My rankings of the movies involved with the Oscars this year, excluding Foxcatcher and Whiplash (Sorry guys didn’t have enough time and money to watch them) SPOILERS ABOUND!
I will provide you the movies in order from best to worst, in my opinion, the reason why the movie is ranked where it is, and my favorite scene from that said movie
1. Selma: Directed by Ava DuVernay, Starring: David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Corretta Scott King, Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson, and Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace.
The Reason: Because this movie made me feel unbelievably sad, happy, and disgusted with human nature. It also showed a side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that, at least from what I’ve seen or heard of, that hasn’t really been shown before. He was doubtful, he had affairs, he smoked cigarettes, and he used race to solve conflicts. He was, and I hate this term, but a race-baiter. The scene where this is incredibly relevant is when Lyndon B. Johnson accused King of wanting some white people to get hurt and King doesn’t deny it. That’s not to say that he went in with the intention that a lot of white people were going to die or hoping that they would, but rather that he knew the power of race and he was going to use. Also, the scene in which the two African Americans get killed in the restaurant nearly broke me.
Favorite Scene: The scene where King finds out that two white priests have been killed and he nearly falls flat on his face. But he doesn’t. He composes himself and the next thing he says is “Get me the President on the phone” or something to that effect. He was upset with the loss of life but he also understood how this could be used to push policy and get the President to do what he wanted and what African Americans needed in the south.
2. Birdman Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Starring: Michael Keaton as Riggan, Emma Stone as Sam, Naomi Watts as Lesley, and Edward Norton as Mike.
The Reason: The cinematography. The meta-ness of this film. The story. The single shot. The acting. The relevance to Hollywood’s obsession with trilogies and superhero movies. All of it. Michael Keaton gets the most love from me within this film. He came right out of nowhere and played a character and acted like I personally have never seen him do before. He was utterly fantastic.
Favorite Scene: The final performance with Michael Keaton
3. American Sniper Directed by: Clint Eastwood, Starring: Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as Taya
The Reason: Because Bradley Cooper gives one hell of a performance, the story is quite good, and I think it is neither a pro-war film nor an anti-war film. It’s a film focusing on one man’s story and relationship to the Afghanistan/Iraq war. It shows his relationship to it, how it affects him physically and emotionally and how it affects his family as well. It’s a movie that’s similar to The Hurt Locker in that it just shows war without, I believe, any politically agenda behind it. Which does not mean, of course, that it hasn’t been.
Favorite Scene: The scene in which Bradley Cooper nearly assassinates the kid who is picking up the rocket launcher. His facial expression, the noise that he makes, his eyes, his tone, everything within that minute scene were just spot on and appeared completely realistic.
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel Directed By: Wes Anderson, Starring: Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, F. Murrary Abraham as Mr. Moustafa, Jude Law as the young writer, Tom Wilkinson as Author, Tilda Swinton as Madame D. Tony Revolori as Zero, Edward Norton as Henckels, Adrien Brody as Dmitri, and Willem Defoe as Jopling, and Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacks
The Reason: I am usually not a fan of Wes Anderson films. I liked Fantastic Mr. Fox, did not enjoy the Royal Tenebaums, and wasn’t a huge fan of Rushmore. The awkwardness of his characters usually bothers me. The characters in Grand Budapest are fantastic and the story is really really good. I loved Revolori and Fiennes and I thought they actually did seem like mentee and mentor. Their relationship was fantastic and it felt real. And the ending, ugh, was heart-wrenching.
Favorite Scene: The two scenes on the train. I liked how it encompassed so many things, mis-use of power, love, and strength. They were so well done and the ending to the second train scene was heart breaking.
5. The Theory of Everything Directed by: James Marsh, Starring: Eddie Redmayne, as Stephen Hawking, Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, and Charlie Cox as Johnathan Hellyer Jones
The Reason: Because this movie is good, but not great. Eddie Redmayne’s performance is incredible and he does come across as Sir Hawking in a majority of a scenes but the story wasn’t as captivating as say Selma. Where Selma made me bawl, The Theory of Everything made me slightly upset. It’s a story that needs to be told and should be but I just didn’t think it was spectacular.
Favorite Scene: The most upsetting and emotionally draining scene was where Hawking struggles up the stairs and finds himself looking up at his child at the top of the stairs. This was a well shot scene that displayed exceptionally well just how debilitating his disease was both physically and emotionally.
6. Boyhood Directed by: Richard Linklater, Starring Ellar Contrane as Mason, Patricia Arquette as Mom, Lorelei Linklater as Samantha, and Ethan Hawke as Dad
Reason: God I really did want to love this movie. I remember first hearing about it and seeing that trailer and just being blown away. This movie had so much potential but the one reason why I was very dissatisfied with the film over all was due to Ellar Coltrane’s performance. He was an affectively neutral kid who never got upset, angry, or even screamed for that matter, and performances like that only get better when the character goes to the other end of a scale. A character I appreciate is one who “loses it”. Let’s say the individual who has everything planned out and nothing goes according to plan, nothing. I want to see how that character reacts and I want to see how the actor performs it. Anyone can play the stoner Brad Pitt from True Romance but not many people can play Walter White as he runs over two drug dealers in an attempt to save Jesse Pinkman’s life. Matter of fact, not many people can play Walter White or Jesse Pinkman, two individuals who are rarely ever affectively neutral. And it is so frustrating because there were moments in which Mason could have reacted, he could have been angry, mad, thrown something at the wall, he had two deadbeat alcoholic stepfathers, but we don’t see any of that. Ellar Coltrane was exactly that and the phenomenal performances from Arquette and Hawke could not save this movie for me. I loved the methodology for this film but the performances were just lackluster. I also was not a huge fan of Linklater’s use of media to beat it over the viewer’s head to show the viewer what era it was. He did it several times throughout with the use of Samantha singing “Oops I did it Again” and the song choices he used throughout the film. I thought it was a bit much and it felt somewhat forced to me
Favorite Scene: The scene in which Mason and his sister are their step-siblings are being questioned by their alcoholic stepfather. It’s a tense film that came across as incredibly realistic and very disturbing.
7. The Imitation Game Directed by: Morten Tyldum, Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Allen Turing, Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke, Matthew Goode as Hugh Alexander, Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies, and Charles Dance as Commander Denniston
The Reason: Ugh. This movie should have been darker, rawer, and grittier. It was too “Disney” for me. The scene that did it for me, when Turing and his team did the Three Musketeers, all for one and one for all. He was told that he was being kicked off the team and despite him being rude and incredibly short to his team mates they say, “If you take Turing off this case, we’re going too”. It just felt too forced and incredibly scripted. I think Turring’s story is a story that needs to be told but I think that the story was too washed out in order to be more accessible by a wider audience and because of that, it lost me. I also wish more time was spent explaining the machine. I know, science isn’t often sexy, but I just got sick of him offering very little information as to how his machine worked and just shots of him constantly tinkering at it.
Favorite Scene: I guess the scene in which the viewer sees Turing post chemical castration. This is a gut-wrenching scene and Benedict Cumberbatch plays it quite well.