Am I missing something? I’m not sure. I’ll tell you why. I have just seen the three movies that have been talked up and indeed nominated by the Academy for that coveted best movie Oscar: Birdman, Foxcatcher and Whiplash. Three movies with excellent reviews and talk of classic status.
I began with Birdman in which Michael Keaton gives a performance that is worthy of his talents. It is smart, imaginative and absorbing with a shooting style that is unique yet very effective the wings of imagination flap successfully in this enjoyable and vibrant movie.
Then came Foxcathcher, which I will return to, then Whiplash. Whiplash is exhilarating and thoughtful in equal measure and compels us to question the cost ambition and the motivation of those charged with nurturing talent: part Full Metal Jacket part coming of age drama whiplash is a small story painted with a vivid palette.
So back to Foxcatcher, the movie that many critics say boasts career defining performances from Carrell, Tatum and Ruffalo. Heavy prosthetics are used by the three leads and perhaps that’s a major flaw in terms of there ability to emote as this movie that tries to be intense and hypnotic commits the cardinal sin in that it is quite simply…well, dull. It’s tedius and the screen time seems an eternity.
I wanted to like it but just couldn’t and as I left the cinema at the denoument and reflected on the merits of Foxcatcher I found myself wondering, with great wonder it must be said, why Jake Gylenhaal’s performance in Nightcrawler was not acknowledged by the academy with a nomination. Naturally it’s futile to try to quantify what makes one movies better than another but surely the central performance in Nightcrawler exceeds any by the three leads of Foxcatcher?
I understand that maybe it’s Carrell’s moment in the sun as he is a fine versatile actor but for this banal turn, that would be a shame.