Monday, August 3, 2015

The Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures

Oscar night is five months gone. "Birdman" was the Academy's pick for "Best Picture." I couldn't say at the time that it would be my pick for "best" movie of 2014 because I hadn't seen it yet. I hadn't seen most of the nominees at that time. Well, now that it's summer, I can finally say I've seen all of the Oscar nominees for "Best Picture" of 2014 and I can pick a winner. Can I get a drum roll?

The envelope please. The winner of the Wheel Award for Excellence in Motion Pictures goes to...

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+