Clenching the Nomination - The Theory of Everything - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Clenching the Nomination – The Theory of Everything

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Andrew discusses the scene in James Marsh's The Theory of Everything that he thinks secured the film's Best Picture nomination. You can check out all of our overall guesses on the major Oscar categories for 2015 here.

Theory of EverythingFor those of you with good memories and check the site frequently, you'll know I did not like The Theory of Everything.  It was one of the safest biopics imaginable, content with watching the shallow surface of the much-vaunted relationship between Dr. Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his old love Jane (Felicity Jones).  There's no escaping the artifice of cinema but The Theory of Everything felt phonier than most, partly due to its sparklingly consistent cinematography and the lack of devolution in the central relationship leading to the late-film emotions.

The one scene which earned its Best Picture nomination is prominently featured in almost all the trailers for the film.  Dr. Hawking, who at first seems to be a charmingly befuddled intelligent man in the Hugh Grant vein, is actually mawkish because he suffers from a rare case of ALS.  The stumbling and slightly slurred speech earlier in the film are just the beginning effects of the disease.  The realization of how he is losing his body comes crashing down when he sits alone in a bathtub, harshly lit from above so we can watch the steam rise from the tub.  The camera switches to a low and tight close-up of Dr. Hawking's right hand and how, no matter what effort he puts in, he cannot will it to move as he wishes.

The Theory of Everything was constructed from the ground up to give Redmayne a shot at the Best Actor Oscar.  The promotional campaign,the timeline which allows us to get to know Redmayne's charming Dr. Hawking before taking him away, and the glistening look of the production give his transformation and look and grandeur that keep the focus on just how acting he's doing (or, in this case, isn't).  This isn't new bait for the Academy but it took it anyway, and Redmayne's nomination for Best Actor gave the team enough momentum to secure initial votes for Best Picture and Best Actress for Jones.

Sometimes films generate enough momentum based on one reportedly great aspect of their production that the rest of the movie can pick up awards momentum as well.  I'm not going to pretend that The Theory of Everything is going to win Best Picture, but you've got to remember that the demographics of the Academy voting bloc may surprise us.  At last check, the Academy voters are 94% white, 76% men, and average 63 years old.  Do you think, with a demographic like that, they'd find something inspiring not only in Redmayne's performance of, but the entire film based on, a white and highly intellectual man of privilege with a degenerative disease and a love he must fight to keep through the ages while he accomplishes works of brilliance?

Again, Oscar catnip.  Hopefully they fell asleep from the high before getting to the voting booth and shook off the lingering effects of the catnip before locking their choices.  Redmayne's performance is nothing special, the movie filled with empty glitter, and Jones' nomination one of the most inexplicable aspects of the whole affair.  But if they're still reeling from watching that privileged white man overcome adversity then we may have a trio of odd winners, including Best Picture, on Sunday night.

Posted by Andrew

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