I’ve been out of the theater, the experience complete, for a good five hours and change. Yet I’m still digesting all I saw, all that one of America’s greatest directors, Richard Linklater, put on the big screen to be seen in a 165-minute new American classic.
I don’t toss that word around lightly. I watched American Hustle last year. I was bold enough then, and I’m bold enough now, to say, simply and truthfully: That movie sucked. So if Boyhood wasn’t any good, I’d tell you.
And it isn’t good. It’s great, a sure best picture contender.
Everyone who watches Boyhood will experience it. And everyone who has an experience will have a slightly different experience than everyone else has, because we all go into the film with our own previous life experience as our guides, and it is those memories, and our memories of the time period covered (2002-2013) that ground Boyhood for each moviegoer.
I am a big brother. Have been since I was four years old. In 2002, my littlest brother, James, was about to turn 7, the same age as the great Ellar Coltrane’s Mason, and my little sister, the beautiful Ms. Katie, was about to turn 10, the same age as Mason’s sister Samantha (played with tenderness, skill, wit, and heart by the director’s daughter). In them, I saw my siblings. In the people around them, I saw myself.
Boyhood gets so much right. The advice given to both Mason and Samantha about life itself reminds me of the same advice I doled out, given to me years before. The brother-sister relationship. Even the video games these kids (okay, let’s be fair, the video games that Mason plays) are perfectly rendered here, so that you say, Yes, that is exactly what it was like!
Linklater’s best directing Oscar awaits him in February. If Boyhood doesn’t win best editing, then I don’t know what best editing means. If Arquette isn’t nominated for best actress, I would be utterly shocked. And if Boyhood isn’t in the running for best picture, then I want to know: What was the point of increasing the number of eligible movies from five to ten? Not only should this movie be nominated, if there is any justice in the academy’s vote, it should also win.
That means, just this once, Mr. Weinstein, let someone else come to the party. Back off promoting the rest of your films the way you’ve backed off promoting Snowpiercer (anyone who knows movies hopefully sees what I just wrote as a subtle dig). Admit that you’ve been bested, sir, because I’m telling you right now–you have!
Boyhood stars Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater. Run time: 165 min.