A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: A fussy hotel concierge and his loyal lobby-boy protege embark on a series of misadventures in this fanciful fantasia set in the fictional Mittel-European state of Zubrowka.
Total nominations: 9 (picture, director, original screenplay, cinematography, editing, production design, costume design, makeup, original score)
Directed by: Wes Anderson (nominated for best director and original screenplay; sixth nomination)
Starring: Ralph Fiennes (two previous nominations), Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham (previous best actor winner), Adrien Brody (previous best actor winner), Saoirse Ronan (one previous nomination)
Why it deserves to win: Wes Anderson’s film teems with delights, including his regular — and highly reliable — stable of stars; visual style out the wazoo; and a wildly entertaining narrative centering on a missing painting. It provides pure moviegoing pleasure, which is something of an anomaly in a field characterized by various forms of cinematic angst. (Even “Boyhood” is about the the minefield of adolescence.)
Why it won’t win: The lack of narrative nutrition on the menu of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is undeniable. Closer to the empty calories of cotton candy than the high-fiber content of nearly every other best picture nominee this year, the movie lacks the heft normally associated with this category. And the ensemble cast, while anchored by a glib — if somewhat robotic — Ralph Fiennes and newcomer Tony Revolori, suffers from the absence of a single strong central character that the audience can root for.
Ann Hornaday’s review: 3 stars
“As a carefully constructed miniaturized universe, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is that most Andersonian of endeavors, evincing the deadpan drolleries, screwball action and dollhouse aesthetic that have alternately charmed and chagrined filmgoers for the past couple of decades.”
Box office as of Feb. 17: $59.1 million domestic, $174.6 million worldwide