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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best Picture 2014

In a few hours Sylvia and I will head to the Fitzpatricks' for their annual Oscar Party, and once again I expect to come in second or third in the Oscar pool. (Mumble...)

As in previous years, here I offer my rundown of the Best Picture nominees, from worst to first:

8) The Imitation Game: None of this year's nominees are bad films, nor will any of them achieve lasting greatness. The Imitation Game is a perfectly serviceable biopic if you can stomach the historical liberties taken. This is the first of two autobiographical films to focus on the lead character's obstacles rather than his scientific triumphs, to the detriment of the story.
7) Selma: This historical drama plays more like a well-executed TV movie of the week than a Best Picture nominee. On the other hand, that's unkind to television, which in the 21st century is more innovative and daring than mainstream film has been since the 1970s.
6) The Theory of Everything: This is the second biopic to focus on the lead's challenges rather than his contributions to history, again, to the detriment of the film.
5) American Sniper: This turned out to be less offensive than I had feared, but that's faint praise for middling Eastwood.
4) Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Its reach may exceed its grasp, but at least Birdman tries to be different with its ambiguous narrative, unreliable narrator and nested layers of meaning.
3) Boyhood: Richard Linklater's ambition deserves praise - he's the first filmmaker daring enough to stretch a production over a decade to let us watch his stable of actors age and change. Unfortunately this very conceit makes it difficult to construct a coherent throughline for the story; it just...ends.
2) The Grand Budapest Hotel: Sometimes I find Wes Anderson's work a little too cute, but here he fires on all cylinders, delivering a whimsical, funny adventure story that is at times poignant, and his production design remains sumptuous.
1) Whiplash: While I may disagree with this film's central philosophy - that greatness always requires self-sacrifice and hardship (not to mention terrible bullying), it's still a captivating story with warm, vivid cinematography and wonderful music.

There you have it. Oddsmakers say Birdman or Boyhood will walk away with the statue.

1 comment:

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

We are changing the award pool format a little bit this year, so anyone attending has a shot at the prize, but having more accurate predictions give you a better shot. Intriguing, no?