(Check out the list so far)
The Movie: Boyhood (2014)
One Sentence Plot Summary: Mason Evans Jr. experiences boyhood in a nearly three hour opus.
Why It’s on the List: Six years ago, Richard Linklater released a movie he had been working on for 12 years. It’s a shame that Birdman stole a lot of this movie’s thunder at the ensuing Academy Awards because even though this could have been a disastrous experiment, it is an artistic one because we see the life of one boy evolve over 12 years. The director used two very credible actors, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, to play off the younger actors and add their own brand of charisma.
This is a movie I adored when I saw it in theaters, despite the flaws and warts. Getting to see an actor grow before my eyes was special even if the events covered are mundane. Linklater deserves a lot of the credit, as do the young actors. Lorelei Linklater and Ellar Coltrane do not give awards worthy performances, but they should get credit for sticking through the 12 years and allowing audiences to see them grow over the years. It could not have been easy going through this experience, especially those awkward middle years when they’re figuring out their hair and have braces.
This is the kind of movie that is very much my jam because it’s not about plot. There’s no great mystery or revelation laced in the 2 hours and 45 minutes, and for that, I’m grateful. I think what makes Linklater special is different from Scorsese or Tarantino. With Scorsese or Spike Lee, you can identify their work by sight. I can identify their shots pretty well at this point. With Tarantino or Kevin Smith, I know their movies by the sound of the dialogue. It’s so specific and specialized. Then there’s Richard Linklater, who I feel I can identify by feel. This is a very different feeling but it’s one that very unique.
*Lorilei Linklater did not seem to have a fun time with aspects of this movie and was poignant of her father’s line about a girl not liking Kurt Vonnegut.
*Olivia as a white savior? Gross. The scene with Ernesto has actually aged so much worse in the ensuing six years.
*There’s some definite unchallenged homophobia that happens through this movie.
MVP: Richard Linklater does a tremendous job of piecing this film together. I cannot even imagine working on a project over 12 years without even knowing what the endgame is. I’m so curious as to how Linklater saw this movie and how closely the final product represented his original vision. Although this is not a perfect movie, this is still the best movie of 2014 and is an ambitious project for which he should be given credit for. Linklater has four movies on this list. His career is all over the place, and I’m not sure how much he has left in the tank given his age and recent output. However, working on something like this and the Before trilogy alone makes him one of our best contemporary directors.
Best Performance: You would think Ellar Coltrane would be a shoo-in for this award given how much of the movie he’s in and this is told from his POV. However, it’s worth noting Patricia Arquette is the one who won an Academy Award and is the anchor of this movie. She essentially has to play the role of single mom. Even though Ethan Hawke’s Mason Sr. is nominally a parent, Arquette’s Olivia is the one that has to carry the load. Her taste in men certainly isn’t great, but we see her do right by her kids and have a positive effect on numerous other students’ lives as a college professor. Part of me wishes this movie had been Motherhood and the story could have focused on her journey as a parent and working her way through school.
Best Quote: “I finally figured it out. It’s like when they realized it was gonna be too expensive to actually build cyborgs and robots. I mean, the costs of that were impossible. They decided to just let humans turn themselves into robots. That’s what’s going on right now. I mean, why not? They’re billions of us just laying around, not really doing anything. We don’t cost anything. We’re even pretty good at self-maintenance and reproducing constantly. And as it turns out, we’re already biologically programmed for our little cyborg upgrades. I read this thing the other day about how When you hear that ding on your inbox, you get like a dopamine rush in your brain. It’s like we’re being chemically rewarded for allowing ourselves to be brainwashed. How evil is that? We’re fucked.” – Mason
Is there a sequel? No.
Check out Ben & Matt’s podcast review of the movie as part of There Will Be Movies.