Quest for the Best (2015 Edition, Round 2)

Film ReelSince our last report on our quest to see the Best Picture, Candice and I have seen three more of this year’s nominees.  So let’s get to it.

We walked to our “commercial” theatre (the Regal) in downtown Silver Spring earlier this week to see Selma. This movie has had its share of controversy, from the treatment of Lyndon Johnson in the film, to the snub from the Academy in terms of award nominations. David Oyelowo was excellent as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a performance certainly deserving of a Best Actor nomination. But the film was stilted at times, and uneven.

Selma is not the year’s Best Picture, but it is the most important film of the year.  We forget too quickly how difficult it was to attain rights for all, and how much pressure there is, even today, to restrict or even take away those rights.  I have members of my extended family who love to wave the Confederate flag, without any understanding of what that really means. I grew up in the South in the 1960s. I remember seeing these scenes on television. I saw first hand how blacks were treated then.  It was terrible. In some ways, it is still terrible. We can do better.

Last evening, we returned to the AFI Silver Theatre to see Birdman. Though it took a bit for me to get into this film, once drawn in I very much enjoyed this story of a faded Hollywood actor’s attempt to make it on Broadway. The acting here is terrific, beginning with Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson (the Birdman), Emma Stone as Riggan’s daughter Sam, and Edward Norton, Jr. as the acclaimed Broadway actor Mike Shiner.  (Note: Ed Norton – Edward’s father – is a former colleague.) The chemistry between Stone and Norton is terrific. Naomi Watts as the actress Lesley (and Mike’s former girlfriend) and Zach Galifianakis as Riggan’s lawyer are also wonderful. The long single-camera takes are a great device, and the drumming in the soundtrack sets the tone for the story.  While this isn’t my first choice, I could understand – and support – this as the Best Picture winner.

This afternoon, we visited the Union Market redevelopment area of Washington, north of Union Station, to see Boyhood in the Angelika Pop-up Theatre.  This is another excellent movie, but to me it was flawed by being about a half hour too long. Tighter editing would have helped.  However, I enjoyed this coming of age story, and thought that the mother – played by Patricia Arquette – was especially good. Much has been made of the filming of this movie over a total of 12 years. I certainly enjoyed watching the characters age, and – with only a few exceptions – become more sympathetic.

We’ve now seen six of the eight nominees.  We’re planning on catching Whiplash in a few days, and we’re not going to see American Sniper.  (I’ll explain that choice in my next post.)

Here are my rankings of the six we’ve seen to date (and I’ve even changed my order from the last post):

1.  The Imitation Game

2.  Birdman

3.  Grand Budapest Hotel

4.  The Theory of Everything

5.  Boyhood

6.  Selma

And Candice has also weighed in as well.  Her rankings are:

1.  The Imitation Game

2.  Grand Budapest Hotel

3.  Birdman

4.  The Theory of Everything

5.  Boyhood

6.  Selma

Check back next week when I “declare” the winner.

More to come…

DJB

 

One Response

  1. […] of the top picture nominees from two highly unqualified movie critics around 2012, and did our last round in 2015.  Sometimes in year’s past, we weren’t interested in seeing up to a third of the […]

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