My Favorite Moments in the 2014 Best Picture Nominees: The Theory of Everything
Our next Best Picture nominee is The Theory of Everything.
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 Theory of Everything:
5. This scene
This is a great moment. Another (we’ll talk about that in a bit) scene for Felicity Jones to showcase how underrated her performance is, but also a really great moment. Coming after the scene where she decides to go through with the tracheotomy that will prevent him from ever speaking again. And he’s defiantly refusing to learn the chart, which will be his main way of communicating. And there’s this heartbreaking moment where she steadfastly keeps trying to get him to keep going, and he looks at her with such a painful look, where you know that all he wants in the world is to be able to talk to her. That moment really stuck with me.
4. The direction
I didn’t think much of the direction when I first watched this movie. But actually, it’s really good. Marsh managed to get a lot of really terrific images in this movie. And the color palette is really good. Honestly, if you asked me which film was directed better between this and The Imitation Game before a week ago, I’d have said that I wasn’t blown away by either, but probably The Imitation Game. But it’s actually this one. I wouldn’t have been upset at all if Marsh was nominated for Best Director. This is a really well-made film, and I have to say, the direction struck me much more strongly the second time I saw it than the first time.
3. “Play a game with me or else I will leave.”
Felicity Jones is so underrated in this movie. She’s playing opposite Stephen Hawking, so whatever she did was not going to get the notice. But she’s great. I love how she played it. It’s personified in this moment. She finds out he has an illness and refuses to let him sit around and feel sorry for himself. And she plays off his feelings for her by making him play that game of croquet he offered earlier in their courtship. And then he ends up turning the tables in a way by showing her exactly why he’s acting this way, and she stands there, completely stone-faced, not letting it get to her or affect her. And then she follows him back to his dorm, in a nice gesture of, ‘I don’t care whatever it is, I’m staying with you.” It’s a great scene, and really shows how great Jones is in this movie.
2. The wheelchair scene
This scene is so perfect. Not a single word is spoken. They’re sitting across the table from each other, then Jones gets up, and wheels the chair over. And he looks over at it, coming to terms with the fact that he won’t be able to walk again and will be confined to this thing for the rest of his life. Then he slowly puts himself into it, and the scene ends with this shot. It’s perfect. A perfect example of how to make a scene with nothing but visuals.
1. The chemistry
It’s funny that in a movie about physics, my favorite part is the chemistry. But Jones and Redmayne are so good together, that’s really what makes this movie sing. This movie is about them, so that’s essential, but they do a terrific job of it. You really feel the chemistry there, much more so than you’d think was actually involved. But either way, it was really nice seeing them in scenes together, and I found myself much more invested in those scenes than with the illness scenes.