What it’s up for: Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay
Going into this movie, all I knew was that it had something to do with drums.
Oh boy, does it have something to do with drums.
The story is about a drummer, Andrew, (Miles Teller) in his first year at a top music conservatory in New York. He gets the opportunity to work with one of the renowned instructors at the school (J.K. Simmons) whose…unique…style of teaching brings challenges to the aspiring musician.
J.K. Simmons is SCARY in this movie. This is not your momma’s Farmers Insurance commercial. His illustrative use of swear words is absolutely necessary to his character but exceeds anything I’ve ever witnessed. He’s a completely irredeemable character but SO good to watch.
Miles Teller also does a such fantastic job. The effort he put into honing his drumming skills should get its own reward. His emotional range reaches all sorts of highs and lows and completely drives the plot.
The remarkable film editing accomplishes so much just by editing a film with so much music. Drumming in particular creates so many beats that need special attention. If you edit a millisecond off of a beat of a drum, it’s noticeable. On top of that, a particular drumming sequence seals this film’s nomination for film editing. *semi-SPOILER ALERT* Andrew tries to prove himself with an extended drumming solo at one point (you’ll know it when you see it). When I say “extended”, I mean EXTENDED. It’s several minutes long and seems like one complete sequence…thanks to the power of film editing! Apparently, they shot the sequence over the course of three days and you cannot tell in the slightest.
The sound mixing also plays a crucial role in a movie about music. There’s not a lot of score, but when the score is present, it doesn’t overwhelm the actors and action. Meanwhile, the music that the performers play shouts from the screen and brings life and emotion to the story. The combination of these two elements brings a unique cadence to the flow of the film.
The director (Damien Chazelle) also wrote the screenplay. There’s a little bit of weirdness surrounding the fact that it has been put in the adapted category, but for our purposes, that’s irrelevant. The screenplay feels independent and quirky. It flows differently than most screenplays and doesn’t rely heavily on dialogue. It comes across quite well though and twists and turns in some ways you wouldn’t expect.
I enjoyed watching Whiplash, although it could be a little slow at times. I have a brand new appreciation for drumming, though. When I listen to music in the car, I hear the drumming more clearly. I’d recommend it once it hits Redbox.