A highlight for me, has been ' The Theory of Everything' with an exceptional ensemble cast, directed by James Marsh and featuring compelling performances by Eddie Redmayne as Steven Hawkings and Felicity Jones as his wife of twenty years. The film is based upon Hawkings former wife, Jane Wild's 'Travelling to Infinity; my life with Stephen and was adapted for the big screen by Anthony MacArten.The film is an absolute gem, taking the audience on a journey through Hawkings scientific and human achievements, as well as his struggle with motor neurone disease. It is an inspiring, masterful work, my only criticism, is that too many flashbacks in the final scenes of the film, tend to labour the point for the audience. Despite this,' The Theory of Everything' has to be a top contender in all categories in which it has been nominated, including the soundtrack, which subtly emphasised the emotional journey of the characters and heightened the impact of the story,with flair.
At least two extraordinary performances by women are up there amongst the potential winners in the best actress category. Julieann Moore, takes on the challenge of 'Still Alice' with poignant flair, moving the audience gently through an understated exploration of the journey deep into altzheimers. On the otherhand, Reese Witherspoon is very much "out there" in her feisty portrayal of Cheryl Strayed's memoir of her walk of self-rediscovery in 'Wild'. Here, Witherspoon, like Moore, thoroughly demostrates depth and insighfulness in developing and conveying extraordinary female characters and the circumstances they find themselves in, via their respective performances and skills.
Rosamund Pike's performance in the multi twist, psycho-thriller 'Gone Girl' was also impressive, but personally my pick is Julieann Moore.
'Boyhood' too was in many ways a masterful work, unique, in that it employed one actor's journey through every stage of the film's journey from young boy to young man.Though this method of character portrayal is exceptional, the film was not. It needed considerably more editing. I found myself looking at my watch and hoping it would end at certain points, but it did not. I went through one too may abusive alcoholic step-fathers, who could have been rolled into one. As such I found the film to be somewhat self indulgent on the director and writer Richard Drinklater's part. Here too though, the performances of the cast were solid and enduring in all senses of the word!
As for documentaries, 'Finding Vivian Meyer' was moving, compelling and unique, tracking the journey of discovering this unassuming, but mysterious multi faceted nannny and street photographer on the part of film-makers John Maloof and Charlie Siskel.
I was however, disappointed that 'Advanced Style' an uplifting documentary about aging fashionistas of New York, was not amongst nominations. This documentary has been a huge hit, running for weeks on end at the Nova, in Carlton, by public demand. Whilst the compelling, intenseTurkish, 'Wintersleep' and wonderful French romantic comedy Les Follies Bergerre missed out on nominations in the Foreign Film categories.
As for Cinematography and Costume Design Awards, 'Mr Turner' with its intensely Dickensian feel and look of Victorian times in England should be hard to beat, unless costumes are tipped at the post by 'Into the Woods' which may well also see Meryl Streep achieve a fourth Oscar and indeed the achievement of twenty nominations as a result of her epic performance as the Witch.