If there is one film out there that has been the talk of the town from this year's Sundance Film Festival, it is Richard Linklater's Boyhood. Following a collection of actors, the story shows the growth of a boy (Ellar Coltrane) from his youth through the next 12 years of his life. As the recently released trailer shows, it is a passion project unlike any other. Where films are often delayed due to contract disagreements, this one was the most logical: reality and time. But will all of the effort live up to a quality product?
More-so than most directors out there, Linklater has entered another ambitious period of his film making. From his early days of Slacker and the "Keep Austin Weird" movement, he has done his best to make contemporary stories about the average American located in between the coasts. He is a master of conversation, as most of his films aren't all that visually impressive without the dialogue. This was most evident in last year's brilliant Before Midnight, which capped a trilogy of romance by taking it to new, real places. It is strange for a director so dedicated to the spoken word to notice how intricate and perfect every sentence seems to be. In fact, it helped to gain Before Midnight and its predecessor Before Sunset nominations in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
Clocking in at 163 minutes, this is likely to be an epic unlike anything he has made before. Thinking of the vast history of film, has there been any successful story shot over 10+ years and not just because of technical glitches? One that involves the actors aging and becoming more defined in their personality. Boyhood looks to be in a class of its own with this achievement, provided that the buzz out of Sundance is accurate. If anything, it will break the notion of various actors playing the same character, which has always been the normative.
Simply put, Linklater is pushing film forward in interesting directions. He doesn't rush to make fascinating products, but instead lets them cook over time. The Before trilogy's biggest success is that they weren't film in a relatively close time to each other. With the field of coming-of-age stories being dense and full of filler, it has been awhile since there has been something to switch up the game, if only in technique. Even then, it feels strange to note that Coltrane literally spent more than half of his life working on this film. That more than anything deserves some recognition.
I want to believe that the very nature of this film will get it some acclaim at the Oscars. It is being released in July, which is when open season is officially underway. Any and all films are eligible, even if the big leagues come to play after September. Boyhood however has a lot of merit to give it an edge. Linklater has been nominated twice for Oscars and it seems like Ethan Hawke is on a role while Patricia Arquette also brings some interesting flavor to the film. Even then, the deal breaker will be Coltrane, who is essentially the glue to the film. Even then, thank God that this film didn't fall apart halfway through due to tragedy or Coltrane being a bad actor. It is like the Harry Potter of singular narratives.
It is too early to predict if it will receive any attention at the Academy Awards. Linklater's reputation suggests that it will be a contender in the Best Original Screenplay category for sure. However, everything else is debatable. I want to believe that Coltrane's efforts will at least be acknowledged with a Best Actor nomination, even if that is my vote merely on dedication. I have yet to see the film, at which point I will go into greater detail about my predictions. Even then, it would be a travesty if the Academy overlooked a film so audacious that it played with something new in the medium. It is supposed to be about honoring achievement in film. From this trailer alone, it may be the biggest standout of 2014.
Will Boyhood play well at the Oscars? Is Richard Linklater overdue for a Best Picture nomination? Is Ellar Coltrane a logical contender for Best Actor?