If, as expected, Boyhood wins Best Motion Picture of the Year at the Oscars later this month it will be at the expense of better films.
It’s a low budget, ‘indie’ movie and has a strong feeling of the pet project about it, yet it’s risen to astonishing heights since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last year.
And in an Oscar year where perhaps more than ever before the best movie nominations are dominated by arthouse films – Birdman, Whiplash, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything must all fall into that category – it’s the one that’s picking up the big prizes. (Golden Globes and BAFTAs are already in the bag.) But Birdman, Whiplash and Grand Budapest Hotel are all, for my money, vastly superior creations.
If you haven’t seen it, and that’s entirely possible because it came and went in the blink of an eye – not troubling the schedulers in your local multiplex, it’s a truly original piece of filmmaking. Shot over 12 years it tracks the growing up of five-year old Texan boy, Mason, right through to his High School graduation. Along the way his mother (played brilliantly and actually the real grit at the heart of this movie) by Patricia Arquette works her way through a series of unfortunate relationships and marriages. With a minimum of fuss the movie shows the whole family (Mason’s estranged father, Ethan Hawke, his mother and sister) visibly age on screen as they traverse all that life throws at them.
But the truth is it has divided its audience with many suggesting it’s actually just plain boring; lacking, as it does, any conventional sense of plot. I wouldn’t personally go that far as I found it absorbing, only outstaying its welcome inn the final reel, but it’s just not as good as its reputation.
Sure, it’s impossible to argue with the sheer ambition of making a movie over 12 years but once you’re into it it’s not THAT incredible. Mason, for a start is not developed as a character greatly and the only real ‘performances’ as such are from Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke who, to be fair, are both excellent.
But if I were giving out the Oscars I’m not sure this would even make the shortlist. For me it would be a straight shoot out between Birdman and Whiplash with Birdman just edging it for its sheer originality.