Whiplash is a very good film, but I would by no means call it great. Of the films I have seen thus far that are nominated for Best Picture, it is the one that I think is best for repeat viewings. It's less than two hours, paced well, acted well, and enjoyable even though the film is about a very difficult music teacher often going too far in pushing his students. While the film doesn't have any major pitfalls, it doesn't hit the high marks that the films ranked above it on my list do. J.K. Simmons turns in a phenomenal performance - no one is going to debate that. Without him, this movie is not nominated for Best Picture. There are plot lines that are presented to perhaps provide the film with some further depth, and then they are quickly abandoned to focus on the conflict-heavy relationship between Simmons' character (Fletcher) and Miles Teller's drummer (Andrew). The moments between Simmons and Teller are the best the film has. I didn't need any of the side stories.

I've also completed my first category in this little endeavor - Best Supporting Actor. Robert Duvall's performance in The Judge was the last I needed to see in this category. Duvall's performance is nothing spectacular. I think the Best Supporting Actor category carried some amazing performances this year, and Duvall's doesn't measure up to the rest for me. There were some great supporting performances in the films I have seen this year - Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro in Inherent Vice, and Zach Galifianakis in Birdman are three that come to mind - that I thought could have been recognized with a nomination. But I also get why Duvall is nominated. He is a legendary actor who currently has 141 acting credits to his name according to IMDB. This is his seventh Oscar nomination, and he won Best Actor in 1984 for Tender Mercies. He turns in a good performance, and this might be the last time to honor the man.

This is one of a series of blog posts tracking my attempt to see every film that is nominated for the eight major categories at the Academy Awards. Below is my updated list of rankings, and what I still need to see. A reasoning for my picks will be included with my final selections. These are the clubhouse leaders.

Best Picture

1) American Sniper

2) The Grand Budapest Hotel

3) Birdman

4) Whiplash

5) Boyhood

To Be Seen: The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything

Best Actor (Leading)

1) Michael Keaton - Birdman

2) Bradley Cooper - American Sniper

3) Steve Carrell - Foxcatcher

To Be Seen: Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game, 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) J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

4) Ethan Hawke - Boyhood

5) Robert Duvall - The Judge

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

Best Director

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

1) Paul Thomas Anderson - Inherent Vice

2) Jason Hall - American Sniper

3) Damien Chazelle - Whiplash

To Been Seen: Graham Moore - The Imitation Game, Anthony McCarten - The Theory of Everything

AuthorJohn Juettner