Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: The Imitation Game (dir by Morten Tyldum)


The 2014 film, The Imitation Game, takes place in three very different time periods.

The majority of the film takes place during World War II.  While the Germans are ruthlessly rolling across and conquering huge swaths of Europe, the British are desperately trying to, at the very least, slow them down.  A key to that is decrypting the secret codes that the German forces use to communicate with each other.  Since the Germans change the code every day, the British not only have to break the code but also predict what the next day’s code will be.

Working out of a 19th century mansion called Bletchley Park, a small group of mathematicians, chess players, and spies work to design a machine that will be able to decode the German messages.  Heading up this group is a man named Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Alan is a remote and, at times, rather abrasive figure, a man who appears to be more comfortable dealing with equations than with other human beings.  The people working under him occasionally chafe at Alan’s lack of social skills.  Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) suspects that Alan’s a Russian spy and would just as soon close down the entire operation.  At first, the only person who seems to have any faith in Alan’s abilities appears to be Winston Churchill himself.

It’s only when Joan Clarke (Kiera Knightley) joins Alan’s team that they start to make progress.  Joan brings Alan out of his shell and teaches him how to deal with other human beings.  When Joan’s parents object to her being away from home, Alan even offers to marry her.  Of course, Alan also explains that it would just be a marriage of convenience, one that will last until they get Christopher up and working.

Christopher is the name that Alan has given to his encryption machine.  Why Christopher?  Throughout the film, we get flashbacks to Alan’s time in boarding school and his close friendship to another student, a boy named Christopher.

And finally, serving as a framing device to both the World War II intrigue and Alan’s relationship with Christopher, is a scene that’s set in 1951.  Alan’s home has been broken into and, as the police investigate the matter, they come to realize that Alan is hiding something about both his past and his present.  Their initial assumption is that Alan must be a communist spy.  The truth, however, is that Alan is gay.  And, in 1951 Britain, that is a criminal offense….

The Imitation Game is based on a true story.  During World War II, Alan Turing actually was a codebreaker and he did play a pivotal role in creating the machine that broke the German code.  After World War II, Turing was arrested and charged with “gross indecency.”  Given a choice between imprisonment or probation and chemical castration.  Turing selected the latter and committed suicide in 1954.  Alan Turing’s work as a cryptographer is estimated to have saved 14 million lives during World War II but he died a lonely and obscure figure, a victim of legally sanctioned prejudice.

Admittedly, The Imitation Game does take some liberties with history.  For one thing, most of the people who worked with Turing described him as being eccentric but not anti-social.  Though the film pretty much portrays the decoding machine as solely being Turing’s creation, it was actually a group effort.  Perhaps the biggest liberty that the film takes is that the machine was never called Christopher.  Instead, it was called Victory.

That said, The Imitation Game is still a strong and effective film.  Anchored by a brilliant lead performance from Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game is a film that manages to be both inspiring and infuriating at the same time.  It’s impossible not to get caught up in the team’s joy as they realize that they actually can beat the Germans at their own encryption game and, after spending 90 minutes listening to everyone doubt Alan’s abilities, you’re more than ready to see him and his unorthodox methods vindicated.  And yet, because of the film’s framing device, you already know that Alan is not going to get the credit that he deserves for his hard work.  Instead, he’s going to be destroyed by the laws of the very country that he worked so hard to save.  Success and tragedy walk hand-in-hand throughout The Imitation Game and the end result is a very powerful and very sad movie.

I have to admit that it was a bit jarring when the opening credits appeared onscreen and the first words that I read were “The Weinstein Company Presents.”  It’s only been a year and a half since Harvey Weinstein was finally exposed and forced out of power but it’s still easy to forget just how much the Wienstein Company used to dominate every Oscar season.  In many ways, with its historical setting and its cast of up-and-coming Brits, The Imitation Game feels like a typical Weinstein Company Oscar contender.  In this case, The Imitation Game was nominated for a total of 8 Oscars, including Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, Best Supporting Actress for Keira Knightley, Best Director for Morten Tyldum, Best Adapted Screenplay for Graham Moore, and Best Picture.  In the end, only Moore won his category.  In a decision that continues to confound me, the Academy named Birdman the best film of the year.

What If Lisa Had All The Power: 2018 Emmys Edition


Hi, everyone!

I meant to do this a lot earlier in the month but with the combination of the 4th of July and some other things I had to attend to, I didn’t get the chance until now.  In just a few hours, the 2018 Emmy nominations will be announced.  Hopefully, it’ll be a good morning for Twin Peaks!

Anyway, here’s who and what I would nominate in the major Emmy categories if I had all the power.  Please notice that I just said major categories.  There’s like hundreds of different Emmy categories, the majority of which aren’t ever awarded during the prime time awards show.  As much as I’d love to post every single category, it’s late and I’m not sure that you really care who I think should win Outstanding Art Direction For An Informational Program, 30 Minutes Or Shorter.

Anyway, here are my picks.  Obviously, I’ve only nominated films and TV shows that I actually watched during the 2017-2018 season.  For the most part, I also limited myself to the shows and performers that have actually been submitted for Emmy consideration.  You can see a full list of all the submissions here.

Anyway, here are my nominees.  (Winners are in bold.)

Programming

Best Comedy Series

Atlanta,

Barry,

Brooklyn Nine-Nine,

The End of the Fucking World,

GLOW,

New Girl,

Silicon Valley,

Young Sheldon

Best Drama Series

The Americans,

Game of Thrones,

The Crown

Legion,

Ozark,

Stranger Things,

Trust,

Westworld

Outstanding Limited Series

The Alienist,

American Vandal,

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,

Genius: Picasso,

Howard’s End,

Picnic at Hanging Rock,

The Terror,

Twin Peaks: The Return

Outstanding Television Movie

(I cheated with this category.  Jesus Christ Superstar was submitted in the category of Outstanding Variety Special.  I felt it belonged here and since it’s my list, I went with it.)

Cocaine Godmother,

I Am Elizabeth Smart,

Jesus Christ Superstar,

Psych: The Movie,

Sharknado 5,

The Tale,

USS Calllister (Black Mirror)

When Love Kills: The Falacia Blakely Story

Outstanding Reality Competition Program

The Amazing Race,

The Bachelorette,

Big Brother: Celebrity Edition,

Dancing With The Stars,

Hell’s Kitchen,

Project Runway,

Survivor,

World of Dance

 

Performers

Best Actor (Comedy)

Bruce Campbell in Ash Vs. Evil Dead

Donald Glover in Atlanta

Bill Hader in Barry

Pete Holmes in Crashing

Alex Lawther in The End of the Fucking World

Andy Samberg in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Best Actor (Drama)

Jason Bateman in Ozark

Tom Ellis in Lucifer

James Franco in The Deuce

Ed Harris in Westworld

Donald Sutherland in Trust

Jeffrey Wright in Westworld

Best Actor (Limited Series)

Antonio Banderas in Genius: Picasso

Daniel Bruhl in The Alienist

Darren Criss in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Tyler Kitsch in Waco

Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks: The Return

Jimmy Tatro in American Vandal

Best Actor (Movie)

Matthew Broderick in A Christmas Story Live!

Dule Hill in Psych: The Movie

John Legend in Jesus Christ Superstar

Al Pacino in Paterno

Jesse Plemons in USS Callister (Black Mirror)

James Roday in Psych: The Movie

Best Actress (Comedy)

Jessica Barden in The End Of The Fucking World

Melissa Barrera in Vida

Alison Brie in GLOW

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl

Justina Machado in One Day At A Time

Ella Purnell in Sweetbitter

Best Actress (Drama)

Claire Danes in Homeland

Claire Foy in The Crown

Rose McIver in iZombie

Krysten Ritter in Marvel’s Jessica Jones

Keri Russell in The Americans

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld

Best Actress (Limited Series)

Hayley Atwell in Howard’s End

Natalie Dormer in Picnic at Hanging Rock

Jennifer Ferrin Mosiac

Anna Friel in The Girlfriend Experience

Sarah Gadon in Alias Grace

Louisa Krause in The Girlfriend Experience

Best Actress (Movie)

Alana Boden in I Am Elizabeth Smart

Laura Dern in The Tale

Parisa Fitz-Henley in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance

Kelly MacDonald in The Child In Time (Masterpiece Theater)

Maya Rudolph in A Christmas Story Live!

Catherine Zeta-Jones in Cocaine Godmother

Best Supporting Actor (Comedy)

Andre Braugher in Brooklyn Nine Nine

Brian Tyree Henry in Atlanta

Marc Maron in GLOW

Stephen Root in Barry

Henry Winkler in Barry

Zach Woods in Silicon Valley

Best Supporting Actor (Drama)

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones

Noah Emmerich in The Americans

Brendan Fraser in Trust

James Marsden in Westworld

Zahn McClarnon in Westworld

Matt Smith in The Crown

Best Supporting Actor (Limited Series)

Tyler Alvarez in American Vandal

Miguel Ferrer in Twin Peaks: The Return

Robert Forster in Twin Peaks: The Return

Michael Horse in Twin Peaks: The Return

David Lynch in Twin Peaks: The Return

Finn Wittrock in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Best Supporting Actor (Movie)

Corbin Bernsen in Psych: The Movie

Brandon Victor Dixon in Jesus Christ Superstar

Aldis Hodge in Black Museum (Black Mirror)

Jason Ritter in The Tale

Jimmi Simpson in USS Callister (Black Mirror)

Skeet Ulrich in I Am Elizabeth Smart

Best Supporting Actress (Comedy)

Stephanie Beartriz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Suzanne Cryer in Silicon Valley

Sarah Goldberg in Barry

Rita Moreno in One Day At A Time

Zoe Perry in Young Sheldon

Hannah Simone in New Girl

Best Supporting Actress (Drama)

Summer Bishil in The Magicians

Lena Headey in Game of Thrones

Margo Martindale in The Americans

Thandie Newton in Westworld

Aubrey Plaza in Legion

Tessa Thompson in Westworld

Best Supporting Actress (Limited Series)

Penelope Cruz in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Laura Dern in Twin Peaks: The Return

Dakota Fanning in The Alienist

Judith Light in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Julia Ormond in Howards End

Naomi Watts in Twin Peaks: The Return

Best Supporting Actress (Movie)

Sara Bareilles in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert

Ellen Burstyn in The Tale

Michaela Coel in USS Callister (Black Mirror)

Anna Gasteyer in A Christmas Story Live!

Anjelica Huston in The Watcher In The Woods

Letitia Wright in Black Museum (Black Mirror)

Best Guest Actor (Comedy)

Bill Burr in Crashing

Josh Hamilton in Sweetbitter

Lee Majors in Ash vs. Evil Dead

Wallace Shawn in Young Sheldon

Danny Trejo in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Gerald Webb in Barry

Best Guest Actor (Drama)

Michael C. Hall in The Crown

C. Thomas Howell in Marvel’s The Punisher

Matthew Modine in Stranger Things

Denis O’Hare in American Masters

Jimmi Simpson in Westworld

Jonathan Tucker in Westworld

Best Guest Actress (Comedy)

Gail Bean in Atlanta

Rashida Jones in Portlandia

Nasim Pedrad in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Sheridan Piece in One Day At A Time

Elizabeth Perkins in GLOW

Wrenn Schmidt in Sweetbitter

Best Guest Actress (Drama)

Jodi Balfour in The Crown

Donatella Finocchiaro in Trust

Marlee Matlin in The Magicians

Lily Rabe in Legion 

Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones

Mageina Tovah in The Magicians