Based on the memoir by David Sheff is Beautiful Boy. Directed Felix Van Groeningen it’s the story a family dealing with the struggles of drug addiction. Van Goreningen is no stranger to dealing with heavy drama involving substance abuse as seen in his breakout indie Broken Circle Breakdown. His brand of drama works here thanks to the well-anchored performances by Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet.

At its heart Beautiful Boy is successful because it talks about largely relatable issues in a subdued sort of way. Drug addiction is tricky to get right in Hollywood movies, and they more than often delve into movie-of-the-week territory, or as a plot device. The best films about addiction have always been the raw ones that feel real to regular people. Leaving Las Vegas and Smashed are among some of the great movies that deal with drug use. The key is to never descend into peachiness to the audience about the subject.

Van Groeningen here has a good grasp on the material, and wisely sidesteps the after-school special moments in how it shows Nic Sheff’s (Chalamet) dark path into drug use, and how his father David (Carell) does all he can to save his son’s life. The film’s narrative, however, might be one of the weaker elements. Choosing to jump back and forth in its story from Nic’s childhood to him as an adult. The jumpy narrative doesn’t seem to help the journey it’s taking the audience on. It just comes off as choppy storytelling.

Timothée Chalamet brings the same charm here as brought to the role of Elio in Call Me By Your Name. His performance feels like a fully rounded, and complicated person. Chalamet proves again he’s the real deal. With a quiet devastation about him, Chalamet has a good shot at getting a second Oscar nomination for his performance here. It could even win and follow in the footsteps of Timothy Hutton’s rookie supporting actor win for Ordinary People in 1981. At only 22-year-old Chalamet’s talent carries himself wise beyond his years. Look for his performance to gain momentum as award season begins. He already has the reviews to back it up.

Steve Carell is given the harder role here. A majority of the story is told from his point of view. His character feels powerless to his son’s addiction, but can’t give up on him. It’s one of the best performances of his career. From broad comedy to drama Carell is no stranger to going to dark places in his acting thanks to his Oscar-nominated turn in Foxcatcher. He could be a wild card for best actor here. Also, look for great work by Maura Tierney who plays Nic’s stepmother who’s just as involved in his journey to his recovery as David is. Tierney has one scene in particular where she has an emotional breakdown behind the wheel of a car that cuts deep.

Beautiful Boy above all feels honest and truthful about its subject matter. It may not be one of the best films to come out of 2018, but its one that’s a must watch going into award season. Even with the moments that feel a little disconnected due to the structure the showcase performances of Chalamet and Carell more than make up for it.