James Ponsoldt Movies Ranked

4. Off the Black (2006)

Trevor Morgan, Nick Nolte 'Off the Black' 2006 movie

Coming out of the blocks with the type of character drama he would become admired for, James Ponsoldt’s passion project about a teenager befriending an ageing man courtesy of an act of vandalism and a mutual love of baseball featured all of the traits the screenwriter-director’s films would become most notable for, from its slow-paced presentation of suburban American life to its complex characterisations and exceptional performances.

Tackling the famously tough to work with Nick Nolte in his first feature can’t have been an easy feat, but Ponsoldt managed to get an honest, layered and typically high quality performance out of the veteran actor that gifted the film an extra level of investment and really brought the screenplay to life.

It may only be one place above The Circle on this list, but it is head and shoulders above it in terms of quality and a must-see for fans of the other entries on this list.

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3. Smashed (2012)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul 'Smashed' (2012) Movie

Smashed Review

A refreshing and appropriately alternative look at the less glamorous side of alcohol, this Aaron Paul and Mary Elizabeth Winstead drama about a young married couple whose relationship is founded upon dangerous levels of alcohol consumption was a showcase of its starring actors’ talents, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead being particularly impressive as the wife who looks to sober up only to cause tensions in her relationship.

This was the 2nd film in Ponsoldt’s feature-length directorial career, arriving a full six years after the director’s first release Off the Black, and was the filmmaker’s true calling card to more character-focused pieces that worked to accentuate the talents of the actors central to them.

One particular AA meeting monologue from Winstead’s character in Smashed stands out for its moving writing and, perhaps more significantly, as a moment in Winstead’s career in which she proved her chops for providing truly moving material.

Ponsoldt was getting into a groove that would continue with his next release…

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