This past week has been a busy one to catch up on movies for the coming Oscars on Sunday night. I have all but American Sniper watched (and I finished half of that yesterday). I watched Boyhood last Thursday and then The Boxtrolls (animated nominee) and finally Selma last night.
None of these viewings changed my mind as to the Best Picture for 2014. It is still The Imitation Game for me. I enjoyed both Boyhood and Selma for different reasons. Both are worthy nominees for Best Picture.
Boyhood was long and plodded along. It was an ordinary story about everyday life in South central US. In this case Texas. Young boy in the beginning grows and ages over time and we see most of that in his hair style. Those around him do as well. Mom, older precocious and overly-talkative sister and then Dad (already separated from Mom when we meet him). Dad is finding his way early. Not really there, exploring music and not seeing his kids much. We find out that eldest daughter wasn’t exactly planned. Mom moves into an educational mode going back to school and hooks up with a couple wrong men – hard drinking men who are abusive in different ways. Meanwhile boy grows and find out what interests him. He is an interesting kid. Quite a commitment from a Director to sign him on for 12 years. I wonder how much of the story was scripted out in Year 1. Likely most. But how much leeway was there for shaping it to the kid’s interests and personality? For me, this is Best Director. I do not see the Supporting Actress nominations here. Hawke nor Arquette. Neither of the roles is an emotional stretch. There are not many powerful soliloquies, except Mom who selfishly and incredibly takes away from son’s life event moment of going off to College. Sad really.
Selma was last night and I see the thievery from the Academy for David Oyelowo who is cast as MLK. Our much talked about discussion on bio-pics runs true here. You can watch the MLK speeches in Montgomery Alabama. Can watch the other very public aspects of King’s life at this time. Yet Oyelowo finds more than home movies here. More than newsreel footage. You see real emotion and angst as he struggles at home and with those who are losing loved ones based upon his direction and his commitment to non-violence. It’s powerful. Much like Stephen Hawking the life is well known. It’s in the spotlight. But to have him not even nominated, it is a travesty. Plain and simple. I cringe at the fast that most of the Academy is American. It puts good films not focused on the US (like Imitation Game at a disadvantage) but one would think that it would assist with a Best Actor nomination. Overall, quality performances with a powerful story. As a lawyer, the legal “right” to something clearly can be usurped by ill-intended clerks and local administrators who can prevent basic rights – like voting which have a ripple effect on judges, juries and the whole legal system. Here too, we have Lyndon Johnson, who I don’t think that history has treated kindly (justifiably so) showing more fortitude ultimately than I think was there. If it is true, it is amazing how much communication took place between the President and MLK directly.
Finally the Boxtrolls. Here is a Sheridan College grad directing and old school animation piece – with stop animation where every movement is done by hand and filmed one frame at a time. Not computers. This is very nice looking. Remarkable in look and feel in places. The story suffers. This is not Finding Nemo or Beauty and the Beast. It is a decent tale, but it did not grab my 10yo’s attention. I am still amazed that Lego Movie got snubbed. Not even nominated. There is no accounting for taste it would seem. Does the father figure and mayor of the town really care more for CHEESE than his own daughter? Think on that.