AND THE WINNER IS…
Yeah, I know they don’t say that, but I like it. It’s true. The one who gets the statue is the winner. The others lose. That’s not to say they’re ‘losers’. It doesn’t mean they’ve lost at life, that they’re failures. Hell, they’re doing what they love and they’re doing it well enough to get the attention of their peers to the point that they are selected to be in the elite club that is the Oscar Nominees. You are a professional success in my book if you’ve accomplished that. But if they don’t win, they, by definition, lost. That’s just how it goes.
In any event, I like to watch the Oscars. I like to try to guess who will win. I love, like everyone else and I don’t know why, the In Memorium segment in which all the people who’ve died between last year’s telecast and this year’s are honored with sad music and a string of fade up-fade out headshots, the very notables honored with a small clip. But in order to really enjoy the Academy Awards, you have to have seen some movies. I liked watching the show when I was a kid too, but I hated that Amadeus or Terms of Endearment were up for Best Picture when I would’ve much rather have seen Goonies or Temple of Doom up for the award.
Well, I’ve grown up now and my tastes have, if not changed, expanded. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than a good Indiana Jones adventure, but I don’t mind the subtle genius of a movie like The Skeleton Twins. I’m disappointed that neither Kristen Wiig nor Bill Hader was nominated for their roles in that film. Both proved that they are so much more than comedic actors. They are Actors. Much as MacGruber proved the same in last year’s fantastic film Nebraska. See it if you haven’t.
As a result of my expanded tastes, I like to try to see as many of the Best Picture nominated movies as I can before the awards telecast. This year, I’m way behind. At the time they were announced last week, I hadn’t seen any of them. So I started this weekend with the first two: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood.
If you’ve never seen a Wes Anderson film, you’re missing out. He has a style such that you know immediately that you are watching a Wes Anderson film, a style that elicits an either ‘love him’ or ‘hate him’ response from moviegoers. It seems to me that he composes each scene as a still photograph then lets the action take place within that picture. It is a beautiful way of making a film. The camera isn’t just there to capture the actors; it is truly painting a picture.
As far as what’s going on within those pictures, well ‘quirky’ is an understatement. The characters are refreshingly unique and often odd. The people inhabiting The Grand Budapest Hotel are no exception. In fact, they are among the most likeable of any in a Wes Anderson movie. The script is tight and funny and well paced. It was a fun movie to watch. I loved it. It certainly deserves to be nominated for Best Picture. I’ll reserve my opinion as to whether or not it should win after I’ve seen all the nominees.
Boyhood is the exact opposite of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Boyhood was filmed over the course of 12 years using the same cast. That’s a neat idea. We see the main character grow up before our eyes without substituting some unknown kid whom kind of looks like the star to play the role of ‘Young Main Character’. In this case, when the movie begins, Ellar Coltrane who portrays the protagonist, Mason, is a little boy. By the end of the film, Ellar Coltrane the actor, is a grown-man same as the character Mason he’s portraying. It’s neat to see him and the other child actors grow and age as the film goes along.
The scenes with Ethan Hawke are good. I like Ethan Hawke. I think he’s a good actor, and he takes on these experimental roles (Before Sunrise for example) and he delivers. The problem with Boyhood is, he’s the only one. It felt like a student film when Hawke wasn’t on the screen. Even veteran actor Patricia Arquette comes across as stiff and unbelievable as does the rest of the cast.
Not only did shooting meander, but so too does the script, and that is not a good thing. It feels as if writer/director Richard Linklater kept rewriting and refining and changing the script to the point that one scene felt as if it had no relation to the previous scene, even if they were shot within the same time period. It was all over the place.
And as far as the experimental, and brave, approach of shooting one film over the course of twelve years, it didn’t work, at least not in this film. I’d like to see it tried again with a better script and with better execution. It was an okay movie. About an hour longer than it should’ve been. Did I like it? Yeah, overall it was enjoyable. Best Picture though? Not a chance. If Selma, American Sniper, Whiplash or Birdman are as good as people are saying, or even come close to being as good as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood doesn’t stand a chance. It’s an okay movie. It is not the Best Picture of the year.
I’m going to try to get to the rest of the nominated films between now and the big night. I will post my thoughts throughout. What do you think of these two films? Am I wrong about Boyhood? Let me know.