Another Year in Film, Another Path to Best Picture

I started a new tradition a couple of years ago whereby I connect all of the year’s nominees for Best Picture via the actors starring in them. A twisted take on the popular (and now defunct?) Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Game, I limit the kinds of connections that I can make. For instance, I cannot connect nominated films through anyone but actors (no directors, screenwriters, producers, foley artists, etc), nor can I use TV shows or film appearances wherein actors play (versions of) themselves. And no matter how tempting they may seem (in order to get the job done more quickly and succinctly), I restrict myself from borrowing actors’ romantic relationships with each other. Also, I try to do as much mapping as possible without turning to IMDb. I will admit that I had to research some actors’ filmographies, namely those of Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons, both of whom have been in everything.

Without further ado, here are the Academy Award nominees for the Best Picture of 2014:

  • The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s in The Other Boleyn Girl with Eddie Redmayne, who’s in
  • The Theory of Everything with Felicity Jones, who’s in The Invisible Woman with Ralph Fiennes, who’s in
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel with Edward Norton,* who’s in
  • Birdman with Zach Galifianakis, who’s in The Hangover with Bradley Cooper, who’s in
  • American Sniper with Sienna Miller, who’s in Foxcatcher with Channing Tatum, who’s in 10 Years with Oscar Isaac, who’s in A Most Violent Year with David Oyelowo, who’s in
  • Selma with Carmen Ejogo, who’s in Away We Go with Josh Hamilton, who’s in Freak Talks About Sex with Steve Zahn, who’s in Reality Bites with Ethan Hawke, who’s in
  • Boyhood with Patricia Arquette, who’s in Stigmata with Gabriel Byrne, who’s in Little Women with Kirsten Dunst, who’s in Spider-Man with J.K. Simmons, who’s in
  • Whiplash with Miles Teller, who, in order to bring us back to the first nominee, is in Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman, who’s in Stoker with Matthew Goode, who’s in
  • The Imitation Game!

Did I go about this all the wrong way? Do you have a less circuitous route between or among the eight nominated films? Leave your directions in the comments below.

* I previously drew my map connecting The Grand Budapest Hotel to Birdman via Bill Murray and Naomi Watts (stars of St. Vincent), completely forgetting that Birdman actor Edward Norton was amongst all those people in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

News Clip: Before Midnight Can’t Come Soon Enough

The ending of Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004) presents a litmus test, a method for separating the romantics from the skeptics in the audience. Being a logical person, however, I have always thought Jesse’s satisfied smile as he answers, “I know” to Celine’s playful admonishment, “Honey, you’re gonna miss that plane” meant their remaining together—perhaps even in Paris—was a sure thing.

Before Sunset is one of those rare “franchise” films in that it’s actually better than the originator of the series, Before Sunrise (Linklater, 1995). The later film, edited so that Jesse and Celine’s chance reunion over the course of one afternoon unravels in approximate real-time, is wistful in tone and very adult in theme. By virtue of their having a history (and our being privy to it), it’s much more intimate than Sunrise. And who could resist the opportunity to see the idealistic twentysomethings (who, as strangers, once shared a formative romantic night together in Vienna) all grown-up and cynical, processing that rendezvous and how it has shaped their lives since. That’s why, combined with the supposed ambiguity of Before Sunset‘s conclusion, we fans have hoped that director Richard Linklater and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy would bring these vivid characters back to the big screen again.

Aside from wanting to fulfill their own creative energies and desires to shoot another picture about Jesse and Celine, I would imagine that the creators also want to please the fans who can’t let the characters go. Like many others, I have followed the possibility of a third film coming to fruition, reading everything from an online interview over here to a newspaper profile over there. Recently, everyone involved has kept the details of the (pre)production close to the vest, only ever going so far as to say something to the effect of “we’re working on it, we’re working on the script.” Well, good news, friends: they’ve done us even better by finishing the shoot just yesterday! Mike Fleming of Deadline New York reports that Before Midnight wrapped production in Greece Tuesday night (I guess Hawke’s title suggestion, Before We Go Crazy, didn’t make the cut). Fleming quotes a written statement from the co-writers, which offers nothing in terms of the story or plot of the new film. In other words, it’s still unclear if Jesse and Celine have stayed together since Paris or are reconciling yet again. Hell, they may have even dated and split up in the interim. We have to wait a little bit longer to find out.

But what a coup, huh? How marvelous that everyone managed to fool us all into thinking that the film hadn’t even gone into production yet. Here’s to a swift post-production and not-too-distant release date!