Manuel Betancourt

Oscar Challenge 2015: The Grand Budapest Hotel & Foxcatcher

February 17, 2015 · in Film

The Grand Budapest Hotel & Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Best Cinematography
Best Film Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Best Music (Original Score)
Best Production Design
Foxcatcher
Best Director
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Best Makeup & Hairstyling

The eponymous setting for this film sets the tone for what is a sprawling look at a dying breed of men.

One European, one American. One pastel-colored, one murky grey. One saccharine and light like a delicious dessert, one weighty and brooding like a mumbling wrestler. One named after a hotel: inviting, welcoming, expansive; the other named after an estate: reclusive, hostile, claustrophobic.

Many of the pairings I’ve made so far have made some sort of sense as they explored similar themes (masculinity, parenting) but I figured some more interesting pairings would also lead to some off-kilter discussions. So, while these two films exist at opposite ends of the spectrum along pretty much every single axis (though they do share a lack of substantial female roles…), they foreground things about the other I hadn’t really thought about before.

Grand Budapest Hotel
Foxcatcher

Take, for example, the fact that both are inspired by published books: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guiness found inspiration in the works of Stefan Zweig, an element which adds to the nested narrative of the film which begins with a reader paying her respects to the author whose novel traced the story of Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) at the eponymous hotel, a narrative made available to “the author as a young man” (Jude Law) by way of Zero, Gustave’s lobby boy’s reminisces. On the other hand, E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman found inspiration in the real life story of Mark Schultz’s then-unpublished autobiography about the tragic murder of his brother at the hands of their eccentric millionaire coach, an element that adds to the opaque storytelling that subsumes the narrative of the two brothers, the film never quite addressing many of the dazzling questions about motive the case calls out for.

Pit together, they also highlight the way both are torn between an exacting formal stylization and a fascination with bodily desire. Anderson, whose characters usually serve as marionettes and who seemingly exist only within the confines of his beautifully art directed dioramas here pulsate with pent up desires that push them over the edge while the tacit homoeroticism of Miller’s wrestling drama underscores the high/low culture juxtaposition DuPont discusses with his mother. Below the exacting frames of Anderson’s pastels and Miller’s drab grays lurks a transgressive desiring impulse that is as violent as it is inescapable. Sadly, while it heightens the drama and deepens the delightfully two-dimensional characters in Anderson’s puff pastry of a film, it further adds to the ambiguous murk that shades every frame in Miller’s slog of a film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel A

Foxcatcher C-