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.

Here’s What Won At The Oscars Last Night!


Really?

Really?

Because of bad weather, I wasn’t able to post the winners last night.  But, now it’s morning and all of the rain has turned to ice and the internet is working again!

So, here’s what won at the Oscars last night.

Best Picture: Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Best Actress: Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman or What We Talk About When Talk About Love

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game

Best Animated Feature: Big Hero 6

Best Documentary Feature: CitizenFour

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Cinematography: Birdman based on the novel Push by Sapphire 

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Editing: Whiplash

Beat Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper

Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar

Best Animated Short: Feast

Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call

Best Documentary Short Film: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Here Are The Oscar Nominations!


Oscar1

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning and, judging from the overdramatic reactions on twitter, some people are apparently taking all of this way too seriously.  Listen, I wish The LEGO Movie had been nominated.  I wish Jake Gyllenhaal had been nominated.  I haven’t seen Selma yet but it does seem strange that it was only nominated for one other Oscar.  And, for that matter, how did Foxcatcher get nominated for director, screenplay, actor, and supporting actor without getting a nomination for best picture.

And yes, I do wish that more women had been nominated but, then again, I also wish that more women were being given the opportunity to write and direct films.  If the Oscars are male-dominated, that’s because so is the industry.

AND WHERE’S GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY!?

AND WHAT ABOUT JODOROWSKY’S DUNE!?

*ahem*

But, honestly, I think people are overestimating the importance of the Oscars.  Great films will survive, regardless of awards won and lost.  Believe me, there were a lot of nominations that I did not agree with but I’m not going to have a Sasha Stone-style freak out over it because, ultimately, the Oscars are what they are and if you think they’re anything more than an event, you really need to calm down and get some perspective.

I’m just happy that it was a good morning for Texas filmmaking.  Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson were both nominated for best director.  Boyhood, a Texas film if there ever was on, is the front runner for best picture.  Texas actor Ethan Hawke was nominated for best supporting actor.  Bradley Cooper may not be a Texan but he played one and, judging from the trailer and commercials for American Sniper, he actually got the accent right.

So, I’m happy!

(And, by the way, let’s give this talk about how Laura Dern stole Jessica Chastain’s nomination a rest.  If anything, Meryl Streep stole Chastain’s spot.)

Here are the nominees!

BEST PICTURE
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST DIRECTOR
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

BEST ACTOR
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Nightcrawler”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“American Sniper”
“The Imitation Game”
“Inherent Vice”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
“Birdman”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Ida”
“Mr. Turner”
“Unbroken”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inherent Vice”
“Into the Woods”
“Maleficent”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Whiplash”

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Into the Woods”
“Mr. Turner”

BEST SCORE
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Mr. Turner”
“The Theory of Everything”

BEST SONG
“Everything Is Awesome from “The Lego Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“I’m Not Going to Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”

BEST SOUND EDITING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

BEST SOUND MIXING
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Citizenfour”
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”
“Virunga”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Ida”
“Leviathan”
“Tangerines”
“Timbuktu”
“Wild Tales”

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”

Here They Are! Lisa’s Final 2014 Oscar Predictions!


Hey!  It's the picture from Boyhood that we've used a few dozen times over the past two months!

Hey! It’s that picture from Boyhood that we’ve used a few dozen times since November!

Well, it’s been a long and tortured road since I first started this monthly series of Oscar predictions way back in March.  Some contenders have faded.  Some have come out of nowhere.  And some — like Boyhood and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash — have remained consistently strong for the entire year.

Here are my final 2014 Oscar predictions.  The actual Oscar predictions will be announced on Thursday.

(You can check out my predictions of March, April, May, June, July, AugustOctober, November, and December by clicking on the links in this sentence!)

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Nightcrawler

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

(Where’s David Oyelowo?  Originally, I did list him but I don’t know.  With the guild awards, it seems like Selma is losing momentum and American Sniper is gaining it.  I know that a lot of watchers are saying this is due to the Selma screeners being sent out late and that could well be true.  Hopefully, I’ll get to see both Selma and American Sniper this weekend but, until then, I can’t offer an opinion on whether either one deserves to be nominated.  But it’s hard not to feel as if Selma is not shaping up to be quite the Oscar powerhouse that a lot of us were expecting it to be.  We’ll see.)

Best Actress

Jennifer Aniston in Cake

Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall in The Judge

Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

Edward Norton in Birdman

Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

(I still have a hard time believe that Robert Duvall is going to be nominated for The Judge because Duvall was good but not great and the movie kind of sucked.  But, honestly, who else are they going to nominate?  Josh Brolin deserves the spot for Inherent Vice but the film is probably a little bit too odd for a lot of voters.  Maybe if Unbroken‘s Miyavi or Gone Girl‘s Tyler Perry had a little more screen time, they could make a case.  But ultimately, that fifth spot does seem to be Duvall’s.)

Best Supporting Actress

Patrica Arquette in Boyhood

Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year

Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game

Emma Stone in Birdman

Naomi Watts in St. Vincent

(I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Watts over Meryl Streep.  Why not?  There always seems to be at least one surprise acting nominee.)

Best Director

Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Clint Eastwood for American Sniper

Alejandro G. Inarritu for Birdman

Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

So there they are!  My final “for real” predictions.  Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my annual “If Lisa Had All The Power” post, which will be my personal nominations, the films and performances that I would nominate if I had all the power.  And then, on Thursday, the Oscar nominations will be announced!

Need to kill some time?  Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

Need to kill some time? Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

Here Are the Gay and Lesbian Critic Association Nominees!


Here are the nominees for the GALECA Dorian Awards!

Film of the Year
Birdman – Fox Searchlight
Boyhood – Sundance Selects/IFC
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Pride – CBS Films

Film Performance of the Year – Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher – Sony Pictures Classics
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler – Open Road
Michael Keaton, Birdman – Fox Searchlight
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything – Universal

Film Performance of the Year – Actress
Essie Davis, The Babadook – Sundance Selects/IFC
Anne Dorval, Mommy – Roadside Attractions
Julianne Moore, Still Alice – Sony Pictures Classics
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl – 20th Century Fox
Reese Witherspoon, Wild – Fox Searchlight

Film Director of the Year
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
Ava DuVernay, Selma – Paramount
David Fincher, Gone Girl – 20th Century Fox
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman – Fox Searchight
Richard Linklater, Boyhood – Sundance Selects/IFC

LGBTQ Film of the Year
The Imitation Game – The Weinstein Company
Love is Strange – Sony Pictures Classics
Pride – CBS Films
Stranger by the Lake – Strand Releasing
The Way He Looks – Strand Releasing

Foreign Language Film of the Year
Force Majeure – Magnolia Pictures
Ida – Music Box Films
Mommy – Roadside Attractions
Stranger by the Lake – Strand Releasing
Two Days, One Night – Sundance Selects/IFC

Unsung Film of the Year
Obvious Child – A24
Love is Strange – Sony Pictures Classics
Pride – CBS Films
The Skeleton Twins – Roadside Attractions
Snowpiercer – Radius/TWC

Documentary of the Year
(theatrical release, TV airing or DVD release)
The Case Against 8 – HBO
CitizenFour – Radius/TWC
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – Sundance Selects
Life Itself – Magnolia Pictures
Regarding Susan Sontag – HBO

Visually Striking Film of the Year
(honoring a production of stunning beauty, from art direction to cinematography)
Birdman – Fox Searchlight
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Fox Searchlight
Interstellar – Paramount
Snowpiercer – Radius/TWC
Under the Skin – A24

Campy Flick of the Year
Annie
Gone Girl
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Tammy

Here are the DGA Nominations!


The DGA nominations were announced today and the big news will probably be that Ava Duvernay was not nominated for Selma.  Though I’m sure that Sasha Stone will claim this is because the Tea Party has somehow taken over Hollywood, others are suggesting that it could be that the majority of the DGA members did not receive a screener for Selma.

(I haven’t seen Selma yet so I can’t say anything about whether it deserves to be nominated or not.  I have to admit that it worries me to see how stridently the people at Awards Daily are pushing it because I have a theory that the editor of that site promotes films that she knows won’t be nominated so she’ll have an excuse to be all holier-than-thou as a result.  Case in point: the site’s  fanatic insistence that David Fincher’s offensively sexist rehash of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was best picture-worthy,  which needless to say is an interesting position for someone who claims to be a feminist to take.)

Anyway, here are the directors who were nominated:

Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Clint Eastwood for American Sniper

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman

Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Eastwood

 

 

Here’s The Latest In Precursor News: The USC Scripter and the Makeup and Hairstyling Guild Nominations!


Nightcrawler

Awards season continues!  The Makeup and Hairstyling Guild announced their nominees for the best of 2014 today!

FEATURE LENGTH MOTION PICTURE (FEATURE FILMS)
BEST CONTEMPORARY MAKE-UP

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

Nightcrawler

FEATURE LENGTH MOTION PICTURE (FEATURE FILMS)
BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER MAKE-UP

Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Into the Woods

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Theory of Everything

Unbroken

FEATURE LENGTH MOTION PICTURE (FEATURE FILMS)
BEST SPECIAL MAKE-UP EFFECTS

Foxcatcher

Guardians of the Galaxy

Into the Woods

Maleficent

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

FEATURE LENGTH MOTION PICTURE (FEATURE FILMS)
BEST CONTEMPORARY HAIR STYLING

Birdman

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

St. Vincent

Winter’s Tale

FEATURE LENGTH MOTION PICTURE (FEATURE FILMS)
BEST PERIOD AND/OR CHARACTER HAIR STYLING

Get on Up

Into the Woods

Selma

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Theory of Everything

theory-of-everything-new

And here are the nominees for the 27th Annual USC Scripter Awards!  The Scripter Award specifically recognizes screenplays that were adapted from other works.

Gone Girl

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Wild

Tyler Perry in Gone Girl