There’s an apparent presumption out there that when push comes to shove, the leading Oscar Discriminators (i.e., blogging mafia, SAG members, Academy rank-and-file) are going to maintain that you can assign Best Picture heat to only one World War II movie during the 2014 award season, and that means you’ll have to choose between Angelina Jolie‘s Unbroken, David Ayer and Brad Pitt‘s Fury and Morten Tyldum‘s The Imitation Game. The Brad-vs.-Angie angle = Tyldum will have to struggle just to stay in the conversation. It also means that Angie’s film will be seen as the alpha-minded WWII movie with heart (he survived! life didn’t break him! let that be an inspiration to all!), Ayer and Pitt’s will be the opposite end of that spectrum (the war in Europe was a lot more savage than anything Samuel Fuller dared to show) and Tyldum’s will be the seen as half brain-teasey and half tut-tutting (i.e., why prosecute a decoding genius who shortened the war just because he’s gay?). Look, calm down…okay? Get hold of yourselves. It’s August, for God’s sake.
I’m down with the Brad-vs.-Angie meme as far as it goes but the “only one World War II Movie can be a serious contender” notion is lame. Subject matter is the least interesting aspect of a good or noteworthy film. Subject matter is simply the starting point. It’s the journey that matters. That and the way the light falls upon the characters during magic hour.