My Favorite Moments in the 2014 Best Picture Nominees: The Imitation Game
Our next Best Picture nominee is The Imitation Game.
Here’s how Oscar season works: from mid-December until mid-January, I go over what will and what won’t be nominated. Opinions are formed. It can get heated. Then they announce the nominations, and from then until Oscar night, it’s all about what’s going to win. And more opinions are formed. The problem is that nowhere during this do we actually stop and appreciate the films. They’re always seen through the lens of competition.
So what I do every year is, after all the analysis is done, and all the opinions are dealt with, I stop, take a minute, throw it all away, and just stop to appreciate the movies. I watch all the nominees again, and I pick my favorite moments (or elements) from each of them. The ultimate goal being to remind everyone that once you take away all the competition, the awards, arbitrary decisions of what film is better, what we’re left with is great cinema. And that’s what it’s all about.
Here are my favorite moments from The Imitation Game:
5. It’s about Enigma
This is one of those stories that I was always somewhat aware of. I’ve always been fascinated by these espionage / code breaking stories. I’ve always been fascinated by code breaking in general. And this was one of those stories that was tailor made to be turned into a movie. And I love that. I love that one of the most important aspects of World War II was finally put to film. And then you also get the Alan Turing aspect, where you see just how fucked up his life was and the shit he had to go through. But there’s something wonderful about this being about a group of people who got together to break a code that essentially won the war is so great.
4. Benedict Cumberbatch
He’s terrific in this. It’s a shame he’s almost an afterthought in the Best Actor race, because he’s wonderful. This moment especially, where he just loses his shit, thinking about how they were gonna take “Christopher” away from him if he didn’t agree to undergo the treatment. He said that he actually had an emotional breakdown while filming this scene because he got so into it. It’s an astonishing performance.
3. “You said to do it in under five.”
It’s not so much this scene, though the scene is great. The scene is very standard, as biopics go. Mostly I’m impressed in the role and the fact that they played up the part about a woman being so integral in breaking this code. Because to me, even more interesting than Alan Turning being secretly gay in a time when homosexuality was treated like witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, the idea of a woman getting involved and being just as qualified as the men, in an era when women were taken so lightly in society is the more interesting storyline. I don’t think they established this as much as they could have, which is understandable, but still, I loved every moment where they showed how Keira was just as integral and just as capable and intelligent as all of the men. I’m so proud when movies do this, because I want there to be truly strong female roles out there. Not the lip service ones people pretend are there, or the ones where women are doing action. I want the ones where women are treated fairly based on skill and intelligence. There’s that moment where she shows up and is like, “I’m here for the test, sorry I’m late.” And the guy’s like, “Who helped you solve this puzzle?” And doesn’t want to let her in. And Cumberbatch essentially lets her in because he doesn’t care that he’s a woman. He’s looking for someone capable. And then of course she makes everyone look foolish by taking an impossible task and completing it. This is a strong woman. And movies need more of this.
2. “Now for the hard part… keeping it a secret.”
This moment is incredible. They’ve finally broken Enigma, and now they know the position of all the German ships in the Atlantic. Problem is… they can’t do anything about it. Because they know an attack is coming, but what happens if all of a sudden, a surprise attack is thwarted? They know Enigma has been broken, reconfigure it, and all of that work has been for naught and they have to start from square one. So the result is, they have to let some people die in order to keep their secret and help the Allies win in the long run. It’s a great scene. It gives you the complexities of what was happening and takes what would have been a black and white “great, we broke it now we won” narrative and shows it for how complex the real history was.
1. This scene
The wonderful thing about this scene is how it starts so innocently. The women are sitting together, and the men are sitting together, and it’s clear two of them are gonna be set up to go home together, and they do their analyses of the scene. “She wants me to come over. She looked at me fifteen minutes ago and hasn’t looked back since.” “He’s gonna come over. I looked at him fifteen minutes ago and haven’t looked back since.” And then they get to the same table, and we get the joke about Alan’s social ineptitude, being unable to pick up an obvious flirting set up. And he gets kicked by both Keira and Matthew Goode. And then as they flirt, there’s that wonderful revelation where you realize, this wasn’t just a nice scene that has nothing to do with the plot, this is gonna help us solve everything. This scene lost Germany the war. Because he realizes exactly how to break Enigma based on repeated words. This is the scene that makes the movie (and is the scene that should actually win this movie Adapted Screenplay tomorrow night). Favorite scene in the film.