The 9th Annual Oscars tradition by the baseball widow and me is complete and I have ranked the films as how I liked them. I am sure there are people that agree with me, people that disagree with me and quite frankly people who really don't care what I have to say. I will say this, I have picked 7 of the last 9 winners accurately. I am calling shenanigans on "The Artist" in 2011, I did not think it was better than "War Horse", "The Descendants" or even the "The Help". But what do I know. My other miss was in 2007 when I had "There Will Be Blood" slightly ahead of "No Country for Old Men". This was the best field since the Academy expanded the nominations. Here are my rankings how I see them.
1. American Sniper - I really liked this movie. Not because of the controversy, not because of my high respect of the military, but because it was a great film. A friend of mine pointed out to me (while reading the book) that he could not connect with Chris Kyle. He was right, I may have connected a little more than him, but some of the decisions that Kyle made when it came to redeployment I could not relate to, even if I was a soldier. Nevertheless, I thought Director Clint Eastwood did a great job capturing the demons that Chris Kyle was living with during the Iraq war. He brought to life what the soldiers were going through against the insurgent soldiers. I have to admit, the ending of the movie is really moving and I would not judge anybody that cried during it. If I had a vote, this movie this movie would get the Oscar.
2. Selma - This was a very well done movie and not for the obvious reasons. Not only was the story of the march from Selma told very well but what intrigued me most about this movie was the story of the imperfections behind this historic event. How Dr. King was portrayed as an adulterer, a smoker and somewhat of a narcissist. How Coretta Scott King was not as initially supportive of her husband’s actions. How LBJ was portrayed as a fraud by being more concerned with his legacy than the movement that he was credited for pushing forward. I thought the movie was directed very well and the director did in fact get snubbed for a nomination. Not my top pick for the Oscar but I would not be disappointed if it won.
3. Birdman - This one totally caught me by surprise, and to be honest it shouldn't have. The story was a little quirky but somewhat believable. The cast was great and the acting and directing was fantastic. Michael Keaton gave a great performance and should win Best Actor for it, but he is in great company in that category as well. The reason that this movie did not get the number one vote because there were some scenes and story lines that were irrelevant to the movie and I felt like they were just trying to fill time. It wasn't a lot, but it was enough for me to mention. This is a must see if you are looking for a good rental.
4. Whiplash - This one really caught me by surprise. I went into it thinking that it was the token Indie film that the Academy had to add when they expanded the field. Nope! This movie was deserving of the nomination. The story is probably a very common occurrence if you really look into it. It is a sort of coming of age story but for the wrong reasons. Miles Teller goes from a lovable goofball that you are rooting for, to a guy you just want to punch in the face. However, J.K. Simmons steals the show in this movie and should definitely win Best Supporting Actor, but once again he is in good company. I would definitely recommend seeing this movie. It's funny, disturbing and sad all wrapped in one.
5 a. The Theory of Everything - I really couldn't decide between this and 5 b. They were both fantastic films. I made this one "a" because the fact that Stephen Hawking is still alive is mesmerizing. The story was more about his wife Jane and the troubles she went through dealing with Stephen's disability. Some could say she could have been a little more devoted and appreciative of the family foundation. Some could also say that she was young when she got into this and dealing with three children and a debilitated husband was more than anyone could ask for. The one thing I really did like about this movie was how nobody was really cast as a villain in this relationship, when it would be really easy to do sp. This movie was good but not worth the Oscar.
5 b. Imitation Game - I really liked this movie. I love World War II history, no matter what the topic, so this movie had that going for it from the start. The story of Alan Turing is great and I must admit, I wish I had a mind like that. Where a simple conversation could trigger him to come up with a theory to complete the task at hand. The acting in this movie is great, even though I think Benedict Cumberbatch is an overrated actor. Kiera Knightly was brilliant as always. The one thing I did not like about this movie was the wrap up at the conclusion of the film. I think the order of the wrap up took away from the actual events and it gave a completely different depiction of the story. I'm not saying the piece should have been omitted, because it was an important piece. It should have been noted afterwards. Just saying.
7. Boyhood - Conceptually this movie should win in a walk. Unfortunately, concept alone doesn't win the award. This was a true coming of age film in every sense of the word. The issues I had with this film were, first, you never knew what year they were in, how old main character Mason was and I always felt like I was trying to catch up. Secondly, the movie lacked substance. It just did not give me enough. There was no real story other than that we were watching Mason grow up. I did think that Ethan Hawke was brilliant in this movie as he was the one actor who truly went through an evolution during the movie, garnering him a Supporting Actor nomination. I will say this, this is an interesting movie and if you have almost three hours to kill, check it out.
8. (Distant 8) - The Grand Budapest Hotel - I completely forgot that this was a Wes Anderson film because Wes Anderson, to me, is very forgettable. I really want to like his movies because he always has a great cast, but I just can't do it. I do have to say this, if it weren't for Wes Anderson Jason Schwartzman would not have a very good career in acting. Anyhow, if you have seen Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums or Moonrise Kingdom, watch them again and move on. The Grand Budapest Hotel is not worth the time.
There you have it folks, my rankings. I truly believe that seven out of the eight nominees have a good chance at winning. If The Grand Budapest Hotel does manage to come out on top, I will lose all faith in the Oscars and start my own movie awards.
If you don't take it from me, ask my wife