I have heard of plenty of negative reviews about The Theory of Everything, so I came in prepared. The good news is, I think it’s a fine film. The bad news is, I think it’s a fine film, but nothing more. That being said, the hate may be a little overwhelming, as there are far worse best picture nominees (The Blind Side???).
When you try to cramp so much about a legendary figure into 2 hours, it’s no surprise that everything comes off as rushed. And that’s pretty much my issue with this movie: it touches on everything, but on a superficial level. Every emotion, every tear, every “conflict” comes off as one-dimensional. Obviously, the movie is trying to focus more on the relationship between Hawking and his wife but I do wish it had explored his work a little more too. Surely it wasn’t as simple as him coming up with theories just like that? Anyway, everything pretty much zooms past just like that, only getting better when the characters of Jonathan and Elaine were introduced because there was finally some, you know, conflict. Of course, all these only happened in the second half of the film, while you are treated to a picture perfect portrayal of the Hawking’s marriage that can withstand anything. It’s not outright terrible, but I just wished there was more. Also, the fact that everybody seems to speak in inspirational quotes kinda bothered me at first, but at least the actors managed to sell their lines.
Of course, the whole movie is really pretty to look at, and I also like its score, which made it pretty relaxing to watch. I think this is the only nomination, along with Felicity Jone’s best actress nod (no win though), that I can agree with. I actually thought she was the one supplying the emotional power throughout the film. Despite how, well, basic the screenplay is, I thought she managed to develop her character throughout the film. I could see her frustration, her sadness, her inner conflicts (like her feelings for Jonathan) and her moving loyalty to Stephen. It’s a very good performance that I would even say is the mvp of this whole movie. Still, I have to confess I prefer her other best actress nominees. But it’s a good performance that I’m glad I watched anyway. And also, changing her hairstyle =/= ageing, but that’s not her fault anyway.
Eddie Redmayne… I don’t know man. I know there’s a backlash against his win, and I initially thought it was because of who he beat. But having watched it in its entirety now, I’m afraid I cannot really agree with his Oscar win. I’ll give him credit when it comes to the physicality of his performance – clearly, he has done his research and the way he portrays the character’s physical deterioration is fantastic. He also has some crying scenes here and there that are moving, but I felt like he was just on one long note throughout his performance. It’s not really his fault though – the movie goes all out to portray Hawking as some likable and adorable saint who has no flaws, so there’s only that much he can do. Especially in the second half, where he basically doesn’t say anything at all and Jones overshadows him. A good performance, but nothing more.
Of course, I was already aware that i’s going to be a weak year for the best picture category so I wasn’t too disappointed with The Theory of Everything. Like I said before, it’s a fine film but nothing more. 3.5/5.
Also, while I’d probably have to rewatch Gone Girl to have a clearer opinion, best actress would probably be something like:
1) Reese Witherspoon 5/5
2) Marion Cotillard 5/5
3) Rosamund Pike 4.5/5
4) Julianne Moore 4.5/5
5) Felicity Jones 4/5
I’d never have thought that there would be a day I give Reese Witherspoon my personal win for best actess, but I really loved her performance. It might seem like a strong year for me but I still very much preferred the last 2 years. I’m probably over-enthusiastic and honestly, Cotillard is starting to lean towards 4.5 while Moore is more of a 4 for me now. I will have to rewatch again to decide though!