When thinking of the best film of 2014, a lot of frontrunners come to mind. “Birdman”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Boyhood” seemed to be the top contender for this year’s Academy Awards. “Birdman” had the love of Hollywood that the Academy often goes for, “Boyhood” had the sheer enormity of a project that can’t be ignored and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” had splendor and meticulous detail not seen by any other Best Picture nominee. But while these films received loads of attention from both Academy members and the media, I felt another film nominated for Best Picture blew them all out of the water — “Whiplash”.
Never have I experienced a more pulse-pounding thrill ride of a movie than “Whiplash”.
From the first scene to the last, the film will leave you enthralled more so than any other Best Picture nominee. The sheer energy that it brings to the screen heightens the level and experience of the film that is unmatched by any other nominee.
The film — directed and written by Damien Chazelle — follows the main character Andrew (Miles Teller) and his teacher Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) as they both work in tandem to fulfill Andrew’s dream of becoming one of the greatest drummers of his time. Fletcher will stop at nothing to ensure that Andrew realizes his goal, even if his methods may verge on psychotic.
It is this central relationship that gives the film so much energy where the other nominees lack, the Fletcher-Andrew dynamic is so agonizing and compelling that you simply cannot look away.
You want to see what happens to Andrew. You want to see if Fletcher ever realizes his methods are over the top and you want to see the two of them go back and forth working together and against each other throughout the film.
Perhaps the cornerstone of the film is Simmons’ performance as Fletcher. Before this film, I knew Simmons as two things: the dad from “Juno”, and that crazy newspaper dude in the “Spiderman” movies. From those two roles I never really considered him a contender for nabbing an Academy Award, but after seeing “Whiplash”, I can say with confidence that he’s proven himself to be an incredibly talented character actor. He inhabits the role of Fletcher so well and with so much energy that it’s so enthralling and so captivating, on a level that none of the other Best Supporting Actor nominees even came close to reaching this year. And combine this high energy performance with the journey of Andrew from being a lowly drummer with little confidence to a high powered performer, and it becomes a hugely entertaining film. Simmons’ strong performance helped bring the film to life.
No other film has such an energetic central relationship, and the film uses the strength of this relationship to build an impressive feature presentation that has everything.
The cinematography and shots are beautiful and the lighting and shadows in many scenes create visuals that haunt the screen. The score is phenomenal, and the acting is top-notch.
This film is worth your time and money because no other film has a dynamic quite like that of Andrew and Fletcher’s. Enjoy the world that is built around this. It’s a riveting thrill ride that’ll leave you breathless and has a kind of energy no other best picture nominee captured.