If 2013 was an impressive year for Texans working in Hollywood—and it was, what with the success of Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and indie faves like Before Midnight, Mud, and Upstream Color—2014 may have eclipsed it: Two of our most beloved homegrown directors, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater, made career-defining work. And, as of last night, they’ve each received major awards for the first time in their career.
The Golden Globes were good to Anderson—whose The Grand Budapest Hotel took home the award for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy—and especially good to Linklater’s Boyhood, who won for both Best Motion Picture, Drama, and Best Director. (Star Patricia Arquette also won Best Supporting Actress.)
That’s an impressive haul for filmmakers who’ve long been critical favorites, but for whom major awards recognition has been elusive: Linklater received his first Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay last year (a nomination he split with co-stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and which he didn’t win), and had never previously been nominated for a Golden Globe. Anderson had previously seen a Golden Globe nomination for Moonrise Kingdom, as well as a Best Animated Feature nomination at the Oscars for The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and a couple of screenplay nominations. They’ve sparingly been bridesmaids, in other words—and, until last night, never brides.
It’s a nice honor for Anderson, whose films have a small-ish, but definite, audience, and no trouble reaching it—he’s on his way to becoming the Texas Woody Allen, in some ways—but for Linklater and Boyhood, it’s probably more like a harbinger of things to come. Which is to say: Oscars.
Linklater has several great films in his oeuvre, but Boyhood is a towering achievement. The story of the film has been well-told at this point, shot over twelve years with the same cast, giving a lovely, contemplative depiction of one type of Texas boyhood/motherhood/girlhood/manhood (in roughly that order). It’s the sort of film that has few peers, at least in terms of how it was created or the effect that it achieves, and Hollywood is rightly impressed with it. (It’s unfortunate in some ways that other significant achievements, like Ava Duvernay’s Selma, find themselves up against Linklater’s masterpiece during this awards season.)
The Golden Globes aren’t necessarily an indication of what’ll happen at the Oscars, but they’re a decent weathervane, and it looks awfully good for Boyhood and Linklater to take the top prizes there. (Arquette, similarly, is probably a safe bet.) Currently at the Irish gambling bookmaker PaddyPower—the only site at the moment to offer odds on the Oscars—Boyhood enjoys its status as the heaviest of heavy favorites, with a moneyline of -1600—meaning that one would have to bet $1,600 in order to win a hundred bucks back. (The Grand Budapest Hotel, along with The Imitation Game and Birdman, sits in second place at +1200, meaning that a hundred dollar bet can win you $1,200.)
In other words, it seems like Boyhood’s is more or less anointed as the Best Picture winner at the Academy Awards in March—and while it doesn’t appear anyone is offfering odds on the Best Director award, Linklater should probably prepare a speech.
All of this makes for an especially fascinating cap to Linklater’s career (although, at only 54, there’s reason to believe he’s probably got a few more decades worth of movies in him), because Boyhood isn’t typical Oscar bait. It’s easy to imagine a world in which Linklater might have sought recognition and made, say, a historical film or a biopic. (Four of the five last Best Picture winners could be described as such.) But his career has been based on experimentation, life-sized Texas stories, working with unconventional actors, low-budget work shot in Texas, and movies made with the participation of Ethan Hawke. There’s something very gratifying about seeing Hollywood come to Linklater, who’s still making Linklater-style movies out in his home state, and recognize that he’s done something remarkable.
(Photo of Linklater and daughter Lorelei by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)