The Academy Awards are just days away—which means it’s time to buckle down and really get to know this year’s Best Picture contenders. Today’s deep-dive: Wes Anderson’s Stefan Zweig-inspired creation, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which asked us why we want to be a lobby boy.
Name: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Tweetable description: A pastel-colored dreamscape about the adventures of a hotel concierge and his lobby boy. Involves, paintings, pastries, and L’Air de Panache.
Movie Math: The Grand Budapest Hotel = (Rushmore + The Royal Tenenbaums + The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou + The Darjeeling Limited + Fantastic Mr. Fox + Moonrise Kingdom) x (The Shop Around the Corner + To Be or Not To Be)
Release date: Limited release: March 7; wide release: March 28
DVD release date: June 17, 2014
Run time: 100 minutes
Box office: First weekend (wide): $8.5 million; total domestic (so far): $59.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92 percent.
What Owen Gleiberman said: “But now I’ve had my Wes Anderson breakthrough—or maybe it’s that he’s had his. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a marvelous contraption, a wheels-within-wheels thriller that’s pure oxygenated movie play.” A-
Best Line: “There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. He was one of them. What more is there to say?” —Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), speaking of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), echoing an earlier line of M. Gustave’s
Worst Line: “That f—king faggot! He’s a concierge.” — Dmitri (Adrien Brody) about Gustave H, after the revelation that Gustave H has been bequeathed “Boy With Apple.”
Number of Oscar nods: The Grand Budapest Hotel tied with Birdman for the most nominations received by a film this year with nine apiece. The film got nods for: Best Picture, Best Director (Wes Anderson), Best Cinematography (Robert Yeoman), Best Original Screenplay (Screenplay by Anderson; Story by Anderson & Hugo Guinness), Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier), Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat), Best Film Editing (Barney Pilling), Best Production Design (Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock), Best Costume Design (Milena Canonero)
The movie’s Oscar history: Though beloved by critics for many years, the Academy has only sparingly anointed Anderson in the past. He’s been nominated three times before, and has never won: twice for the screenplays of The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, and once for Best Animated Feature Film for Fantastic Mr. Fox. While some of those nominated for their work on the film are first-time nominees, that’s not so in the case of composer Alexandre Desplat. He’s nominated twice this year, with six other nominations in previous years. Meanwhile, production designer Adam Stockhausen was nominated last year for 12 Years a Slave, and this is set decorator Anna Pinnock’s fifth nomination; she’s also nominated this year for Into the Woods. The movie’s most successful nominee is costume designer Milena Canonero, who has won three times already, most recently for Marie Antoinette. Her first win came in 1976 for Barry Lyndon. Mark Coulier, nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling, won in 2012 for The Iron Lady.
What it’s won thus far: The film claimed the award for Best Picture, Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes in a surprise win over Birdman, and also won the Best Comedy prize at the Critics’ Choice Awards. Most recently, the Writers Guild of America piled on to the accolades Anderson has been receiving for the film’s screenplay by giving the movie its original screenplay prize. Grand Budapest also won accolades for its screenplay from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. In total the film picked up five BAFTAs, the most of any film at those awards.
Why it should win: Though Anderson’s work certainly isn’t universally appealing; no one can deny that he has an unimpeachable vision, which makes him one of the most iconic filmmakers of our time. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a splendid articulation of that vision. Anderson built a gorgeous, funny, detailed world in which it is a pleasure to spend time. It’s a film that is both quintessentially Wes Anderson—hey, even Bill Murray’s in it!—and able to win over those who aren’t inherently Anderson fans (see Gleiberman’s review). If there’s a work for which Anderson should be awarded, it’s this one. And while it is a comedy that takes place in a fictional country, it does allude to Nazism and end on a heartbreaking note that gives it a surprising heft. (As Anderson told Matt Zoller Seitz, “I was hoping it would be more of a sad comedy. But with a ski chase.”)
Why it shouldn’t win: Some could make the case that, despite the film’s sadness, it sticks in the memory as lighthearted, pretty, and not-too-serious; ultimately, not Oscar fare. It also came out nearly a year ago, making it a choice that doesn’t really feel of the moment. Finally, as grand as Budapest is, you could easily make the case that the Academy should have honored Anderson for his earlier work—back when his movies weren’t so easily parodied.
Vegas Odds: 50/1, according to Las Vegas Sports Betting.