Oscars!: The Imitation Game

Movie: The Imitation Game
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actress (Kiera Knightly), Directing, Editing, Original Score, Production Design, and Best Adapted Screenplay

The Imitation Game is a movie about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), largely during the war years when he was trying to build a machine to crack Enigma, but also going back to his childhood and forward to his eventual branding as a criminal (due to his homosexuality) and associated suicide at the age of 41.

The worst thing about Benedict Cumberbatch is how overused he's becoming in geek properties. The best thing is just how damn good an actor he is, as evidenced in this film. This is not to say that the rest of the cast weren't good -- they were, and I enjoyed Kiera Knightly as his primary foil and idea generator -- but honestly this was his vehicle and he plays it wonderfully. Well directed, well acted, well written... I really enjoyed it. It didn't give us Turing as a clearly gay man, as it didn't focus on his final relationship at all (we never meet his eventual lover who gets him caught, or learn the secret behind the burglary at his house). We never see him in a sexual way at all. What we do see is his emotional connections -- we learn about his first love, Christopher, and see that connected to his later work, as well as seeing his friendship with Joan and his efforts to work with others. The surprising thing, though, is that at the end, the final text to appear on screen focuses almost entirely on his end, the plight of homosexual men and women in England, and how he was eventually pardoned.

The strange thing about this is... I really went through this movie thinking how great a focus it had on his social disabilities, not his orientation. It seemed at odds with the movie that came before, wherein Turing's relationships at Bletchley and before form the core of the film and the biggest challenges to be overcome.

I enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed Cumberbatch's performance. But that being said... I'm not sure why it's nominated for Best Picture. It's very good, don't misunderstand me, and I encourage you to see it if you haven't... but I think in the end it seemed very much a normal very good if slightly uneven film, and I can't quite determine why it was invited as a guest of honor to the party, if that makes sense. I don't know. We'll see.

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