By: Nick Salacki, Contributing Writer
The category for Best Picture comes down to the best of the best for this year, eight movies that achieve everything you could ever want in a feel-good film. But there has been a lot of talk and some controversy among most of these films, more in one season than I believe I have ever experienced in my lifetime. Whether it was justified or not when choosing the nominees, this year has made for one hell of an award season, filled with such talented actors, beautiful story telling and much deserved praise for this year’s Oscar newcomers.
The nominations for Best Picture are “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash.”
Such a surprise entrance “American Sniper” took this year. I believe the Clint Eastwood picture holds a similar position as “The Hurt Locker” held in 2010, except in “Sniper,” it seems to have a contrarily conveyed sense of propaganda. While it holds the place of this year’s cookie-cutter present-day war drama, it is not likely to win for Picture as “Locker” did, partially due to the negative stigma by the media that followed its wide-release. It’s a film I did not personally select for my top five in this category.
“Birdman” seems to be hot on the trail of possible big winners this year, statistically speaking, between second or third place to win for Picture, and has a strong possibility of winning for Original Screenplay and Cinematography. “Birdman” is this year’s “American Hustle” when it comes to the previously stated categories as well as the legacy that comes from all members of the main cast, becoming the year’s top recognized cast/ensemble. The film portrays the human body and mind and its limitations splendidly, with the awe-inspiring performance of Keaton as the icing on the cake.
“Boyhood” will win for Best Picture. It is my official selection and I do believe that the Academy will make the same choice. Director Richard Linklater truly encompasses the human condition through this 12-year project, based around the growth of young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from age 5 to 18, perfected through the passion and perseverance that should be an example to filmmakers everywhere. This win will create a bigger wave of recognition throughout the entire independent side of the film industry.
Director Wes Anderson is a friend to the Academy, and with “Hotel,” he has a good chance of going home with the big award. “Hotel” won the Golden Globe for Best Picture — comedy or musical, so on paper, this is where Anderson has a shot. But while this film was one of his best, it may surprise “Birdman” with the Original Screenplay win and it could win for Production Design, but most likely not for “Hotel.”
“The Imitation Game” is this year’s best British/Historical biopic. All season, the Benedict Cumberbatch led film has kept up with this year’s frontrunners in the race for Best Picture, always being brought up on broadcasted reviews. It’s personally one of my favorites this year and all definitely should experience it. The legacy and achievements of WWII-era mathematician Alan Turing was once repressed from the public spotlight, turning down the possibility of a homosexual war hero, but this Morten Tyldum directed picture helps brings his name back to life.
Sadly, Best Picture is one of only two nominations “Selma” has received this year (the other being Original Song), and even though it greatly deserves this spot, through Ava DuVernay’s gripping style and snubbed David Oyelowo’s breakthrough portrayal of Dr. King, I feel its spot was given out of charity, as if this achievement was realized with such ease due to its positive stigma, following the likes of last year’s winner “12 Years A Slave” and Oprah Winfrey’s major support.
“The Theory of Everything” achieves what it was set out to achieve, to retell the love that once was between Jane and Stephen Hawking. This made for such raw beauty and emotion as portrayed only through the eyes of Felicity Jones’ Jane Hawking. The film’s nomination is an amazing feat but it would definitely not be in my top five picks for this category.
The 87th Academy Awards will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and take place on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. on ABC.
– Critic’s Note: This critic has not yet attended a screening of “Whiplash” (nominee for Best Picture).