Tag Archives: Ethan Hawke

The Unexpected Virtue of Being Nominated

I am never more conflicted with myself than when Oscar nominations are released. It’s the same time every single year, and every time I look at them I feel a strange combination of pride and disappointment. Of course many actors and filmmakers are nominated across the board, and most of them are well deserved. But then there are always a good amount of snubs that are equally undeserved. Example: Since when does The Fault In Our Stars, Interstellar and The Lego Movie deserve zero nominations in any of the major categories?

Snubs happen every year. I expect it at this point. But what I find particularly interesting is that this year’s ceremonies are more well-rounded in their nominations. The eight best picture nominees, for instance, are also the pictures with the most nominations in the show. I think that reflects well on the Academy, especially because the best picture award isn’t won by only being nominated for best original song.

Regardless, the nominees have been released and the Oscars race has officially begun. Here are all of the best picture nominees.

Birdman

Otherwise known as The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s black comedy epic stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson, a struggling stage actor who is desperately trying to escape his image as formerly portraying a superhero. Considering the irony that Keaton has been most known for playing Batman in Tim Burton’s movies, I can’t help but think he relates more to the film than he lets on. Birdman is nominated in nine categories, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best cinematography, best sound editing and mixing, and best acting awards for Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

A surprise standout out of the other nominees, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a comedic escapade about Concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), who is framed for the murder of one of his hotel guests and for stealing her most cherished painting. As he tries to outrun law enforcement and the family assassins that are after him, he teams up with his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) to set out and prove his innocence. Written and directed by Wes Anderson (The Royal Tennenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom), The Grand Budapest Hotel has already won best comedy at the Golden Globes, so it is off to a good start in the Oscars race. The film ties with Birdman with nine nominations, including best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best cinematography, best costume design, best editing, best makeup and hairstyling, best original score, and best production design.

The Imitation Game

This historical epic stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a brilliant physicist during WWII who worked with a team to crack Enigma, a German processing machine which masks German messages through cryptographic messages. Directed by Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum and also starring Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode, and Mark Strong, The Imitation Game is nominated for eight academy awards, including best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best editing, best original score, best production, best actor for Benedict Cumberbatch and best supporting actress for Keira Knightly.

American Sniper

Based on the true story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), American Sniper tells his story working for the U.S. military, and the 120 kills he garnered throughout his military career. Directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Jason Hall, American Sniper is a late entry to the Oscars race, but it came out strong regardless. American Sniper is nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best sound editing and mixing, and best actor for Bradley Cooper.

Boyhood

The 12 year epic that everyone is talking about, and the movie everyone is dying to see. Boyhood follows the story of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from childhood to adulthood, through puberty, love, heartache, loss, and life. Richard Linklater directs Coltrane among others through this masterfully crafted drama, filmed over the period of 12 years. Ambitious both in production and vision, Boyhood was nominated for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, best film editing, and best supporting actor and actress for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette.

The Theory of Everything

The fluffy, inspirational adaptation of Stephen Hawking’s life, The Theory of Everything stars Eddie Redmayne as King and Felicity Jones as his wife Jane, and follows their relationship from college to their marriage, and covers the issues that they’ve had to face together. I personally didn’t find this film to be as imposing as the other nominees, but Redmayne’s performance and the film’s intentions are definitely something to be admired. The film is nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay, best original score, and best actor and best actress for Redmayne and Jones.

Whiplash

One of the best under-the-radar films of the year. Whiplash follows Andrew (Miles Teller), a young college student who is enrolled in an orchestra and is working to be the best drummer there is. His teacher is Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), a narcissist conductor who treats his students like he is Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. As their rivalrous relationship builds to a tense climax, both men learn more about themselves as artists and teachers to each other. Written and directed by independent filmmaker Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is one of the year’s most standout films. Featuring strong performances from its leads and masterful direction from Chazelle, Whiplash is nominated for best picture, best editing, best sound mixing, and best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons. The movie is also nominated for best adapted screenplay, even though it’s an original idea crafted by Chazelle.

Selma

Directed by Ava Duvernay and starring David Oyewolo as Martin Luther King Jr., Selma follows the civil rights movement as it builds to a climax in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The interesting thing about this film is that it only has two nominations for the evening: best picture and best original song for John Legend and Common’s “Glory.” If that is the logic behind the nominations, should Selma even be nominated for best picture? It’s more than deserving of the nomination, but it certainly isn’t great just because of the song that’s in it. Where’s the best director nomination? Best actor? Best screenplay? I feel like this movie had potential in many different categories at the Oscars, and it was snubbed for mostly all of them. It’s an utter shame to see so many great films get snubbed at the Academy Awards, and this film perhaps has been snubbed the most out of all of them.

Other films that were nominated in other categories include Foxcatcher, Interstellar, Mr. Turner, Into The Woods, Unbroken, The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy. We can gripe more about which films deserved which nominations later on, but for now, let’s be excited that Barney Stinson is hosting the awards.

– David Dunn

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“BOYHOOD” Review (✫✫✫✫)

A scrapbook by Richard Linklater.

The main character’s name in Boyhood is not Mason. His name is also David. And Connor. And Warren. Aaron. Stacey. Tony. Eric. Steven. Ben. Richard. And so on and so forth until you’ve listed every masculine name in the dictionary. I probably went eight names over how many I needed to list, but you get my point. We’re doing more than just watching one boy’s journey into adulthood here. We’re watching ourselves grow with him.

Strange, I think. I don’t normally sympathize with characters to the point where I feel like I AM them. Relating to protagonists is a somewhat straightforward task; you merely need to introduce the character along with their conflict, and then let the filmmaker do his work to bringing their arc to life.

But with Boyhood, I face an interesting prospect: there is no one conflict that Mason faces in the story. Like myself and my closest family and friends, Mason’s conflict is life itself, complete with all of its blessings, gifts, challenges, and turmoils alike. If you’re still not getting the picture, let me put it to you this way; if I were a filmmaker, and I were adapting the full story of your life, would I be able to condense it into one or two events?

The answer is no, I couldn’t. There is a whole multitude of issues you’ve faced in your life, just like I did, and I’m sure we could turn those issues into ten or twelve more movies if we tried. Director Richard Linklater chose not to do that. With Boyhood, he took one boy’s life, a small child he found named Ellar Coltrane, and followed him from age six until age 18, gradually showing his life progress and the challenges he faced as he grew into a man year, by year, by year.

It’s fascinating I tell you, to watch a movie progress from one generation to another. I look at Ellar as a young boy obsessing over cartoons and action figures while his sister, portrayed by Linklater’s daughter Lorelei, constantly talks about makeup and Britney Spears. I look at these children’s parents, played by a significantly younger Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, as they struggle to connect and be there for their children and to be the best parents they possibly can be. It’s interesting to see these children mature from young, simple-minded beings to young adults, trying to find their own paths in life while their parents mature from being those young adults to the older, more mature parents that have faced, and survived, every difficulty they could have ever faced.

It’s pointless to describe what the plot of the movie is like. What is the plot of the movie? Fill the movie with your life experiences, and you have the plot. I caught myself many times reliving past memories while watching the movie, sympathizing with Mason as I remember how I too faced issues such as bullying, peer pressure, puberty, growing up, and finding a place where I belonged.

It’s not so much a movie as it is a scrapbook of memories, and Linklater is merely showing the memories on screen like he’s pulling a photograph out of a book.

What of the performances then? Patricia and Ethan are the most emotive performances out of the movie, but that’s to be expected considering they’ve been working on this movie, among others, for literally a decade. Lorelei is cute as a child at the beginning of the film, but as the movie continues on, it begins to focus more on Ellar while Lorelei, more or less, fades in to the background.

That being said, Ellar isn’t the most compelling actor in the film. As a child at the beginning, he is the most believable, but that’s because he’s living, not acting, in the moment. When he’s playing with his friends or when he’s dressed up for the Harry Potter premiere, you know that’s him being excited in the moment, similar to how Drew Barrymore believed E.T. was real during the filming for E.T: The Extra Terrestrial. As he gets older, however, he gets less emotional about things and more or less goes through the motions wherever Linklater guides him.

At first, I thought this was an obvious criticism to the film, because how is a kid going to maintain his acting ability through 12 years of his life? As I look deeper, however, I realize that Ellar isn’t intended to give a performance. He isn’t meant to be an actor, but a surrogate, a character whose emotions and memories we fill in the film and then we sympathize with because those are the same emotions we faced when we were his age.

Mason goes through a lot in this movie. As a toddler, he witnesses his parents go through divorce. As a child, he faces abuse from his alcoholic stepfather. As a teenager, bullying. As a high schooler, heartbreak. This movie is so tangible that it made me want to grab hold of Mason. It made me want to hold him and hug him, telling him the same thing my mother told me when I was going through my own issues at his age.

I want to grab him and say to him, “You’re going to be okay, Mason. You’re going to be okay.”

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