The Florida Project is a fairly remarkable movie for one reason, and her name is Brooklynn Prince. I always say, when a film features a top-notch performance by a child actor, the director deserves at least some of the credit, and there are a lot of children in The Florida Project, so give it up for Sean Baker (Tangerine). The adults who co-star with child actors are also crucial, so give it up for Willem Dafoe, who was nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar. Dafoe was particularly important here because almost all of the rest of the actors, adult and child alike, were first-timers. Dafoe interacts believably with the others ... he's skillful, but he doesn't stand out, doesn't make the others in the cast seem like amateurs.
Baker and co-writer Chris Bergoch also deserve mention because they were willing to allow improvisation from the actors. Improv can be tricky, and it fails as often as it works. I imagine it's especially hard when your actors are new to the profession. And you can multiply that exponentially when some of your improv actors are little tykes like Brooklynn Prince.
Like Tangerine, The Florida Project is more slice-of-life than plot driven. Things happen, but a lot of the movie is given over to Prince and her friends wandering around having adventures. I was reminded of Zazie dans le Métro with Catherine Demongeot, who largely disappeared from movies after her debut as the title character in that film:
Brooklynn Prince as Moonee was a few years younger than was Demongeot as Zazie, although Prince is already building quite an acting resume. I was taken by the following blooper reel, because while like all such examples, Prince is screwing up, it's as if she is never out of character. Between her screen presence, her clear improv skills, and her overall precosity, Prince is basically the same in these bloopers as she is in the material that made the final cut:
The Florida Project is more serious than I'm suggesting. Dafoe's character has depth, and newcomer Bria Vinaite as Moonee's mom gives us a character who is equal parts heartbreaking and annoying. It is entirely believable that Moonee is her daughter.
#252 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don't They list of the top 1000 films of the 21st century.