A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: A boy grows up in Texas alongside his older sister and single mother, navigating childhood, adolescence and young adulthood as well as his own divorced parents’ changing relationships.
Total nominations: 6 (picture, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, film editing, original screenplay)
Directed by: Richard Linklater (nominated for best director; fifth nomination)
Starring: Ethan Hawke (nominated for supporting actor; fourth nomination), Patricia Arquette (nominated for supporting actress; first nomination), Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater
Why it deserves to win: Linklater filmed “Boyhood” over the course of 12 years, shaping a fictional narrative around the real-life coming-of-age of his star, the non-professional Coltrane. The resulting film immerses the audience in a story that’s simultaneously intimate and epic, every-day and profound, as Coltrane’s character grows from child to young man in the miraculously seamless span of just over two hours. As emotionally stirring as it is ambitious, “Boyhood” epitomizes the kind of film that Academy members like to reward, if only to remind themselves of what the medium can still achieve.
Why it won’t win: Critics fell hard for “Boyhood” when it opened last summer, and strong reviews helped make it an early Oscar front-runner. But not all viewers have been as charmed by its naturalistic rhythms and temperament, and it’s likely that Academy voters will be just as divided. Factor in recent guild awards raked in by “Birdman,” as well as such potential spoilers as “American Sniper” and “Whiplash,” and “Boyhood” might wind up losing its once assured first-place status.
Ann Hornaday’s review: 4 stars
“‘Boyhood’ breaks open a brand new genre: a fictional drama contoured and shaped by reality; a lightly scripted ensemble piece executed by both professional and non-professional actors; an experiment in time, narrative and cinematic practice that utterly transforms the boundaries of what film can look like and feel like and achieve.”
Box office as of Feb. 17: $25.2 million domestic, $44.3 million worldwide