Oscars preview: Beyond ‘Boyhood’

By on February 4, 2015

February is here, which means the 87th Academy Awards are right around the corner. So, which movie will take home the Oscar for the most coveted position in this year’s lineup? Let’s take a look at the nominees for Best Picture.

I had to scour the county to find a theater still showing “Boyhood,” and I wish I hadn’t put so much effort into the endeavor. “Boyhood” is the tale of Mason, a young boy we meet at the age of five. Mason, played by Ellar Coltrane, is shuffled from home to home as his young mother (Patricia Arquette) tries to find herself while furthering her education. Ultimately, Mason and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) find some semblance of stability in a small Texas town. They grow up and the lens is there to follow them-sometimes. The movie actually jumps years willy-nilly and there are points where viewers have to guess the ages of the young subjects. And that is exactly all there is to “Boyhood.”

It took director Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”) 12 years to film “Boyhood;” this allowed him to film Coltrane as he aged in real time as Mason. While the use of single actors is groundbreaking and really allows theatergoers to connect with the subjects it comes off as nothing more than a gimmick. “Boyhood” is a story simply going nowhere. We meet Mason; we leave Mason. In between are snippets of real life-no complications (other than those of an average boy), nothing shocking, all a bit bland. If I were to guess, I would say the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts, and Sciences wanted to acknowledge the creative device of using actors in real time by giving “Boyhood” a best picture nomination. Heck, it may even win. But, I hope not.

“Boyhood,” directed by Richard Linklater is nominated for Best Picture this year. The movie, filmed over a 12-year period, follows the life of a young boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, who ages before the eyes of the viewer. (Photo courtesy of austintexas.org )

“Boyhood,” directed by Richard Linklater is nominated for Best Picture this year. The movie, filmed over a 12-year period, follows the life of a young boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, who ages before the eyes of the viewer. (Photo courtesy of austintexas.org)

Other contenders

What I am hoping wins is “The Imitation Game,” which was featured in the last Reel Reviews (and is available online). As I said, “Great movies make the viewer question the world. “The Imitation Game” is a great movie.” On the surface, “The Imitation Game” is the story of Alan Turing and his work deciphering Nazi messages during WWII, but the movie is so much more. There is a raw vision of humanity in “The Imitation Game;” it goes beyond entertainment and becomes an important visage of the human record.

Joining the two aforementioned movies are six others nominated for best picture. “Whiplash” is the story of a drummer prodigy (Miles Teller) who enrolls at a tough school of music where he tries to chase his dreams of greatness and is mentored by a demanding teacher (J.K. Simmons; “Spider-Man” and “Juno”). “Whiplash” is bit of an underdog for the win, but I wouldn’t mind seeing young director Damien Chazelle taking the stage. “Birdman” may be the picture walking away with the most statues on Feb. 22. Just listing the major cast members shows how much potential this movie has for Oscar success — Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts. Nominated for nine Oscars, I expect “Birdman” to come away with at least four statues.

Sizing up against “Birdman” is “American Sniper” (reviewed in the last Reel Reviews); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” from directing genius Wes Anderson; “Selma,” the chronicle of Martin Luther King Jr.; and “The Theory of Everything,” the touching and wonderfully beautiful story of Stephen Hawking and his wife, Jane. The next edition of Reel Reviews will look at nominees for best actor and actress. Please send in your opinions.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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