Zenpolitics is not Mark Kermode or any other variant on the theme of film critic. But tonight is an exception. Watching the BAFTAs – yet again I wasn’t invited – I knew when I found tears in my eyes during a clip of a few seconds’ duration that Eddie Redmayne had to win best actor. I would have felt personally cheated had he not done so.
I have yet to see Boyhood so can’t make comparisons. The very notion of a film so long in the making is heroic, and to give of yourself over so many years is one hell of an achievement. ‘When you make yourself vulnerable you make everyone else vulnerable as well,’ was a comment in one of the acceptance speeches in Richard Linklater’s absence. If they’d all been on their own agendas the movie could never have happened.
Mike Leigh had to be nice, given he was receiving the Lifetime Achievement award. ‘May you rot in hell,’ the fate he wishes in all those who declined to back his movies, was in its own way quite gentle.
‘How lucky we are to have been born into the age of cinema,’ was another Mike Leigh comment. Worth thinking on that one. How lucky we are to have been born at all. And just for today it could have been reading Basil Bunting’s Briggs Flats; a clear cold weather sunset; Venus, an evening star again, in the western sky; highlights of England v Wales rugby; or Man U’s last minute equaliser against West Ham. You make your own luck. Mike Leigh did.
Crass comment, tucked away in a review somewhere – BBC? – was Mark Kermode’s about Whiplash. ‘Rocky on snare drums.’ Whiplash was my third favourite film of the year, compelling, you just hung in there, one hell of a ride, and the drumming and the jazz, the sheer ordinary downhome genius of it all, was something else.
Second best film, Ida, a young Polish novice nun after the Second World War on what might be a voyage of discovery… The most perfect, finely judged movie almost I’ve ever seen. Camera work and settings kept simple, black and white, a bleak Poland where all the emotion lies in the unspoken history and that landscape…
The best film, yes, The Theory of Everything. Redmayne gets as close to being Stephen Hawking as any human either side of the pearly gates could ever do. It’s less about an extraordinary performance from Redmayne, more about his ability to convey an ordinary man, who did and is still doing extraordinary things.