Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), directed, produced and written by Wes Anderson and starring a multitude of Anderson’s favorite stars, is a masterpiece of style that contains complex narrative layers, keeping viewers visually entranced until the last frame. Audiences are asked to suspend disbelief as we are whisked away to a genteel time and land, where order and manners are as important (if not more so) than politics, and relationships are forged through these shared values.

When I was in graduate school studying literary theory, a peer suggested that the layers of narrative in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were not unlike those of an onion; stories laid gently on top of one another to create a single, incredibly intricate and fulfilling tale. Grand Budapest does much the same thing, with four very important stories being told at four different moments in time, which ultimately come together to create an epic tale of love and loss.

Spoilers ahead, sweetie!


The Oscars are around the corner, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash (2014) is on the tip of every critic’s tongue. Wearing the proud badge of 95% Fresh, the drummer-centric film has been nominated for five Academy Awards, one of which is Best Picture. But Whiplash is more than a movie about music—it raises important questions about the student/mentor relationship.

Spoilers ahead!

The story focuses on hopeful jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) and his teacher Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Andrew is studying at the Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York, where Fletcher is a feared and respected band conductor. Andrew is optimistic, practicing passionately after hours, aspiring to be like the great drummers he admires.

Fox Searchlight
Fox Searchlight

Recommended for those who enjoy discussions of pop culture and theatre

Birdman (2014) is a dark dramedy written and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, starring Michael Keaton as the titular character. One of the eight Academy Award nominations for Best Picture this year, the plot circles around themes of ego, culture, and the price of fame, ultimately settling on the question, “What do we really want from life?” In fact, the film opens with a quote from American author Raymond Carver: “And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?”

Fox Searchlight
Fox Searchlight

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a has-been action blockbuster star who dreams of making a comeback in the form of his new play–his adaptation of a Raymond Carver work that he’s directing and starring in. The first act of the film gives us tension in a last-minute actor switch, which allows Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) to shake things up with his unpredictable temperament and method acting. As the last minute rehearsals and preview nights lead up to big opening, Thomson is plagued by thoughts of self doubt, tension with his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), and a desire to prove that he is “more” than his stint as the fictional film superhero “Birdman.” 


Highly Recommended

The Oscars are less than two weeks off, and the Collected Mutineer has reviewed three of the Best Picture nominations so far. When we were deciding who would review which film, I pushed men, women, and children aside in my eagerness to claim Boyhood. Why? Well, let’s talk about what the film is about.

The film follows the life of Mason from the age of five until the age of eighteen. It is the brainchild of Richard Linklater, who both wrote and directed the film over a period of twelve years, allowing for the actors to age at the same rate as their characters. The plot may seem simple, but as the film tries to maintain a stance of realism, we come to understand that “real life” is rarely simple. This is not Leave it to Beaver; grittiness and heartbreak mark the milestones of Mason’s life as much as love and laughter. 

theory of everything posterWith the 2015 Oscars less than three weeks away, we here at the Collective blog have decided to review the eight films nominated in the Best Picture category. We (unknowingly) kicked this off with a review of The Imitation Game back in November, so it seems only fair to follow suit with its biggest competitor: The Theory of Everything (2014). 

Based on the book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking, The Theory of Everything tells the story of renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his first wife (Felicity Jones). The film begins in 1963—about 21 years old, Stephen is a new Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge. He is energetic and spry, a student who is as active physically as he is mentally. We see him racing his bicycle to school, and later as part of the rowing team. It is almost painful to watch, knowing that soon all his bodily capabilities will be stolen from him.


The Imitation Game is one of the most talked about films of 2014. There has been Oscar buzz regarding Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing, and it isn’t difficult to understand why. The story of the famed mathematician and his team at Bletchley Park during World War II is one of adventure, emotional trauma, and what it’s like to be an outsider. While the movie can technically be classified as a biopic, it is so much more than that—it portrays an important message about how we choose to treat our fellow human beings.

**If you don’t know the historical facts about Alan Turing, I suggest you skip this review as it contains minor spoilers.**