

With ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ the Co-Directors of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ Finally Let the Sunshine of Reality In
Hollywood filmmakers can always find a dozen different rationales — integrity, naked sellout, treading water — for choosing their next project. So how, exactly, does one account for the careers of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris? In 2006, the married co-directors of television commercials and fatally hip music videos (R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Macy Gray, The Smashing Pumpkins) made their first feature film, “Little Miss Sunshine,” at which point they took possession of the buzz, the money, and the known movie universe.

The picture was adored by audiences — first at the Sundance Film Festival, and then, in the late summer, when it was released in theaters by Fox Searchlight. Critics, by and large, gave it their imprimatur of affection and acclaim. (I hated the movie, but we’ll get to that in a moment.) The awards love then followed suit: four Oscar nominations (for best picture, best original screenplay, best supporting actor, best
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