Boyhood (2014) and why Patricia Aquette won an Oscar

I'm not a potato-coach type of person so when it comes to holiday, especially the long one like in Christmas and New Year, I often find myself wandering around the house, looking to do something to kill the time. Watching movie is one of the best solution. Although I call myself picky in watching movies, most of the time I have no options but simply to watch anything I haven't watched.

Boyhood is one of the movie I've been delayed to watch. Mostly I'm INTO Oscar-winning or festival movies but I skimmed Boyhood a year ago and found nothing that triggered curiosity so I put it back in my DVD box and never check it until yesterday.

I recognized Patricia Arquette from CSI: Cyber. I knew she won an Oscar in Boyhood. Her IMDB page mentioned that she has starred in several movies and TV series but they're not the big ones except for CSI. So I was curious how her performance was in Boyhood that made her rewarded with an Oscar.

Boyhood Movie Poster
Boyhood Movie Poster
Boyhood arguably resembles a documentary. It was a documentary of its actors, especially the main star Ellar Coltrane. The most magnificent thing about Boyhood is that it took 12 years (of slave) of completion - which of course was one of the longest span for a movie production. So the actors didn't just age in movie using make-up effects but they DID in real life indeed. I salute the director Richard Linklater for 12 years of dedication in beautifully sewing together a story of a family. The method and process were remarkable but does Boyhood deserve to be rewarded with an Oscar?

Boyhood expounded the coming age process of a boy character named Mason, played by Coltrane. Mason possessed a gloomy, introvert and retrospective personality which were probably developed by his broken family background. His mother, Olivia (played by Arquette) had married several times to various men (most of them were jerks). These husbands often negatively criticized Mason, except his biological father, Mason Sr (played by Ethan Hawke). Mason always look up to his father because he cared for his children. Mason had an older sister named Samantha (played by the director's daughter Lorelei Linklater) and they were casually close.

For nearly three hours watching this movie, I was expecting a special circumstance to occur. A climax, something that would alter the characters and the plot, from a daily life of a broken home kid into a different situation. I was wrong. The story went plainly peaceful, showing how Mason grew up and facing some unassuming problems like girlfriends and finding himself. I was expecting a mental-breakup, sexual abuse, drugs over-usage or something that was common in broken-home child's life but then again I found none. Mason grew up just fine except still having a little bit excessive gloominess.

Arquette's acting was not too special. I was expecting more sadness, depression and broken heart. It was probably because Olivia had a strong character. There were some emotional traits, but not too intense nor dramatic which obviously became my main reason to raise the question over Arquette's Oscar. One might argue that her acting was natural but in my opinion not good enough for an Oscar. Olivia character was utterly "under-control", she cried when she left her husbands, she smiled on Mason's graduation and angered with a little portion of sadness and disappointment when his son left the apartment for college. Some of these response even fairly predictive. Any actress could played as Olivia, even added more emotional depths. Eventually I concluded that Arquette's reward was mainly due to her passionate dedication in the lengthy film-making process.

So is Boyhood really that bad after all?

No. I think the Oscar should really go for someone else, an actor who stole my attention on his debut film which funnily took 12 years for release. Ellar Coltrane himself. His acting was not just passionate but rich and deep. Boyhood is a movie about coming age and nobody is better to deliver this idea but Coltrane himself. For example we can notice the changes simply from his various hairstyles throughout the films from military bald into emo and Shaggy-hippie. The way Coltrane consistently presented Mason's personality was also remarkable considering the time span of the production process which certainly also alter Coltrane's own character. From my point of view, Coltrane succeeded to blend his own coming age process to the character he was playing: Mason. This added extra organic reality, making Mason more vivid than fictional. You can really experience the ongoing process. It was awkwardly thoughtful. He did a real good job in Boyhood which made me favor him over Arquette for an Oscar.

Coltrane's haircuts varied throughout the movie.
These are good samples to symbolize the gradual alteration process of Coltrane's character: Mason
Source image:

Boyhood is a good movie. The story itself was simple, innocent but less likely to be interesting. It's the kind of movie that make you think. When watching it, I often get carried away with the characters and the story because I had experienced some of the events shown in the film. I had several "Ah!" moments. You might probably feel the same. But if you're looking for a pure entertainment, you should look for another movie because  you might find Boyhood is boring and tiring to watch.

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