Unexpectedly this year, I give you biopic number 3 on the awards charts (Theory of Everything, Imitation Game previously). And it is just as worthy, if different, than the others. This particular story, while based on true events, is aimed less at the person and more at the act of self-discovery. It is, as was the book, intended to teach and inspire, to provide hope no matter how a desolate landscape you need to traverse.

Witherspoon (Water for Elephants) continues to prove her ability with this role. She attacks it head-on, without pause; it is a raw performance. As her mother, Dern (The Fault in our Stars) balances and provides perspective for the tale to be told. And, of course, the Pacific Crest Trail is its own character in this story.

Vallee has directed a very different follow-up to his Dallas Buyers Club, though just as intimate a portrayal of the main character and a subject just as strong. Hornby’s (An Eductation) script certainly supports his style and approach.

Wild will affect you differently depending on where you are in your life and what is happening. It is a film I can see many people coming back to as touch-point or for guidance. It is both meditative and provocative. It is its transcendent nature beyond the story that has me rating it a bit higher than I would have expected. But it is more than the sum of its parts and a film you’ll be hearing a lot about over the next couple months.

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