I’m told I shouldn’t read too much into Deadline‘s Pete Hammond having posted last night that many Academy members still haven’t seen Boyhood, which has been called a presumptive Best Picture favorite for months. Hammond wrote the piece for a print version of Awardsline that was due in early December, and the Boyhood DVD had only been mailed a couple of weeks before it was written.
But you have to wonder why people were still dragging their feet a week after Thanksgiving with Boyhood having opened last July and many screenings having occurred over the previous couple of months. The reason seems obvious to me but let’s call it a guess.
Boyhood is the Julianne Moore of Best Picture contenders in that the blogoscenti decided long ago that it fully deserves and therefore needs to be a major contender and that it should/could even win, and since this perfect storm of opinion occurred the Academy and guild members have had it on their “to do” lists but…with…some…degree…of…procrastination. Just like their attitude about Still Alice, which nobody in the world feels even vaguely excited about and yet people are nonetheless sluggishly resigned to Moore being the big Best Actress lockdown.
Is it because Boyhood feels to some like a low-energy, not-quite-dynamic thing because of the indie vibe, the domestic family atmosphere, the episodic nature of this sprawling 12-year tale, the three-hour length and the absence of big marquee names? Some combination of these, I’m sure. Everybody “knows” — i.e., accepts — it’s a really good film and absolutely required viewing, but it feels soft at the same time.
A Boyhood Best Picture win is not an ideal HE scenario — I’m a Birdman guy — but it wouldn’t feel tragic at all if it wins. It would actually be kind of cool. But it seems odd that Academy members were telling Hammond three weeks ago that they still haven’t seen it yet. Well, not so odd, I guess — typical Academy laziness and dereliction of duty. Last year a lot of them didn’t see 12 Years A Slave because they didn’t want to endure the terrible cruelty and beatings, and this year they’re sluggish about seeing Boyhood because…uhm, well, they haven’t gotten around to it.
A friend who long ago told me to regard the Boyhood buzz with a grain of salt says the following:
“YOU DON’T LISTEN!!!
“Boyhood is a critics’ film. The Imitation Game is an Academy film.
“You said TIG reminded you of a Richard Attenborough film (I vehemently disagree, but that’s another topic). Remind me again, Jeff…who makes up the Academy (at least according to the LA Times)? Oh, right. A bunch of Richard Attenboroughs with American accents. So no surprise that film is in their wheelhouse. Plus it’s an excellent film to boot).
“That said, Boyhood‘s Richard Linklater could well take home a prize come Oscar night…Screenplay or Director. I have a feeling IG’s Morten Tyldum could get the Bruce Beresford treatment (which would be very unfair). Best Director category is a crowded field like Best Actor. Not enough room at the inn. Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, Grand Budapest Hotel and the 5th candidate. Will the Director’s branch pull another Benh Zeitlin with Damien Chazelle? Or go with Fincher?
“If that’s the case, Linklater could get the nod, his consolation prize and an acknowledgement that he did a very audacious thing making a film over 12 years.”