Here’s my preference in order for Best Picture among this year’s nominations. Keep in mind, this is for Best Picture. (Liking a movie doesn’t make it a candidate for that honor, as you’ll see at the end.)
1. Imitation Game: This is the story of Alan Turing as he led the group that was able to crack Germany’s enigma code, credited for ending WWII two years earlier than it would have otherwise. He’s a mathematical savant, and I’m always intrigued by people like him. I’ve been amazed at how many people who are moviegoers that, when I said this was my favorite, responded, “Oh, I haven’t seen that one yet.” Dear people – go see it. Benedict Cumberbatchis amazing, as is Keira Knightley. They are also my choice for Best Actor* and Best Actress in a Supporting Role*, respectively. (IMDB 8.2)
3. Whiplash: This movie ranks above the next one only because of its “stick-with-you-ness nature.” When the movie was over, we sat in the theater digesting what we’d just experienced. This is perhaps the most intense movie I’ve seen – difficult to watch at times. This, too, would make a great discussion, and I hope I have the opportunity to do so with some of my musician teacher friends. I thought Miles Teller did a great job portraying the drummer savant and has every right to be offended by not getting a Best Actor nod. J.K. Simmons is brilliant as the music teachers whose expectations break every boundary – my choice for Best Actor in a Supporting Role*. (IMDB 8.6)
4. The Theory of Everything: This is the true story of the romance between Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. I thought the cinematography of this film was beautiful, and since it is very clean with no nudity and no language, I’ve highly recommended it to my parents. (No so for the language of #2 & #3 above.) It is a sweet story, and while I thought Eddie Redmayne‘s performance was pretty flat (though kudos to what he had to endure to film this!), I thought Felicity Jones was extraordinary, and she is my pick for Best Actress*. (IMDB 7.8) Update (2.22.15): After seeing Still Alice today, I think Julianne Moore should probably win.
5. Selma: Numbers five and six on this list are also very close, though I’ve perhaps been influence by Scott’s feelings so much on the next one, that Selma was given a slight advantage. We both enjoyed this film a lot more than we thought we would. I didn’t know much about the history of this event, so I loved that aspect of it. It’s nomination for Best Original Song with Glory should be an easy win – it is fantastic. I tend to agree with the critics who have said that this movie should have received more nominations, but when pressed to think which ones, I can’t say. There were no standout individual performances – but together, they created a great movie very much worth seeing. (IMDB 7.7)
6. The Grand Budapest Hotel: If there is any movie that might steal the win, this is it. I liked it. Scott hated it. It is quirky, no doubt. It has about a dozen cameos, which may have been the only redeeming factor in Scott’s opinion. It is about the relationship between the concierge and a lobby boy of a luxurious hotel that caters to the rich and famous during the period between WWI and WWII. I liked the parallel structure of the dual relationships between present and past as well as the recurring elements – particularly theme and dialogue. Did I mention it is quirky? (IMDB 8.1)
7. American Sniper: Before you start sending me hate mail, let me say that I really did like this movie. I did – promise. But, it has no business being nominated for Best Picture. I loved the patriotism it portrays, loved Chris Kyle’s story, loved experiencing the reverent silence in the theater at the end while everyone stayed for all the credits and then exited without a word – really. I liked it. But. Eastwood. Used. A. Fake. Baby. For. Goodness. Sake. I actually missed that when I saw it in the theater because I was so disturbed seconds earlier by the goof of his wife’s jacket being unzipped when in the shot before she had zipped it up. No one uses so obviously uses a fake baby when they are expecting to get a Best Picture nod. They all should be grateful. Oh, and there is no novel idea or thought. The story line is exactly what you’d expect from a story about a soldier who chooses to do extra tours of duty while he leaves behind a wife and young children. Que the conflict between duty to country and family. (IMDB 7.5)
8. Boyhood: The only movie on the list that I absolutely hated. This is nearly three hours that I’ll never get back. If you’re not familiar with the movie (is anyone not familiar with the movie?), Boyhood has been called groundbreaking because the director filmed it over 12 years using the same cast. So you actually see Ellar Coltrane – supposedly the star of the movie – growing up from age 7 to 19. The movie is Richard Linklater showing a slice of life in each year of Mason’s life – navigating boyhood and adolescence among his divorced parents relationship, two stepfathers and a host of horrible haircuts. Lorelei Linklater – the director’s daughter – has almost equal share of the stage. Scott read somewhere that Lorelei actually became bored with the concept around the third year and asked her dad to kill her off. It would have been better for me if he’d obliged and done away with the whole lot. I understand that its nomination is from the novel idea of how it was filmed – so give him a nod for Best Director, maybe – but this movie is at best a one-trick pony and at worst a over-hyped film of terrible acting, flat dialogue and little plot. (IMDB 8.2)