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The Theory of Everything

Nominated for Best Picture at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Actress (Felicity Jones) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay (Anthony McCarten) at the 87th Annual Awards

Nominated for Best Original Score (Johann Johannsson) at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

I really am not a fan of “The Theory of Everything”, and I believe its bunch of Oscar nominations represent the perfect example of what’s wrong with the Academy Awards. Listen, some readers my be surprised to learn this. But I DO NOT find the Oscars to be the true barometer of what great film work truly is. It is, however, the culmination of the cinematic season, I wouldn’t miss the show for the world–and they even occasionally get things right. But I do not believe that they’ll be getting it right if they choose to award Eddie Redmayne Best Actor, at the February 22nd ceremony. Nothing against Mr. Redmayne, he’s a fine performer, and his work here (with what he’s given) is strong. However, the highest level of acting shouldn’t be expected to always center on sickness or death. Last year’s Best Actor recipient played a character eventually succumbing to AIDS, and the Best Actress winner was mentally ill. And among this year’s frontrunners are a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s and Redmayne playing a physically disintegrating Stephen Hawking. The more nuanced work of Michael Keaton or Benedict Cumberbatch is much more impressive to me, and I wish more Academy voters felt the same way. So, I’ll be rooting for Keaton, even though I’ve been fond of Redmayne’s work more than once in the past.

Also, if you want to truly learn something about Hawking’s life, and his work as a theoretical physicist, watch the terrific Errol Morris 1991 documentary, “A Brief History of Time”. Or read a damn book about him. But don’t count on the gooey, sentimental “love story” of “The Theory of Everything” to be your “go to” guide. You can do much better than this glorified, television, disease-of-the-week biography. The film is shameless Oscar bait, and I find it laughable when anyone calls this “great” film-making. Shouldn’t a movie about one of the greatest minds of our time, be a bit brainier itself? Do you really believe that Redmayne is something special for playing this flamboyant role? He should maybe win an Oscar some day—but not for this. Ditto Felicity Jones as Hawking’s long-suffering wife Jane. She’s fine, but hardly exceptional. And it gets me a bit angry, when I think of the many superb performances that are ignored, when voters shower praise on a soap opera about a genius, masquerading as top flight art. And don’t get me started on this getting a Best Picture slot over films as excellent as “Foxcatcher” and “A Most Violent Year”. You want to be moved? Experience one of those. You want to exclaim “awww, how sweet”, than be my guest and suffer through “The Theory of Everything”. It’s not unwatchable, but it’s shallow and predictable.

Grade:  C

next review up:  “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

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2 comments on “The Theory of Everything

  1. Good review Mark. Redmayne and Jones were good here. However, I felt as if they deserved a better movie to work with.

    • Thanks, Dan. It really is a simplistic handling, of what must have been a very complicated relationship. I’m suspect of the cinematic maturity of anyone that found this to be “great film-making”. Not that it will win Best Picture, but even the nomination is ridiculous. ML

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