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Boyhood Becomes Among Best Reviewed Films of All Time, Takes Lead in Best Picture Race

The Oscar race has nowhere near begun. But if you’re hunting around for a frontrunner, look no further than Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. 12 years in the making, with a 99 score on Metacritic – that has to be among the highest of all time on the site, behind mostly classics. Even Slant Magazine and Stephanie Zacharek loved the movie. That means not just Boyhood wowing critics, but it will fit snugly in the wheelhouse of your average Academy voter and/or industry voter. Boyhood appeals to both men and women but for men it probably takes on a slightly deeper layer being that it’s called “boyhood” and is about the childhood of mostly a young boy. So “boyhood” could really be the name that describes Hollywood overall – industry voters, critics, audiences, production companies, investors, etc. They aim right at: boys.

But by all accounts Boyhood is much more than that — but the much more might not help it win. The rest of it very well could. Helping it along is Richard Linklater’s up to now uncelebrated career, which includes all three Sunsrise/Sunset/Midnight movies with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, Dazed and Confused, which launched Matthew McConaughey’s career, an entire legacy of being a filmmaker 100% true to his art, never selling out and always reaching for authentic stories that matter. His has been a rich, if mostly unnoticed by awards groups, career. The push to get recognition for Before Midnight will help catapult Boyhood into the majors. The best thing it has going for it is that some are skeptical about its Oscar chances. That makes it a fly under the radar type of contender, one that has come early enough in the year to skate right by potential controversy, is tried and true with critics – Manohla Dargis saw it three times and plans to see it again.

This, and many other reasons, makes we here at AwardsDaily confident in our placing of Boyhood as your current frontrunner to win. On the other hand, merely uttering this sentence puts it at a distinct advantage if anyone is actually reading this site. But such is the name of the game in Oscar watching. You calls ‘em as you sees ‘em or else someone else will beat you to the punch.

Those wanting to say “it’s not an Oscar movie” should save their breath. This is one you kind of see coming from a mile away. It sets the bar fairly high. Other films released this year will have to meet it and match it. Who knows where it’s going from here. Telluride has not yet launched, nor Toronto, but what we do know about the Oscar race is that Sundance movies don’t generally launch a winner. The winner does have to be seen some time before the end of October, beginning of November to be in line to win. Million Dollar Baby was the last Best Picture contender to come out relatively late in the season and win. When Oscar changed the date, pushing it back one month, it through everything in flux. Two things would dramatically change. 1) the public would effectively be selected out of the Best Picture race. It would not longer matter what they thought or how much money they spent. The race is decided long before films even hit theaters much of the time. 2) Late comers have too hard a time scrambling out from under a potential controversy (Zero Dark Thirty) or just don’t have enough time to gain enough momentum to beat back a consensus favorite. In other words, with such a short time for voting, you inevitably see uniformity between the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Oscar, with only a tiny bit of wiggle room.

Last year, for instance, there were three strong contenders barreling towards the Dolby: 12 Years a Slave, Gravity and American Hustle. They divided up between the guilds, with 12 Years and Gravity sharing the PGA, Gravity taking the DGA, American Hustle taking the SAG and eventually 12 Years and Gravity splitting Picture and Director at the Oscars. Both of those were seen very early. Gravity at Venice and 12 Years at Telluride. Hustle was a late-comer and actually benefitted from that but love for it seemed fleeting. The other films had more time for reflection and rallying of votes. And thus, Boyhood is in the prime spot to gather steam as the season moves forward.

44 Comments on this Post

  1. cirkusfolk

    Yeah it’s pretty amazing it still had a 100% on rottentomatoes with 90 reviews in. Can anyone else think of other almost perfectly reviewed movies. Finding Nemo only had 2 negative out of 296….that ain’t bad either! I think most definately at this point Boyhood will get nomed for Pic and Director. Maybe original screenplay too.

  2. Edkargir

    Boyhood is a masterpiece , I doubt I will see a better film this year. All 4 actors deserve Oscar moms along with Richard linkletter for best director and org screenplay , and editing

  3. Jeremy C.

    Armond White hates it and called it a “drab folly.” So there’s that.

  4. 12 Years a Slave has 48 reviews, 34 of which (I think) are perfect 100s. Boyhood now has 28 reviews and 21 perfect 100s. Can it get as many perfect scores and maintain something in the high 90s? Sure. But it would need 48 reviews, not sure if there will be 48 reviews on the site for something like Boyhood as opposed to a mammoth release. However, this movie is gaining steam like I have never seen in a movie like this, a Linklater movie. I can’t wait to see this. 2014 is spoiling us with amazing movies.

  5. Jeremy, seriously? Did he say that? I have to read that review…

  6. @Road2Oscars

    I loved it at the San Francisco Film Festival. Great to see it has legs and is running to #Oscars!

  7. Oh Jesus…I read it. It seems he likes Rise of the Planet of the Apes, an Arcade Fire music video, Michel Gondry’s movie from last year and not much more. It’s such a bitter piece of work. He complains that people don’t remember a Michael Apted documentary or Truffaut’s Doniel series. Good lord.

  8. Those Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes scores for Boyhood are amazing. I should really keep an eye out for the movie when it comes near my theater.

  9. Richard B

    I don’t really see this surviving the flashier releases of the fall, but it could take the small auteur film slot that Tree if Life, Beasts, and Amour all benefitted from. It’s running time and realistic intimacy is very unlike any other winner so winning picture won’t happen.

  10. Philipp

    I’d like to read a review of Boyhood here on AD.

  11. Bob Burns

    huge reviews. wonderful

    Crash was released early May.

  12. steve50

    “Armond White hates it and called it a “drab folly.” So there’s that.”

    Armond White is a drab folly. There’s that, too.

    The fact that a film made using unconventional means, such as using the same actor over 12 years, actually succeeds with the critics after all that time has been put into it is simply amazing.

    Linklater’s constant passion for breaking out of the norm is unique and puts him in the lead for the critics’ awards, for sure.

  13. ubourgeois

    I could definitely see this occupying the token indie spot in the BP lineup, probably copping Screenplay, but winning BP? I’m doubtful. Honestly, since when do outstanding reviews guarantee a BP win? Toy Story 3 didn’t win, A Separation wasn’t even nominated, etc. I wouldn’t bet on this.

  14. ubourgeois

    To clarify: I adore Linklater and want so badly to see Boyhood. I’m just skeptical of it winning.

  15. Robin Write

    This is incredible. By that I mean the reception of this movie. The concept of the movie. The idea that this time span of a movie can get Oscar coverage. Richard Linklater’s career. His influence on me, growing into an adult and making / writing movies. Incredible. A truly exciting time to follow the movies this closely.

  16. Natasha

    “You calls ‘em as you sees ‘em or else someone else will beat you to the punch.”–

    Is a hostile takeover of awardsdaily.com by Gollum in progress?

    Seriously–this would make for a boring Oscar race–being able to call it before mid-July. But I welcome the film and its excellence into the world by all means (haven’t seen it but someday….). And I even posted yesterday that I have a feeling about this one, too. But so much is unseen….

  17. Bryce Forestieri

    Just checked and it won’t be released in my area until the first weekend of August. Bummer :(

    I’m sort of in between Sasha’s “new front-runner” and another reader’s “indie spot” (e.g., WINTERS BONE?). I think it’s a solid player, but not to win the whole thing. Picture, Screenplay, and yes Director seem very safe bets. I can’t see the directors ignoring Linklater’s passion and commitment with this project, and why not kill two birds with one stone and “honor the man’s career” too. Now, I hope to be wrong about this, and I’m not sure how “dramatic” the boy’s performance is, but it’s likely that the largely barbaric Actors Branch won’t see it as much more than a “gimmick”.

  18. Best Picture showdown
    Unbroken v. Boyhood

    no other picture should bother probably.

  19. I don’t think Sasha is making a point about the glorious reviews as an indicator for it chances, but how deeply this film is likely to resonate with voters who have seen it.

  20. One day I read of Metacritic being criticised on AD, another I find out its rating for a specific film is of such worth as to hail that film as one of the best-reviewed of all time. Metacritic is a poorly-selected sample of mainstream critics, with a flawed system and an archive that stretches back over only a small fraction of film history, over which period it has failed to recognise some dozens, if not hundreds, of the most significant works of art in the medium of film.

    Compare Boyhood to the many other films made each year, across the entire globe. It may, subjectively, be up there among the finest films of all time for certain people. It may end up as the best-reviewed American film of 2014, maybe even of the decade. But to claim that it is among the best-reviewed films of all time is laughable.

    Just the other week there was a post on AD claiming that Mood Indigo and Very Good Girls stood chances at Best Picture Oscar nominations, and now this claim? Nonsense.

  21. Fuck this looks good. I’ll be going to see it next week.

  22. *checks box office mojo for the theater count*

    5. 5 stinkin’ theaters. I’m not playing any reindeer games with these small indie movies anymore. I’m not gonna wait ’til freakin’ February for any strategic release patterns to win awards and all that shit. You don’t play by me, you’re dead to me. Otherwise, get your ass in the redbox tout de suite.

  23. rufussondheim

    I think Sasha’s frontrunner status is the proper one, after all no release so far has been a real contender and nothing out of Cannes seems surefire either. Boyhood is currently the best option of those films that have BEEN SEEN, a guideline she’s been consistently using of late.

  24. PaulContinuum

    If this is the frontrunner for the 2014 BP race, Lord help us. C’mon, Interstellar. How bland can Boyhood’s storyline be?

  25. Bob Burns

    Ellar Coltane in Lead? Supporting for Hawke? Arquette?

  26. Debcn76

    Saw it yesterday… It won´t win BP or BD…

    It is a nice filmed movie and a groundbreaking cinematic experiment (filming during 12 years)… but not much more.

    Ethan Hawke is charming but overperfoming, Patricia Arquette is sweet but just ok
    Ellar Coltrane gives the best performance of the movie… although it ends up lacking emotional depth.

    Among American audiences it might work well, but for europeans… buh don´t think so… It is kind of depressing seeing how Americans grow up… dysfunctional families, fast food and weird religion…
    You feel Julie Delpy´s depth and complexity is missing…
    But a nice experiment to watch.

  27. The Great Dane

    Ubourgeois:
    You can’t use foreign language films and animated films to compare with “Boyhood”.
    Foreign language films and animated films have a disadvantage in the Best Picture race to begin with – that’s why they have separate categories (Best Foreign Language Film and Best Animated Film). The voters don’t seem to be very willing to put foreign language films and animated films in the Best Picture category very often – and none of them have won the Big Price yet.
    You just can’t say that “Boyhood” doesn’t stand a chance because of previous animated or foreign films. It’s just not the same thing in OscarWorld. :)

  28. Jake Bart

    Cineastes: Wow, the new Linklater film is really wonderful, innovative, and moving. Plus the reviews are out of this world. No way AMPAS can ignore that.

    AMPAS: *Collectively giggles*

    Seriously though, I’ll be doing cartwheels if Linklater and co. get some Oscar recognition for BOYHOOD. It’ll be even more joyful than seeing Spike Jonze and Emmanuel Lubezki get some love this year. Plus, if UNBROKEN hits big and gets Deakins a long overdue Oscar, it may briefly restore my faith in the process.

  29. ‘It is a nice filmed movie and a groundbreaking cinematic experiment (filming during 12 years)… but not much more.’

    Lav Diaz’s Evolution of a Filipino Family was shot over a period of 11 years, in the US and the Philippines. It tells the story of a Filipino family over a 16 year period. Diaz had a shoestring budget, a tiny percentage of the estimated $2.4 million that Richard Linklater had; they were only able to shoot the film when money, cast and crew were available. And another point: this is what I’d consider among the best-reviewed films of all time.

    Michael Winterbottom’s Everyday was shot over six years, depicting a British family’s life over that period.

    Boyhood is not a groundbreaking cinematic experiment. It’s just the first time someone’s brought this filmmaking method to the American masses. This reminds me of when people were praising Les Miserables for being the first musical in which the songs are sung live – Peter Bogdanovich did that in At Long Last Love, as did Julie Taymor in Across the Universe.

  30. Tero Heikkinen

    We Europeans are really looking forward to Boyhood. Can’t see this – based on the trailer – being TOO American.

    Come November, there’s always three movies that could win BP and I think Boyhood will survive all the way there. The other two, I don’t know – Unbroken and Interstellar, maybe? So far, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the best 2014 film I’ve seen and I want a Wes Anderson film to be nominated. If this won’t – nothing will.

  31. Boyhood, as brilliant as it is, will find it tough to break into Best Picture nomination list. It will vastly depend on what kind of year this turns out to be. Yes, it’s the film critics are talking about right now, but the million dollar question is will they still be talking about it at end of the year after Telluride and Toronto when there will be several other films to talk about, to write about. A small distributor like IFC backing the film doesn’t help either. Though, it’s also true that Boyhood, in all certainty will end up as the best reviewed film of the year. Does it help ? To an extent, I would say. But not much. Before Midnight was also among best reviewed, if not “the best” reviewed last year. Having said that, this year isn’t looking like as very strong year of films like last year was. So, who knows ? Boyhood, in the end, will make it into Top 9.

  32. I’m very excited to see this film. What a thrill that someone launched such a massively ambitious and visionary project over 12 years that actually shows the passage of time rather than simulates it. Just one misconception in other comments: the best reviewed film of the year is NOT necessarily the best film of the year or the one that deserves the Oscar or for that matter the one that will win. I mean Toy Story 3, while a consensus fav among reviewers, wasn’t BP winner material in my opinion. Neither was A Separation. This is Hollywood’s top award; it’s never been a place to honor world cinema. I would however bet the house that Boyhood will receive a Best Director nominations. Wins, everyone should know, are too early to tell. I just hope your positioning it as a favorite this early (way too early in my opinion) doesn’t blow it’s chances.

  33. Also, wasn’t Argo the Best Reviewed film of 2012? Yeah, enough said.

  34. The most amazing thing is how ugly the kids turned out when they got older.

  35. Natasha

    @Gautam—I think this year might actually be much stronger in terms of films/Oscar race for BP.

  36. Edkargir

    I saw Boyhood in April it will be on my list of the ten best films of the decade . As far as the oscars Arquette and Coltrane are leads and Hawke and Linkletter are supporting actor and actress all 4 should be nominated . This film is a masterpiece.

  37. @Natasha..

    I am keeping track of all the anticipated films and at this point of time, it doesn’t look like this year will be as strong as last. But who knows, there might be films still lurking behind the hype that turn out to be great. So, yes it’s early to estimate, but considering how great last year was for films in general, it would be difficult feat to match.

  38. Jesus Alonso

    An achievement like this, a bet like this, probably is too big to ignore and automatically lands frontrunner status on most cathegories: Picture, Director, Lead and Supp. Actor, Lead Actress, Original Screenplay, Film Editing. I mean, they’ve devoted 12 years to make this project, a compromise that reviews show excelled beyond the most optimistic expectations. Plus, Linklater may be overdue after his trilogy, for some love. At least, a Screenplay win is out of question, but some gigantic film has to appear to make this pale in comparison, specially since it is obvious, it’s not an Oscar film but true art.

    Question is, how can they deny? Specially Hawke, too, who is still waiting for his first win after several noms?

  39. Jesus Alonso

    Important point to add: the film will likely sweep the Film Critics precursors and it’s probably frontrunner for the SAG Ensemble and GG Drama, automatically.

  40. 87th Annual Oscar Predictions for July 12th, 2014
    Oscar Predictions for First Round
    Best Picture
    Birdman 5 Nominations
    Boyhood* 5 Nominations
    Foxcatcher 6 Nominations
    The Grand Budapest Hotel 9 Nominations
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 7 Nominations
    The Imitation Game 3 Nominations
    Inherent Vice 4 Nominations
    Interstellar 10 Nominations
    Unbroken 7 Nominations

    Best Director
    Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Alejandre Gonzalez Innaritu for Birdman
    Richard Linklater for Boyhood*
    Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
    Christopher Nolan for Interstellar

    Best Actor
    Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher*
    Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
    Micheal Keaton in Birdman
    Eddie Redmayne in Theory of Everything 1 Nomination
    Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner 2 Nominations

    Best Actress
    Amy Adams in Big Eyes 4 Nominations
    Julianne Moore in Map to the Stars* 1 Nomination
    Rosemund Pike in Gone Girl 1 Nomination
    Michelle Williams in Suite Francaise 1 Nomination
    Reese Witherspoon in Wild 1 Nomination

    Best Supporting Actor
    Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice*
    Bill Murray in St. Vincent 1 Nomination
    Edward Norton in Birdman
    Jack O’Connell in Unbroken
    Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

    Best Supporting Actress
    Patricia Arquette in Boyhood*
    Emily Blunt in Into the Woods 7 Nominations
    Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year 2 Nominations
    Viola Davis in Get on Up 2 Nominations
    Anna Kendrick in Into the Woods

    Best Foreign Language Film
    Leviathan from Russia 1 Nomination
    Mommy from Canada* 1 Nomination
    Two Days One Night from Belgium 1 Nomination
    Wild Tales from Argentina 1 Nomination
    The Wonders from Italy 1 Nomination

    Best Documentary Feature
    The Case Against 8 1 Nomination
    The Green Prince 1 Nomination
    Life Itself* 1 Nomination
    Return to Home 1 Nomination
    Rich Hill 1 Nomination

    Best Animated Feature
    The Boxtrolls 1 Nomination
    How to Train Your Dragon 2 1 Nomination
    The Lego Movie* 2 Nominations
    The Princess Kaguya 1 Nomination
    Song of the Sea 1 Nomination

    Original Screenplay
    Birdman
    Boyhood*
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Interstellar
    A Most Violent Year

    Adapted Screenplay
    Foxcatcher*
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    The Imitation Game
    Inherent Vice
    Unbroken

    Costume Design
    Big Eyes
    Exodus: Gods and Kings 4 Nominations
    The Grand Budapest Hotel*
    Into the Woods
    Macbeth

    Cinematography TIE!
    Dion Beebe for Into the Woods*
    Roger Deakins for Unbroken*
    Hoyt Van Hoytema for Interstellar
    Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
    Robert D. Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel

    Production Design
    Big Eyes
    The Grand Budapest Hotel*
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Into the Woods
    Interstellar

    Film Editing
    Boyhood*
    Foxcatcher
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Interstellar
    Unbroken

    Visual Effects
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes* 3 Nominations
    Get on Up
    Guardians of the Galaxy 1 Nomination
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Interstellar

    Makeup and Hair Styling
    Exodus: Gods and Kings
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*

    Original Score
    Danny Elfman for Big Eyes
    Jonny Greenwood for Inherent Vice
    Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Alexandre Desplat for Unbroken*
    Hans Zimmer for Interstellar

    Original Song
    Alone is Not Alone 1 Nomination
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Into the Woods
    The Lego Movie*
    Muppets Most Wanted 1 Nomination

    Sound Mixing
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*
    Exodus: Gods and Kings
    Get on Up
    Interstellar
    Into the Woods

    Sound Editing
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*
    Exodus: Gods and Kings
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Interstellar
    Unbroken

  41. zazouzazou

    Well it seems that if a director can convince filmcritics that he or she is the creator of a solid story and presentation then said critics will push the film to the Oscars. Except the audience reaction here and abroad gets minimized through ridicule or shunning.Too many art house/indie films are mainly for film critics taste and ultimately awards. Not that there is anything wrong with that……correct?

  42. steve50

    “Too many art house/indie films are mainly for film critics taste and ultimately awards.”

    I wish somebody would describe just exactly what that is, the formula to win the “film critics” and “awards”. You’d think after what, 100 years, someone would have a damn recipe, just like they have the recipe to grab that first weekend.

    I agree – the shunning on this will be relentless. Too bad the glory is a bit premature.

  43. It’s a shoo-in for the BP 9. BD nom is where the war is for this one. Linklater’s due like few, but who knows

  44. Based on what’s come out to date, I think this film is getting four acting nominations, as well as directing and bet picture nominations. The thing of it is- it wasn’t a stunt. They may say there was no “script” but at least the last half of the movie was pulling to that final scene where Mason’s new friend was. Talking about life is a collection of moments and Mason (listening to his Dad’s advice that he needed to listen to women, not just talk) was digesting and repeating what she was saying. When Mason looked in the camera, I laughed out loud. What a great ending- 2 hours and 45 minutes of film that flew by.

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