Sorry I didn’t continue my regular movie reviews this year but I was not able to keep up with the movies with the round of hospitalizations we had throughout the year. However, we were able to see most of the nominated movies at the end of the year so I feel somewhat qualified to make my annual picks.
Those nominated for best movie of the year are:
- American Sniper directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. This is one of the most talked about movies because of its timely subject matter and its startling portrayal of today’s modern warrior. We see the physical and mental toll war has on a soldier and his family. The film is a true story of legendary sniper Chris Kyle’s four tours of Iraq as a Navy SEAL. The film is excellent in all departments and could be Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s best. I give it an A.
- Birdman; in a case of art imitating life this film is about an actor (Michael Keaton) who was famous for playing the superhero Birdman (Batman) trying to establish a new career on Broadway. He is haunted by self-doubt and the film constantly jumps from the real to the surreal. This technique is a bit confusing in the beginning but it gives us insight into his psyche. In addition to analyzing a character’s character the film is also an excellent peek at a behind the scenes stage production. The film is a bit off-beat but also engaging. I give it a B
- Boyhood is another out of the ordinary film. It was shot over a 12 year period using an unknown child actor and real actors Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the dysfunctional parents. It follows a family from the time the boy is 6 years to 18 and graduation from high school. The film is like watching home movies of a family, warts and all. Many critics are raving about it but it left me wondering, “What’s the point?” other than proving that a film can be made over 12 years. I give it a C-.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel is another film using unconventional methods. This is a Wes Anderson film and his films can be described as creative, unique, bizarre, or strange. The story is about a once luxurious hotel, a randy concierge who is particularly fond of older, wealthy women, and his assistant, the lobby boy. It is a farcical comedy with many famous actors popping up in cameos. Visually, it is outstanding with almost every scene perfectly staged so each could almost be framed and seen in a gallery. If you like off-beat comedies, mysteries, and wild-goose chases all with a twist then this movie is for you. As for me, I like my movies a little less bizarre. I give it a B.
- The Imitation Game is about Alan Turing who invented the first computer to crack the German Enigma encryption code machine. What makes this story even more engrossing is Turing is not only racing against time to try to solve the German codes to end the war; but he is laboring under the handicap of keeping his homosexuality a secret. This is an excellent movie about a little know chapter of WWII. I give it an A.
- Selma is about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the freedom march on Selma. Since I did not see it I will not review it or give it a grade. Stay tuned, I hope to see it when it comes out on DVD.
- The Theory of Everything tells the story of Stephen Hawking and his diagnosis and battle with progressive motor neuron disease also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig disease. When Hawking was diagnosed with the disease in 1963 he was told he had only two years to live. Through sheer determination he refuses to allow the pessimistic prognosis to rule his life. Although his discussions of black holes and quantum gravitation are far beyond my ability to comprehend and his downward physical progression can be depressing, the movie is actually uplifting and even funny in places. Eddie Redmayne carries the movie by actually morphing into Stephen Hawking and vividly portraying his gradual physical decline. Don’t let the subject matter deter you from seeing this brilliant movie of one of the most brilliant minds of our time. I give it an A.
- Whiplash is the last of the nominated movies. This is another one I did not see but hope to see in the future.
My favorites of the nominated movies are American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything. All three are biographical but very different in subject matter. I think the sentimental favorite will be American Sniper because of the patriotic theme and the Academy’s love for Clint Eastwood. However, I see buzz over Birdman, Boyhood, and The Grand Budapest Hotel as well. My personal favorite and the one I am picking to win is American Sniper.
Grab a big bowl of popcorn and snuggle in for what looks like another cold and snowy night. What better way to spend a gloomy night than watching the glitz and glamour of Golden Hollywood. The Academy Awards always entertain.