A quick look at this year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Picture…
Synopsis: Pioneering computer scientist and mathematician Alan Turing races against the clock to decipher the Nazis’ “unbreakable” Enigma code during World War II.
Total nominations: 8 (picture, director, actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, editing, production design, original score)
Directed by: Morten Tyldum (nominated for best director; first nomination)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch (nominated for best actor; first nomination), Keira Knightley (nominated for best supporting actress; second nomination), Matthew Goode
Why it deserves to win: An exciting fact-based thriller with the gloss of a gay-rights theme, “The Imitation Game” centers on the work of the eccentric Englishman Alan Turing, a closeted gay man who, during World War II, worked with a team of codebreakers to decipher messages from Germany that could change the course of the war. Told in flashback during the 1952 investigation that would reveal Turing’s homosexuality at a time when it was illegal, the film runs, full throttle, on two cylinders. The first is the historical nailbiter; the second is the more modern drama — made more moving by the perspective of today — about Turing’s persecution for his private life. Together, they make for a tale that is both powerful and poignant.
Why it won’t win: Like the onscreen Turing himself — who in Cumberbatch’s portrayal comes across as something of a biting, if brilliant freak — “The Imitation Game” is easier to admire than to love. The acting, writing and directing is irreproachable, but there’s something missing at its core. Despite effective, informative moviemaking (even for those who think they know Turing’s story well), the moviemakers bring more brains than heart to this “Game.”
Ann Hornaday’s review: 3 stars
“Summoning all the Sherlockian eccentricity and superciliousness he can muster, Benedict Cumberbatch once again proves the go-to man for bringing vulnerability and warmth to a chilly, slightly off-putting intellectual oddball in ‘The Imitation Game,’ a handsome, if gently smoothed-over portrait of World War II cryptanalyst Alan Turing.”
Box office as of Feb. 17: $80.2 million domestic, $157.1 million worldwide