No spoilers ahead.
Trailer for the unaware:
Aside from his 1998 film, Rushmore, which I only vaguely recall, this next addition into my catalog of watching Best Picture nominations, is my first foray into Wes Anderson, the acclaimed director, also nominated for Best Director. I was unsure, I have to say. The first few tentative minutes of the film made me think, “Oh gosh,” because there’s a certain, winking at the audience in the style and tone of the film. And I’ve always found “winking at the audience” to be problematic and a tad bit ostentatious.
With that said, that quickly diminished in the face of the film’s elements: 1.) First and foremost, look at that fucking picture above. That’s the work of the cinematographer, Robert Yeoman. It’s just a gorgeous movie that, if it was book, I’d say “jumps off the page,” but I don’t know what the movie equivalent of that expression is…But seriously, it’s a richly colored and visualized film. It makes me want to return to that world merely to swim in its vividness again. That’s the mark of an excellently realized film. If it doesn’t win Best Cinematography, as it’s up for, then it’s a joke that isn’t winking at me. 2.) Ralph Fiennes is exquisite. I mean, if I drank wine, I’d say he’s like a fine wine. I really need to work on my expressions. Alas, he’s marvelously silly, marvelously quick-witted and truly embodies his character. A much-deserved Best Actor nomination. 3.) And yes, Wes Anderson’s direction. It’s playful, whimsical and fits perfectly within this world. 4.) It’s a good story with humor, flair, emotion, drama and energy. Oh my god the energy.
To that latter point, there’s a scene in the film that’s among one of my favorites I’ve seen in quite some time. It was a long, wonderfully fun take. Absolutely absurd, but in a good way.
I’d give this a shot, folks. Wes Anderson absolutely has a distinctive style and I can’t imagine it’s for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Grand Budapest Hotel.