2015 Oscar Nominations for Best Picture
Selma doesn’t open with a bang, and anyone unfamiliar with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might get lost in the early moments. The civil rights activist receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace may be wasted on a few. However, once that scene is over, things shift with the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, where four little black girls were killed. Selma vividly takes you through the struggle of the civil rights era as an African-American woman, played by Oprah, attempts to vote amid sabotage by white citizens. The media mogul is also a co-producer of the film and she does not hog any attention. As an example of a bold citizen during this tumultuous time, she becomes the face of African-Americans whose freedoms were gained through King’s movement.
David Oyelowo (pronounced O-yellow-o) was born in England to Nigerian parents who both worked in transportation. He brings a brilliant, steady and dynamic portrayal of King to the table.
His performance is dynamic, although he doesn’t quite channel the voice of King convincingly. Still, the speeches are stirring. Oyelowo was also in “The Butler,” “Lincoln,” and others. This one may give him an edge as a top-tier contender. Ava DuVernay also stands to come away with the first African-American woman nominee for best producer.
Based on Chris Kyle’s book, ‘American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History’ we get a close look at the late Navy SEAL’s four tours of duty. Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle) and Sienna Miller (Taya) star in this sad war drama about a soldier’s time in Iraq.
Inspired by the bombing of a U.S. Embassy, Kyle decides to enlist in the military and initially kills a woman and child who bombed American soldiers. As he grows more involved with his sniper duties, he also grows increasingly distant to his family back home. The stress of the battlefield proves too much for Kyle to handle as the movie shows you just how difficult it can be to transition from serviceman to civilian.
The Imitation Game tells the story of Alex Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a cryptographer who joins a British team intent on decrypting the Nazi Enigma machine. Although skillful Alex, who is gay, struggles to gain acceptance among his peers. One notable team member is the young, attractive Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightly) who is pressured by her parents not to work with the male-dominated crew. To keep her around Alex marries her, hiding his homosexuality for the time being. However, that is short-lived as he is later arrested and convicted for indecency. In order to avoid going to jail, Alex is even forced to undergo chemical castration. He suffers but with the encouragement and support of Joan by his side.
Tight as a wire, Birdman has many high points. The consuming emotion and the volatile actors give this piece a dark comedy feel, along with exceptional levels of drama. A virtual tour de force, this is an undertaking of merit. Michael Keaton leads a top-shelf cast in his title role. Alejandro G. Inarritu infuses this film with his directorial skills.
This film took about 30 days to shoot, but one wouldn’t know this by viewing it. It’s dark but there is an exciting element to it, as it pushes the boundaries quite well without going entirely off the charts. You’ll either hate this one or you’ll love it.
Capturing a longitudinal view of a life, “Boyhood,” is a first of its kind cinematic undertaking. 39 specific days of a boy’s life, his regular every day experiences, his coming of age, his family dynamics and his chiseling out of an identity are all captured in this piece. Richard Linklater gives this slice-of-life portrayal his level best in every way. In its sum and total, the movie is extraordinary, even though some of the moments are typical depictions of the life of a boy/young man.
By offering viewers the stuff of life, this film provides some quality and substance. A coming-of-age film the whole family can watch, Boyhood is unpredictably courageous.
Hearing the Professor Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) tell an audience, “There is no boundary to human endeavor. Where there is life, there is hope,” gives viewers an almost claustrophobic experience. The audience is left wondering if they are on a journey where this dynamic will repeat itself. Fortunately, it does not.
Benoit Delhomme brings some dazzle to the film, making it a cinematically enjoyable experience that makes it very easy to watch. Johann Johannsson offers his compositional skills with a piano-rich score that floats between science and music.
A comedy, starring Mr. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), about a luxury hotel concierge who is framed for murder. He’s a playboy who takes care of his female guests in more ways than one. Nevermind that many of them are elderly women! Gustave takes bellboy, Zero (Tony Revolori), under his wing and they develop a bond.
Things take a turn when one of the female guests dies and leaves a valuable painting to Gustave in her will. He is later imprisoned. However, Zero helps him escape and the chase is on in this light-hearted British/German co-production.
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a young drummer student at the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory in New York. Neiman tries his best to impress his teacher, Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), but Fletcher becomes abusive. Neiman struggles between the devotion he feels is needed to succeed, the nasty and maniacal treatment he is forced to endure from Fletcher and the relationships outside of the Conservatory that he sacrifices.