Monday, February 09, 2015

Boyhood is an American coming-of-age drama film, written and directed by Richard Linklater, and starring Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke. The film was shot intermittently over the course of a 12-year period, from 2002 to 2014, and depicts the adolescence of a young boy in Texas growing up with divorced parents.

The film premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically on July 11, 2014. Boyhood also competed in the main competition section of the 64th Berlin International Film Festival, where Linklater won the Silver Bear for Best Director. It was declared a landmark film by many notable critics, who praised its direction, acting, and scope. The film was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress for Arquette. It also received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and acting nominations for Arquette and Hawke.

Boyhood received near-unanimous acclaim from film critics. It holds a “certified fresh” score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 260 reviews, with an average rating of 9.3/10. The critical consensus states, “Epic in technical scale but breathlessly intimate in narrative scope, Boyhood is a sprawling investigation of the human condition.” On Metacritic, the film has a full score of 100 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating “universal acclaim.” It is the highest rated of all films reviewed upon their original release on the site. It also holds the highest number of reviews for a film with a score of 100, and is among the highest-scoring films ever reviewed. Both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes listed Boyhood as the best-reviewed film of 2014.

The praise for Boyhood extended beyond the Anglosphere. A collection of 25 French critiques on AlloCiné, including those from Le Monde and Cahiers du Cinéma, indicates near-unanimous approval, with an average score of 4.0 out of 5. The international film magazine Sight & Sound named it the best film of 2014 after polling an international group of 112 film critics.

In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called Boyhood a “model of cinematic realism,” saying that its realism was “jolting” and “so brilliantly realized and understated that it would be easy to overlook.” A. O. Scott, also writing for The New York Times, called Boyhood the best film of 2014, saying that he could not think of any film that had affected him the way Boyhood had in his 15 years as a professional film critic. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also named Boyhood the best movie of the year, calling it the year’s “biggest emotional powerhouse.” Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called it “one of the greatest films of the decade.” Richard Roeper gave the film an A+, calling it one of the greatest films he had ever seen. Wai Chee Dimock, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, compared Linklater’s film with Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee’s memoir, Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life. Many critics singled out Patricia Arquette’s performance for praise. Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle said that watching Arquette was “like watching a generation’s hopes and struggles, presented by an actress with a fullness of emotion, and yet with utter matter-of-factness.” Michael Phillips, writing for The Chicago Tribune, lauded Arquette’s “lack of pretense or affectation as a performer.” Boyhood also earned the admiration of other filmmakers and artists. Director Christopher Nolan named Boyhood as his favorite film of 2014, calling it “extraordinary.” Writer Joyce Carol Oates tweeted her support, saying: “It is rare that a film so mimics the rhythms and texture of actual life as Boyhood. Such seeming spontaneity is a very high art.”

Other film critics reacted less positively to the film. Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan described it as “at best, OK” and one whose “animating idea is more interesting than its actual satisfactions.” Sam Adams of Indiewire argued that the unanimous praise for Boyhood is bad for film criticism, as it tends to marginalize the analysis of critics who disagree with the majority. Adams argued that masterpieces are made “by careful scrutiny” and not “by unanimous praise.” Richard Brody of The New Yorker listed the film at the top of a year-end list he called “The Negative Ten,” a list of films with “significant merit,” but that also “occluded the view toward the year’s most accomplished and daringly original work.”

Boyhood appeared on more critics’ annual “best-of” lists in 2014 than any other film released that year, including the most first-place votes.

The Bafta Award Winners 2015: Full List is here.

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