I'm a big movie fan. I love the big, outrageous summer blockbusters (The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park, to name a few), and I also love small, quirky, hard-to-find gems (Primer, Moon, Box Elder to name a few more).
Despite my fandom, I have never tackled the task of trying to see all of the films nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Picture category. Many people do this every year, and when this year's list came out (even though I don't think it is a particularly stellar year for high-end films), I thought I would give it a shot.
I had already seen Birdman. American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and Selma are on my list of movies I want to see. The Grand Budapest Hotel is already on HBO. Boyhood is available to rent through iTunes. That left only The Theory of Everything and Whiplash as having to go "out of my way" to see them.
Then I scrolled my eyes over the remaining major categories (Acting, Directing, and Screenwriting), and noticed that I had already seen some of the movies that are nominated in these categories that are not nominated for Best Picture (Gone Girl and Foxcatcher), I plan on seeing another (Inherent Vice) and I wouldn't mind seeing a couple more that are available to rent on iTunes (Nightcrawler and The Judge) Basically, if I stretch myself, there is the potential that I see every movie nominated for every major category this year before the winners are announced on February 22. I usually wind up seeing most movies that get nominated in these categories anyway in the years after the winners are announced. Why not try it beforehand?
I also figured I'd take a shot at blogging about it as I go - giving updates along the way of which movies I liked and didn't, where I would rank them, and so on.
So, to get you briefly up to speed on the Best Picture category. As I wrote, I saw Birdman already. I loved the acting, the way the movie was filmed, the story, everything about it. Until the final 20 minutes, that is. I thought it went of the rails a bit (for a movie that started off the rails already), and the characters started acting differently than I had seen them in the first parts of the movie.
I watched The Grand Budapest Hotel the other night on HBO Go, and really enjoyed it. Wes Anderson is often quirky for the sake of being quirky in my opinion (The Grand Budapest Hotel is layered into four levels of flashbacks - the top two of which (Present Day and 1984, I think) don't contribute to the story at all), but the film has a great performance from Ralph Finnes and a very entertaining story. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Last night I watched Boyhood on a rental from iTunes. This movie is a production marvel in that it was filmed intermittently over the course of 12 years. So you see the actors age before your eyes. No movie magic or makeup in play here. Other than that astounding feat, the movie lacked any kind of grasp for me. I didn't identify with the boy, Mason, who is the film's central character. And I found the approach to the story a little too mundane. I jokingly texted a friend and my cousin the following for a summary of Boyhood.
"Boyhood - an experimentally produced film shot over 12-plus years in which a basically shitty mother with terrible choices in men moves her family around Texas while her unspectacular, uncool, loser of a son falls ass-backwards into pussy he would never remotely have a chance at."
That's how I saw it. Ethan Hawke as Mason, Sr., Mason's biological father, and Lorelei Linklater as Mason's older sister Samantha were my favorite parts of the film.
To develop a little format for this planned ongoing series of blog posts, I'll rank the movies/performances/direction/screenwriting of what I have seen so far below, and then update it when I see the other movies. At the end of it all, I'll provide a reason for each choice. Call these the "clubhouse leaders."
1) The Grand Budapest Hotel
To Be Seen: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
Best Actor (Leading)
1) Michael Keaton - Birdman
2) Steve Carrell - Foxcatcher
To Be Seen: Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game, Bradley Cooper - American Sniper, Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Best Actress (Leading)
1) Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
To Be Seen: Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore - Still Alice, Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Best Supporting Actor
1) Edward Norton - Birdman
2) Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
3) Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
To Be Seen: Robert Duvall - The Judge, J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress
1) Emma Stone - Birdman
2) Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
To Be Seen: Laura Dern - Wild, Keira Knightly - The Imitation Game, Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
1) Richard Linklater - Boyhood
2) Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman
3) Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
4) Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
To Be Seen: Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game
Best Original Screenplay
1) Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo - Birdman
2) Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness - The Grand Budapest Hotel
3) E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman - Foxcatcher
4) Richard Linklater - Boyhood
To Be Seen: Dan Gilroy - Nightcrawler
Best Adapted Screenplay
To Been Seen: Jason Hall - American Sniper, Paul Thomas Anderson - Inherent Vice, Graham Moore - The Imitation Game, Anthony McCarten - The Theory of Everything, Damien Chazelle - Whiplash