Oscars!: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music, Production Design, Original Screenplay

Sorry I've fallen behind on these posts -- it's been a busy week. That said, let's get back to it, shall we?

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a Wes Anderson film -- arguably his crowning achievement in film, frankly, as seen by the nominations listed above. I don't mean to short any of the actors -- Ralph Fiennes as Mr. Gustave was frankly wonderful, and everyone did their caricatured, scene-stealing best. That said, Anderson's preferences for expressionless faces and scenes like still life paintings (because they're too improbable to be photographs) forcibly pulls the attention away from the performances and into the film as a whole. In this case that works, because the story and the setting and everything else are really captivating.

I am not a huge Wes Anderson fan, to be frank. I find his films often too artificial, too unpleasantly snide. This film, however, has none of that. It's a love story -- and not just between characters, although there is love there, but for a whole beautiful world, tinged with the narrativized romance of memory, that vanished from the face of the earth. There are political and philosophical and personal threads all interwoven in a way that Moonrise Kingdom, for example, never came close to realizing, and that elevates this layered film, moving in and out of time and fiction and memory in ways that justify every symmetrical positioning, every mote of Andersonian artificiality, and turns it into something rather wonderful.

I don't know that it's going to get Best Picture, but for sheer skill and artistry and technical "this is what film is" wowza, it's worthy. It and Birdman have a great deal in common in the sheer wizardry behind them -- both directors understand what the medium is capable of and are willing to push its limits in order to exploit those possibilities. I would honestly be fine with it sweeping the technical awards, because the longer I sit with it, the more I appreciate it. It really is a wonderful film.


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