At this year’s Oscars, the award for the Best Picture looks like being hotly contested between Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and Birdman starring Michael Keaton, but could a film about jazz drumming sneak in and win the coveted award?
Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is a thrilling tour de force. The film has already seen actor JKSimmons win a Golden Globe and a Bafta for his portrayal of bullying music teacher Fletcher. He is also tipped to win one of the five Oscars for which the film is nominated.
It’s a film that had trouble getting out of the starting blocks as director Chazelle struggled to get support for a film about jazz drumming. Initially the film was made in a short version. The main focus being the relationship of the two characters, teacher Fletcher and student, Andrew, played with aplomb by Miles Teller. There’s a quick fire intensity and interplay between the two, and the film becomes a gladiatorial battle, as the camera switches like a tennis match between the two main protagonists. A former musician, Chazelle says his film is based on a teacher he had when he was a drummer.
Some scenes are simple but highly effective. It’s the close attention to detail. The camera focuses on Fletcher’s perfect shiny black brogues as they approach the classroom. The sound of his rhythmic footsteps ricochets down the long corridor. You shrink in you chair and feel the impending doom.
A surprising subject for an Oscar winner perhaps but a film that’s excellently crafted and well worthy of accolade. It may just sneak in on the grand finale with a jubilant drum roll.