Best Picture for the Wrong Reasons

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One film has dominated conversation in this year’s Academy Awards race season and is garnering huge support for winning the Best Picture award. Unfortunately it is for the wrong reasons.  “Boyhood” pales in comparison to the year’s best films.

“Boyhood” is a coming of age tale that encompasses 12 years in the life of a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane). The linear film spends a short period of time with Mason and his family once per year, shedding light on 12 different points in Mason’s life. That is almost the only thing interesting about this film.

“I think “Boyhood” is definitely nominated but I don’t think it will necessarily win because the only reason it could possibly win is because it was filmed over 12 years,” said theater arts major Annika Dybevik.

There is a very high novelty factor to the film as today’s college-age adults watch Mason grow up in the same world that we ourselves grew up in. There are moments that remind the viewer thatwhat they are watching was actually filmed back in 2002, or 2003, and onward. Moments such as “Soak up the Sun” coming on the car radio as Mason fights with his sister in the back of the car bring nostalgia to the film.

“I was a little disappointed in it as a film,” said Ken Gardner, theater arts professor. “I was looking for more dramatic intensity.”

This nostalgia and novelty, however, is fueling “Boyhood” right to a Best Picture Academy Award over more deserving fare such as “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Birdman.”

Each of the mentioned films is expertly crafted and acted, far more technically than “Boyhood.” This brings about the question of what are they missing then?

The answer would simply be the novelty and nostalgia attached to the project. This is interesting because each of the above films also bring about their own levels of novelty.

“Birdman,” directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, was written and shot to appear as if the film was one long continuous shot. That in itself is a characteristic that none of the other Best Picture nominees have, one might call that novelty.

Evenly spread acting and technical nominations bring the film to a total of nine nominations, tying it for most with “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Wes Anderson, director of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” films in such a style that all of his films are considered novelty. The comedic screenplay and bold characters are highlighted by his detailed style that brings a very still, yet constantly moving energy to the film.

All three films are very different from traditional nominees and have their own characteristics that set them apart. The Best Picture winner must then be decided based on content, and this is where “Boyhood” falls short.

In terms of time commitment, there were interesting turns from both of Mason’s parents in the film (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke), bringing the tears and the laughs. One of the most interesting storylines of the film came when Olivia (Arquette), married her college professor and he turned out to by a violent alcoholic years down the road. This particular storyline was attention grabbing but short-lived as it started and ended rather quickly right in the middle of the film.

“Patricia Arquette is not necessarily one of my favorite actresses, and I think she’s nominated because it’s the first time you see a woman have that vulnerability to age in front of a camera,” said Michael Berquist, a communication major with an emphasis in television and film production. “But I don’t think her acting is what sells her performance.”

“Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” however, both have overarching themes and clear storylines that offer commentary and satire on modern day struggles. “Boyhood” acts more as a long-term reality television show that checks in on Mason every year only to find that he is aging and living just like any other millennial. This can be very interesting but only because of the level of nostalgia.

“I just don’t think there was a dramatic story. It was sort of slice of life, slice of life, slice of life,” Gardner said.

In a crowd of nominees that include the perfectly timed Martin Luther King historical drama “Selma,” the war biography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. history, “American Sniper,” the Stephen Hawking biographical drama “The Theory of Everything” and the World War Two thriller “The Imitation Game,” there is no reason a film like “Boyhood” should rise above the rest.

 

Kevin Repich
Published February 4th, 205