'Boyhood' fell at the final hurdle at the National Society of Film Critics' vote in New York.
Boyhood, Richard Linklater's award-season heavyweight that looks most likely to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards come February, has been beaten in one of the final major awards hand-outs before the Globes and Oscars. The National Society of Film Critics decided to award its Best Picture gong to Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language, catching many commentators by surprise.
Boyhood is the clear favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars
In fairness, Linklater's movie almost snatched the award, needing one more ballot in the first round of voting to secure it. In the end, it was beaten by Godard's movie 25-24.
Continue reading: 'Boyhood' Beaten by Godard's 'Goodbye to Language' in Major Movie Award
Critics simply didn't know what to make of Godard's collection of sounds and images.
Swiss-French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard despatched a film full of 3D images to the Cannes Film Festival this year in what many are perceiving to be a farewell to the festival from the 83 year-old, who did not attend the annual celebration. Critics seem to be having a hard time trying to decide what to make of Goodbye To Language ('Adieu Au Langage') described as a "70 minute cine-collage" by some and a film "full of moving paintings" by others.
Sound familiar? This reimagining of the birth of Jesus is both hauntingly beautiful and often quite funny, just the sort of surreal experience that is the hallmark of director Jean-Luc Godard's best work.
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Anna Karina owns the film wholly: She's a stripper in Paris who decides she wants a baby. She approaches her boyfriend (Jean-Claude Brialy), but he refuses. So she turns to another guy: his best friend.
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The film is a broad indictment of consumerism, politics, and pretty much everything about humanity in general. In essence it's a story about a couple who try to take a weekend vacation in France, only to be stymied at every turn by traffic, revolutionaries, and ultimately murder in the woods. It's basically a comedy, inasmuch as any film in which a civil war erupts and people get eaten by each other can be considered comedy.
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Plot-wise, this is refreshingly simple stuff. Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud), a spray can-toting socialist in 1960s Paris, spends his time rallying against all things American, when he falls head-over-heals for Madeleine (played by real-life yé yé singer Chantal Goya), a pretty but clueless brunette on the verge of commercial breakthrough (she's already burning up the charts in Japan). Broke and evicted, Paul moves in with Madeleine and her roommates, Elizabeth and Catherine (Marléne Jobert and Catherine-Isabelle Duport), where he continues his attempts to reconcile his disapproval of Madeleine's money-driven dreams with his deep-seated hankering to get it on with her.
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Jean-Luc Godard's oddball sci-fi spends a lot of time ostensibly bemoaning the dehumanizing effects of technology but doesn't make much of a case for it here. Sure, if we were dumb enough to literally allow a computer to rule our lives, we might get what we deserved. But modern life (and even reasonably forseeable life) has no signs of Godard's "outlawing of emotion" and oppression of individuality. In fact, these ideas are more prevalent than ever, which tends to horribly date Alphaville against its more thought-out successors like A Clockwork Orange and Blade Runner.
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All too quickly, though, the film goes straight into politics, as Jacques and Suzanne go to interview the manager of a sausage plant and are locked in with him by activists who call a strike. Here the film gets very talky, but also credibly presents the activists' concerns as they wonder what settlement the union will seek with the management. There are some effective sequences in which the strikers complain to Suzanne about working conditions in the plant, and Godard's technical skill (and interesting use of a cutaway set of the factory) makes even this preachy part watchable for a while.
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The abstract concept on which the film is based had merit, to dissect love into the following four categories: meeting, physical passion, quarrels, and reconciliation. These four universal truths would be revealed through three different couples: young, adult, and elderly. It is Edgar's (Bruno Putzulu) self-appointed task to capture these moments after a recent breakup, to define a central idea: "It's only when things are over that they make sense." Whether this project will end up a play, film, or opera remains undecided. The thesis is simple enough that, if played right, it could really hold sympathetic value for anyone.
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