For this lineup of "Grand Budapest Hotel", "Whiplash", "Birdman", and "Selma", "Birdman" was the one I felt most meh about and I ended up liking it. Discussing the movies after with my friend, it was hard to say which of these might win, and harder still to say which one we'd want to see again. "Selma" was wonderful, but terribly heartbreaking even with the small triumphs earned. "Grand Budapest Hotel" was gorier than I had expected (it was cartoony violence, I simply hadn't expected it which probably says more about me than the movie) but quite fun in parts. "Whiplash" and "Birdman" also had in common some non-traditional story arcs as they followed their protagonists on a journey that might make or break them. I think next week's batch will be a bigger mix as far as my reactions, although I have already seen "The Imitation Game" I'm interested to see if a rewatch will shift my experience some.
There are themes you can predict going in. Best Picture nominees tend to focus on dark journeys taken by misunderstood men. But, watching them back to back, there are also things like, "Whiplash" featured a drummer, and so the drum heavy score of "Birdman" started to seem like a weird continuation. Each of these movies featured credits only at the end, which is certainly not rare, but I feel like it is still not the norm so seeing four in a row with that was interesting.
Seating becomes much more important when you are going to be there for four movies. Also, it meant I did not shush the couple who started talking during a key moment in "Whiplash" because, well, we were going to be hanging out for two more movies and they did stop. (I still could have shushed them, but really, it's not like people don't know you can hear them talking when you are right next to them.)
So, I've been meaning to do the Oscar Movie Marathon that some of the theaters do for quite some time. Combinations of scheduling, the invariable, nope, not even if you paid me movie choice have prevented me but this year there were some movies that wouldn't have been my choice but only one I had no way levels of concern and I had the appropriate days free. So, a friend and I went to the first half this weekend and discovered a few things.First, a surprising number of people showed up partway through, having either already seen some of the earlier selections or just not been able to get there that early. (It was interesting because while the day was well priced for four movies, and still reasonable (comparative to current movie prices) for three, the value started to disappear if you were only seeing one or two.