Thursday, February 19, 2015

Awards-Nazi Award Nominees: Best Picture

And the big category is at last unveiled. I don't know who these people are that say it was a weak year for cinema. It thought it was pretty great. Maybe not quite as many four-star knock-outs as last year, but more than your average year if you ask me.

These are the five that knocked me out. My five Best Picture nominees (plus the five runners-up that round out my top ten) are:

Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, James Stotchdopole, John Lesher)
Ids, egos and superegos collide and combust (in a single take!), on stages as concrete as the Broadway theatre, and as fantastical as the imaginings of a self-obsessed actor played brilliantly by Michael Keaton in a career defining performance. Alejandro González Iňárritu's satiric slant on the artist's odyssey could have crashed and burned like the mythical Icarus it so wittily evokes, but instead it soars magnificently on its dark feathery wings.

Boyhood (Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland)
Richard Linklater's masterpiece of objective observation whispers a profound epiphany about the ethereal constancy of life hidden amongst the minutia. Life doesn't really have a beginning, middle and end. There is only a perpetual state of being; An eternal, kinetic collage of photographs that, when viewed in sequence, create a feeling so much deeper and richer than any one of them does on its own. What a beautiful and fitting metaphor to see played out on a film reel.

Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, Megan Ellison, John Kilik)
What Bennett Miller has achieved here is a sports movie that's not actually about the sport, but about something far bigger and more elusive. Beyond the microscopic scale of this stranger-than-fiction true story, a thematically denser picture takes shape about the condition of a nation, its obsession with supremacy, and escaping the shadows of someone else's legacy. Decades down the road, movie lovers will come to acknowledge it as one of the great American tragedies.

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, Claus Toksvig Kjaer, Paul Young)
What Tomm Moore has managed to fashion out of ancient Celtic myth is in fact quite remarkable, though deceptive in its simplicity. It presents its moral as an allegory and trusts its young audience to be perceptive enough to glean the meaning from it. And even if they can't, it's still a spellbinding adventure and a jaw-on-the-floor stunner to look at. Don't simply call it a great 'childrens' movie. A great movie is a great movie. No need for qualifiers.

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, Jason Blum, David Lancaster, Helen Estabrook)
This is exciting, involving, invigorating filmmaking of the highest calibre; As keenly observed as the most refined of dramas, and yet as pulse-raising as the most intense of action movies; An electrifying combustion of artistic crisis, coming-of-age and jazz music, announcing the arrival of an extraordinary young talent in writer-director Damien Chazelle. 'Good job' doesn't come close to describing this absolute lightning bolt of a film. It is great.

Just missed (rounding out the top ten):

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(Matt Reeves, Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver)
Thrilling spectacle, a story with the scope of a Shakespearean tragedy, and engaging performances (thanks to more ground-breaking technology from Weta Digital); 'Apes' has it all. If only every summer tent-pole movie was as intelligent and involving as this.

Force Majeure
(Ruben Östlund, Philippe Bober, Erik Hemmendorff, Marie Kjellson)
The scenery is blindingly white and the humour is pitch black in this frosty lampoon of traditional gender roles and male ego. Wouldn't you flee in the same situation? This sly tragicomedy illustrates how that hypothetical is a slippery ski slope, indeed.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
(Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson)
Hijinks run the gamut from the wittily madcap to the wickedly macabre in this scrumptiously designed caper. But there's a melancholy lingering beneath its delectably silly surface; A pastry-lite eulogy for a bygone era. Ralph Fiennes delivers a career highlight.

(Ava DuVernay, Christian Colson, Oprah, Dede Gardiner, Jeremy Kleiner)
Though set in the summer of 1965, this stirring fact-based drama holds a mirror up to the America of here and now, told with a verve and vitality historical docudramas often lack; A glorious rallying cry for a centuries-old movement that must continue marching forward.

(Jean-Marc Vallée, Reese Witherspoon, Bill Pohlad, Bruna Papandrea)
This beautifully written stream-of-consciousness memoir wrangles an introspective character study out of what could have been mere human interest pablum. Fragmented images and lingering sounds meld into a dreamlike meditation on grief, mourning, and closure.


  1. Quite a strong year in film. This year it was pretty easy to guess your five favourites on account of there's only five years this year you gave a perfect five star rating. So, I am 5-5, 4-5 and 5-5 three years in a row for your awards... now if only the Oscars were this easy.

    Sad that Grand Budapest Hotel or Dragons 2 couldn't make it as they were both in my Top 5, but happy to see Budapest in the "Just Misseds".

  2. Nice choices... The only thing I would switch is Song of the Sea for Grand Budapest.