Last year, my husband and I made a New Year's Resolution to see all of the Best Picture nominees. I ended up writing about them here. We had so much fun checking movies off the list last year that we decided to make it a two-year tradition. And if seeing the movies is a tradition, shouldn't writing about them be one too?
One disclaimer: I have not yet seen American Sniper. I'm familiar with its premise, storyline, massive amount of controversy, etc., but we are saving that one for this upcoming weekend because we had pre-arranged plans to see it with someone we know.
So, without further ado, my four random thoughts about this year's crop:
1. There's something for everyone.
Last year, I recommended that if you only had to pick two, I would suggest Dallas Buyer's Club and Her. I cannot make a similarly simplistic recommendation like that this year. Each of the 2015 nominees is unique and worth your time for very distinct reasons. Theory of Everything for people who love science and Stephen Hawking. Birdman for showbusiness-centric, Hollywood-insider focus and jokes. Grand Budapest Hotel for gorgeous visuals and that unique, quirky Wes Anderson sensibility. American Sniper for the patriot. Whiplash for the competitive, destructive loner (who also likes music). Boyhood for a study of American childhood and a look back to the places, life stages, and toys you loved. Selma for a rousing, important story from America's history paired with spectacular acting and beautiful (beautiful!!) cinematography. And The Imitation Game for the WWII buffs, Benedict Cumberbatch groupies, and computer enthusiasts. Seriously, give one, give all a try. They're all worth it.
2. It's all about the boys
So, there's something for everyone in this year's set...unless you are a someone who prefers to watch movies about women. In that case, there is nothing for you. A few months back one of my friends posted something on Facebook about how the man who wins Best Actor always wins for a role portraying an eccentric genius that overcomes immense amounts of external doubt in order to succeed. In 2015, that formula seems to have been a requirement to even be considered for Best Picture.
3. What a weird world we live in
For most years that I can remember, conservatives across the country have rolled their eyes at the "liberal Hollywood fare" that tends to be recognized at the Oscars (i.e. anything by Michael Moore, Crash, any speech given by almost any politically active actor ever). And the eye rolling has had plenty of justification. And yet, this year, roles have been reversed. Conservatives find themselves in the position of defending and supporting the avalanche of nominations the Academy bestowed upon American Sniper while liberals write think piece after think piece on why the movie is not worthy because it ignores all the "real" questions we need to ask about the War on Terror.
I personally have no opinion on the dispute, given I haven't seen the movie--I'm just inherently amused by strange bedfellows. What does strike me as strange is that this year more than any other, you get that icky feeling that the nominees were determined by a bunch of old white guys (whether they be conservative or liberal) sitting together in a room. When you look at a list of "the best" movies and see nothing about women, and then look at a list of "the best" actors and see only white faces, you do have to wonder if someone has their thumb on the proverbial scale. And maybe that thumb is actually only present in the sourcing process, deciding which movies we can argue about in future years by funding some and rejecting others. But to say that the movie-making and movie-honoring process is completely devoid of bias is so obviously false that to claim otherwise is ridiculous.
4. Finally, despite all the 2015 weirdness, twelve years in Texas is right where I want to be
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that nothing, nothing holds a candle to Boyhood, either this year or any year (unless you're talking about Richard Linklater's other masterpieces, the Before movies). This year's crop of movies has something for everyone, but Boyhood is truly for everyone--from the casual moviegoer to the artsy-est arthouse critic. Like I said about Before Midnight last year, Richard Linklater does not need awards to cement himself in the hearts and minds of his audience. But man, seeing a guy who eschews celebrity like he does get a trophy and then look awkward onstage while being forced to address millions of people--that will bring a little sliver of joy to my heart. I really hope it happens.