If we can agree that Easy A (2010) set a new gold standard for the contemporary teen-flick, high-school dramedy (and I won’t hear a word spoken against it), then you should not disregard this smart, funny, hip and, in the end, gorgeously coy and touching movie. A bizarrely dressed outsider at her junior high, Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is consumed by manic self-absorption. As a confused teenager, her problems are the only things that matter in her crazy unknowing world. She fights constantly with her widowed mother (Kyra Sedgwick), cannot abide the self-confidence of her handsome older brother, Darian (Blake Jenner), and is unable to find any way of being noticed by the cool guy in a senior year. When Krista, her bestie (Hayley Lu Richardson), hooks up with Darian, Nadine falls into a black hole of fury and alienation. Her only confidante is the history teacher, Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson). Writer Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut as director is incredibly assured – perhaps because, as a woman, she has a better understanding of Nadine, as well as her mother and Krista, who are never secondary players. As a result, her movie is instantly likeable for its recognisable characters and the everyday scenarios in which they find themselves. Bucking the established norm for the youngsters in American films to be portrayed as experienced and capable beyond their years (it is so irritating), Nadine simply cannot cope with the maelstrom of emotional (if overblown) crises in which she finds herself. It is a performance of captivating ingenuousness from Steinfeld, wavering wildly from the frustrating to the heart breaking. She gets there in the end (and what a beautiful ending it is) but along the way the viewer is reminded at every turn that nothing can ever be taken for granted, that all that glitters is not gold, that love can be elusive, even when it is staring you in the face, and that growing up involves stumbling over an edge from which there is no return. One of the year’s best.