The envelope please. The winner of the Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures goes to...
- The Theory of Everything: A soaring mind trapped in a wasting body. Heart-warming and heart-breaking. And real. A-
Congratulations to the runners-up. Here, in order, is my ranking of the rest of the nominees for best picture of 2014. My ranking is based on the grades I gave the movies immediately after viewing them. In case of ties, I ordered them by my considered judgment today.
- Selma: Powerful portrayal of fight for voting rights. Tips towards MLK and against LBJ. Voting rights under threat again today. B+
- The Grand Budapest Hotel: Quirky. Eccentric hotelier, murder, inheritance battle, art theft, fascists. Lots of cameos. Works for me. B-
- American Sniper: Hawkish tale of unreflective man with simple sense of duty and a soul deadened more by war. Selective history. B-
- The Imitation Game: Nazi code. Math. Homophobia. Bio-pic of brilliant but difficult man wronged by society. Same story, new angle. B-
- Boyhood: Clever concept in service of an uncompelling story. Every character is more interesting than the boy. Please, no Oscar. B-
- Whiplash: Young jazz drummer is tyrannized by a domineering teacher. One note drama. No character development. Awful pedagogy. B-
- Birdman: Pretentious. Over-acted. Movie and theater-industry navel-gazing. Oscar mistake. C+