I have now seen all of the Best Picture nominees and while I gave my predictions a few days ago I thought I would do a quick post ranking the nominees. I would also add I think Song of the Sea, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Locke, Big Hero 6, Tale of Princess Kaguya, Lego Movie and Interstellar are better than all of the films but Boyhood nominated but they are all good movies.
We can all be glad the Grand Budapest Hotel is there because without it we’d have a lot of solemn nominees. I mean has the academy forgotten how to laugh? Gone are the days when movies like It’s a Mad Mad Mad World could get nominated for Best Picture. Kind of sad really.
Anyway, here’s how I would personally rank the nominees.
1. Boyhood- It’s a movie that really moved me and made me think about my life in a new way. It’s not a movie to entertain you but to remind you about the small moments with people that make up your life. I loved it. To me it is significantly better than any of the other nominees.
2. Selma– A movie that helped me get to know all sides of a great American. It wasn’t all the grand moments but soft, even shameful moments where you saw that anybody can make a difference. It was a part of the Civil Rights movement I wasn’t as familiar with and I was really moved by it. Amazing performance by David Oyelowo.
3. Whiplash- Mesmerizing film that builds tension so well with an insane performance by JK Simmons. It asks the question ‘what is the price to be paid for greatness?’ I wish it had shown more of the motivations behind the characters but still very gripping movie.
4. American Sniper- Gripping account of the most successful sniper in US Navy Seals history, Chris Kyle. The movie gets you down with the soldiers a lot for a sniper movie and it feels gritty and very intense. The narrative at home and on his tour of duties flow well together and are brought together in the story of a very complex man. It is a movie that tells his story and leaves the judging for God and others. I was really moved by. 5. Grand Budapest Hotel- The one comedy nominated! I think I give this a little bit of a pass because it is Wes Anderson’s best and most mainstream film. I’d have to watch it again to decide if I really like it better than the other nominees but I did like it. It’s not over-quirky like a lot of Anderson’s films. It is witty and the world creation is strong with more likable characters than many of his other films. Very good engaging cast as always.
6. Imitation Game- A solid biopic about Alan Turing, the man behind the computer which decoded the enigma machine. I liked the stuff about the decoding better than the more predictable personal portions but it was all strong and very well acted. The big mean boss who is constantly after Turing felt like such a cliche and the cop narration felt a little phony but I liked it.
7. Birdman- I know I’m not as high on this as everyone else but I’ve got to tell you what I really think not what is popular. I really hated the way this movie treated its female characters. I’m shocked that nobody else in criticism seems to be saying this? It will probably win tomorrow when Boyhood a movie featuring complex woman will not (although hopefully she will win). I have thought about it and I know it is an allegory for popularity and fame but why does the movie assume women are so much more fragile and judgmental than men? Is there not a Chris Farley, River Phoenix for every Lindsay Lohan and Judy Garland? The critic and the near rape especially bother me. But that said, it isn’t at the bottom because I do think they tried to do something different, the cinematography is very good and I thought Michael Keaton was great. I just don’t think it was anywhere near the best picture of the year. Oh well.
8. Theory of Everything– This is a good movie. I enjoyed watching it much more than Birdman. And Eddie Redmayne was unforgettable as Stephen Hawking. You forget it is an actor after a while. That’s pretty amazing especially since he doesn’t have a voice for a good chunk of the movie. However, it is pretty predictable biopic and large sections drag a bit. I didn’t think Felicity Jones was very good and the dewy sepia toned cinematography and constant twirling (even in the coffee) got on my nerves. Still a very good movie just bottom of the 8 for me.