Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hedging My Bets (Again)

It's that time of the year again when I talk about the movies that I though would be nominated that I got to see before they were nominated.  As well as what I got to see before the awards are announced.  I have seen seven out of eight so far, so I will list them in the order that I saw them and rank them appropriately.  There will be a separate post for my picks and my wife's for our annual competition that I will get out before this Sunday.  Still working on ranking Best Director, it will be coming soon.

Boyhood (2014) - The first one I saw, and wow what a movie!  Filmed over the course of twelve years, the movie follows the same actors as they go about their life.  The film moves seamlessly through each year showing a small clip of their lives at the moment chosen for that year.  Very well directed, a strong script and good editing.  Should be a lock for Patricia Arquette for Supporting Actress, Best Picture and probably Original Screenplay.

Since it was the first, it obviously is the best I've seen so far.  But this is one of the best movies I've seen in many years and appears to be the front runner.

The Theory of Everything (2014) - A bio pic about Stephen Hawking starting while he is working on his PhD and when he met his first wife.  Not so much a film about his theories but more of his life dealing with his illness and the toil it eventually took on his wife and their relationship.  Very well acted by Eddie Redmayne who should win Best Actor.  And as a plus they did play some Wagner.

Besides those two strong points, this wasn't a great movie.  Compared to Boyhood, and eventually the other films I have seen, it isn't going to win Best Picture.  And it doesn't deserve to either.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) - To be technical, I did tape this movie before the eight films were announced and was planning on watching it before the announcement.  But I ended up seeing it a few days later.  Standard Wes Anderson film, but this one is a bit better.  Very enjoyable, funny at times, surreal at others, makes it a fun movie to watch.  Acting is great and the story is what you would expect from his movies.  Nice to see him get a few more nominations than the usual Best Writing ones he has only gotten in the past.

Compared to the other two films this falls in the middle.  It is better than The Theory of Everything, but it is nowhere near Boyhood.  It will sit in second for now.

The Imitation Game (2014) - Another bio pic, this one based on the life of Alan Turing focusing on two specific times in his life.  Most of the film is about his work during WWII trying to figure out how to break the German Enigma code and during the 1950's when he was arrested for being a homosexual but though may have been a spy.  Good acting from the entire cast, a very well done movie.  There has been some controversy about Alan Turing being gay, but this isn't a major part of the film, it is mainly about him working on breaking the code, and saving people's lives.  This isn't even mentioned until an hour into the movie.  And it is more of a reminder that the English government back then treated homosexuals as criminals having them either go to jail or be forced to take unnecessary medications.  A very brilliant man's life was cut short from this government infringement.  (I will step down off my soap box now....)

It's not as good a Boyhood, but now has moved The Grand Budapest Hotel into third place and The Theory of Everything holding up the bottom.

Birdman (2014) - Didn't know anything going in to seeing this.  The commercials don't really tell you much about the film.  I just heard that it was supposed to be funny and very well done.  The fact is they are right.  It is very funny and a well done movie.  It's about a former super hero movie star who is trying to produce a Broadway play he is staring in.  The conflicts between his cast and him seeming loosing his mind, makes this one of the most interesting films I have seen in a while.  It has been nominated for a bunch of Oscars, not such if it will win any like American Hustle last year.  But it will gain popularity over time.

I would rank this movie as third behind Boyhood and The Imitation Game, but just ahead of The Grand Budapest Hotel.  And The Theory of Everything, are you still looking for that?  Check the end of the list.

Selma (2014) - This is an example of when you rush a film before it is completely ready, you get something that could be so great, but it just isn't.  There has been controversy about this film not getting enough Oscar recognition.  Of course people saying this are forgetting that 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture last year.  But while the movie is still worth of a Best Picture nod, it wasn't very well directed, the editing was terrible and while David Oyelowo was very good as Martin Luther King Jr., this is a very crowded year for Best Actor.

It is very frustrating that the studio didn't take it's time and release this movie later.  They were late in getting the film out for this year and they paid the price with only two nominations.  So while it is still better than The Theory of Everything, I would put this in fifth place right now.

American Sniper (2014) - This is an amazing movie about the life of Chris Kyle.  It mainly covers his four tours in Iraq and how he became the most lethal sniper in American history.  It also covers his difficulty of dealing with being at war and trying to become a civilian when he is back home.  Very powerful with a strong anti-war message, but one that makes you feel proud to see a small part of his life.  This is also the best edited movie I've seen in a long time, a shame that Clint Eastwood didn't earn another best director nod.

If the world was fair, this movie would win Best Picture.  But it isn't.  Hollywood has a history of not picking the best film of the year, and I am afraid that this will happen again this year.  So to rank all the movies, not including Whiplash the only one I haven't seen, American Sniper, Boyhood, Imitation Game, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma and The Theory of Everything.

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