Let me tell you about our little movie theater in Port Townsend. The Rose has just three screens, yet somehow we end up seeing the best films of the year. We love walking downtown to see a movie, and before each film we’re treated to an introduction that tells us behind-the-scenes tidbits.
This year we saw all the nominated Oscar Films. I can’t begin to pick a winner, but I’ll tell you what I think of each film.
Whiplash – This is a stunning film about a wannabe jazz drummer and his hard-driving, head-game-playing, abusive teacher. Loosely based on real life, Whiplash is an intense ride. There’s an odd sag in the middle where the plot falls apart, so I wouldn’t give it a best picture nod, but it has a powerful ending and a brilliant performance by J. K. Simmons.
American Sniper – Forget the controversy and go see the film. I’m a pacifist from way back, and Clint Eastwood’s performance to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention did not impress, but holy cow, what a film. Bradley Cooper is mesmerizing as real-life sniper Chris Kyle.
Birdman – A lot of people will tell you this film is brilliant. I didn’t get it. Sorry. I love Michael Keaton and am glad he’s getting his due, but this was too “out there” for me.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Another quirky, fun, enjoyable ride from Wes Anderson. I’m turning into a real fan. I doubt this film will win (Oscar seems to love the “serious” films), but I’m thrilled to see it nominated.
The Imitation Game – Based on the life of Alan Turing, whose contributions to the modern computer remained in obscurity for decades, and who endured unspeakable Nazi-esque “treatment” for being gay, The Imitation Game brings attention to Turing’s achievements.
Selma – My personal favorite, Selma focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s protests in Selma over voting rights. David Oyelowo’s performance is not to be missed. Was he robbed? Hard to say. The Best Actor field is a tough one yet again this year, with not enough room for every great performance. Still, it’s fantastic work.
The Theory of Everything – Here’s another unbelievable acting performance, this time from Eddie Redmayne, who somehow inhabits the disease-ridden body of Stephen Hawking. Though Hawking’s real life is a bit more lurid than that which ended up on film, it’s a wonderful tribute to a brilliant man. Do nerds rule this year? We’ve got Hawking and Turing movies up for Best Picture. Maybe there’s hope that it will one day be cool to be smart.
Boyhood – A lot of people think this is the winner. I don’t know. It was…okay. It’s a unique film because the same actors were filmed over a 12-year period. The problem, for me, was some of the story got lost in the process.
Do you enjoy movies? What were your favorites this year (nominated or not)?