Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BOYHOOD - 6 nominations

Best Picture - Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
Supporting Actor - Ethan Hawke
Supporting Actress - Patricia Arquette
Director - Richard Linklater
Film Editing - Sandra Adair
Original Screenplay - Richard Linklater

Boyhood is the simple story of a single mom and her two kids, their not quite a boy not quite a man father, and the ways that adult choices affect the growth of their children.  As everyone who's heard of the film knows by now, it was filmed over a period of 12 years with the same actors for one week a year, so we see the characters grow as people and we see them age, as well.  This is most pronounced for the two children who we meet when they are very young, and we watch them grow year by year.

The story isn't really one we haven't seen before, and I think that if this were any other movie without this unique approach to aging, we would call it a nice, vanilla story that is sweet and universal.  Some women make very poor choices in picking partners.  Some dads are unreliable but extremely loving. Kids go through stuff as they age and find their voices and their passions.  They become adults who leave their parents behind.

The aging is the heart of this film's acclaim.  The reason that we feel so connected is the same reason we marvel when a friend's child is about to learn to drive, go to college, get married - we watched that child grow up.  The same is true for this film, we literally watch the characters grow up, and the truth is, without that element of the film, this movie would not be an Oscar contender and it would just be a nice film about Richard Linklater's childhood.  It's a different movie entirely because of the novel approach, which is why I do recommend seeing it.  It feels like a more authentic story because of the maturation process, and that also makes the parents' journeys more real to us.  

That's why Boyhood deserves a nomination for Best Picture, but not Original Screenplay.  Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are very good in the film, but not necessarily what I would call Oscar good (she had a juicier part, so maybe she more than he has a justified nomination, though they were both great in their parts).  Richard Linklater as the Director with the vision for this whole project is most deserving of recognition, and I believe that this may have an impact on future films in Hollywood.

I, too, am approaching a time when my oldest son will be off to college, so I'm not ashamed to admit that I sobbed like a little baby when Patricia Arquette struggled with this same life transition.  So that's where I land on Boyhood - authentic, representative of real life experiences, characters that you know.  But Oscar worthy?  The answer is 4 weeks in the making.

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