Its a tough category. Gone Girl gets eliminated first. Gillian Flynn’s script is well strucutured and witty but may be too modest and doesn’t aim as high as the other nominated screenplays. The Imitation Game is very well written and manages to find hmour and suspense in a story that could have easily been dull and hard to follow. More importantly, it rises to the challenge of telling a compelling and ultimately heart-breaking with a main character who can at first be so hard for us to relate to. As I’ve said before though, screenwriter Graham Moore takes a couple of lazy and cliched shortcuts too many. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel, another hilarious and bittersweet Anderson film. Anderson’s movies seem to exist in a world of their own and comparing TGBH with the other nominees seems strange, as if it should only be compared with other Anderson movies. That leaves Boyhood and Birdman- two of this year’s best movies. Boyhood is the more profound of the two experiences but the Birdman was so well written it was one of those few scripts that I could just sit and read. I’d almost have to flip a coin to decide but I’m voting Birdman.
Wes Anderson and David Fincher are two directors whose next projects I am always anxiously awaiting and I don’t think either one of them has ever directed a film that I haven’t seen several times. But, just as I elimated Gone Girl’s and Budapest’s screenplays from consideration, Fincher and Anderson may not be able to compete with the other three very strong nominees. Selma, Boyhood, and Birdman may be my three favourite English-language movies of 2014. Selma is both inspiring and horrifying, with director Ava DuVemay depicting human capacity compassion just as effectively as for cruelty and handles Dr. King’s private life (almost) as effectively as his public life. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu gives long stretches of Birdman the appearance of one continuous take, which is especially ambitious given how much is going on both between all the different characters and inside Riggan’s imagination. It’s the kind of movie that makes someone think “wow, that was really well directed”. But Boyhood was too ambitious, too real, and too beautiful for me to vote for anyone but Richard Linklater. I doubt he’ll win- it’ll go to DuVemay or ñárritu- but I would love it if he did.