By Matthew Gundrum —
“American Sniper”: the movie that’s got everyone talking. Politics aside, this truly is a great film. Bradley Cooper puts on a riveting performance with his adaptation of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who is referred to as the most deadly sniper in American history with 160 confirmed kills. The cinematography puts the viewer in his position as he makes split-second decisions on the fate of his targets, making for an incredibly tense film.
“Birdman” is the most unique entry in this year’s nominations. With its dizzying “single-take” editing style, “Birdman” takes a dark perspective on the life of actor Riggan Thomson as he struggles to come to terms with his declining relevancy. Thomson goes through life attempting to get his play off the ground on Broadway while haunted by Birdman–his alter ego and a representation of his once-successful career. The film boasts a star-studded cast (Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Michael Keaton) with each respective actor putting on their A-game.
“Boyhood” is a film like no other. This emotional tour de force, spanning over 12 years with the same actors, is equal parts funny, charming and heartbreaking. The story follows young Mason from childhood into his collegiate years. Viewers may find that a bond is quickly formed with Mason and his family as they physically age and mentally grow throughout. Chocked full of stark realism, this coming-of-age story is sure to be a major player in this year’s awards.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson has once again returned to the silver screen. “Grand Budapest Hotel” is his first film since 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and it is certainly Anderson-esque: eccentric, cinematographically gorgeous and undeniably witty. The story is told through the lens of a former bellhop within the majestic Grand Budapest Hotel in a fictional, European-inspired universe. Ralph Fiennes (famously known for his role as Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter) is the star of the show here with one of the most hysterical performances seen in cinema for years.
The Imitation Game
A smart World War II biographical drama about mathematician Alan Turing, who is tasked with breaking the impenetrable German “enigma code.” The code is the essence of all German intelligence but is heavily encrypted. Turing and his colleagues fight through time and turmoil to crack the code before it is too late. Benedict Cumberbatch is the star here with his sharp-witted portrayal of Turing.
It is no question: Martin Luther King Jr. was the most prolific character in the civil rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s. An individual of such scope has been honored by this year’s “Selma.” The film focuses primarily on the three-month period in 1965 when a major campaign was being led to acquire equal voting rights. David Oyelowo aptly captures the fiery charisma that King was famous for, and Ava DuVernay directs what is surely a powerful historical drama.
The Theory of Everything
A world-renowned physicist is perfectly encapsulated by up-and-coming English actor Eddie Redmayne. The film primarily revolves around the adult life of Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane as they struggle through the onset of Hawking’s rare and debilitating form of ALS. Expect to see Redmayne’s career take off after this stellar performance.
Often times the Oscars are riddled with a predictable grab bag of historical biopics and hyper-poignant dramas. Whiplash, however, takes a refreshing break from the aforementioned genres. This one’s all about the music. Aspiring jazz drummer Andrew Niemann will stop at nothing to secure his place among the greats. His thirst for drumming perfection is fostered by an equally celebrated and feared instructor named Terence Fletcher who will do whatever it takes help Niemann reach his dream.