Monday, February 23, 2015

My LAFCA Awards Presentation for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Considering that Boyhood was my pick for 2014's best film, you can imagine that I was disappointed that it didn't win Best Picture last night at the Oscars. My other great sadness, however, came from the fact that Wes Anderson didn't walk away with Best Original Screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel, although that film did win four other prizes. (And, yes, Boyhood was also nominated in that category.)

I decided to reprint my speech I wrote for Anderson when I gave out the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Screenplay prize to him back in early January. This encapsulates what I love about the film....

The Grand Budapest Hotel is about the stories we tell. Filled with characters who are authors or poets or simply old men reflecting on their lives over dinner, Wes Anderson’s film is consumed with the passage of time and how we chronicle it -- how we make sense of it through narratives, or personas that we invent for ourselves. Divided into novelistic chapters and spread out over different decades, The Grand Budapest Hotel may be Anderson’s most ambitious work yet. It is certainly his most poignant.  

But that’s not what you think of first. What you remember about The Grand Budapest Hotel is how funny it is. Working from a story he co-wrote with Hugo Guinness, Anderson has given us one of his richest creations in Gustave, a concierge so impeccably elegant he never suspects how ridiculous he is. Played to comedic perfection by Ralph Fiennes, Gustave embodies many of the traits we have come to love in Anderson’s films: that proud sense of individualism; that defiantly optimistic view of the world that no amount of cruel reality can squash.   

This is Anderson’s eighth feature, and one of his very best. If this film were a book, it would be a page-turner: part thriller, part war drama, part comedy, part romantic fable. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a splendid confection, an exquisite fantasy -- and to quote one of the character’s assessment of Gustave, Wes Anderson sustains the illusion with a marvelous grace.  

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating our Best Screenplay winner, Mr. Wes Anderson.