A fascinating story. This is about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) in World War II, and how he attempts to help the Allies crack the Nazi’s enigma code as quickly as possible so as to save the maximum number of lives. On paper, this is prime Oscar consideration: it’s based on a true story, it’s set in WWII, and it is about a man overcoming adversity, given his sexual orientation and the fact that this was not the most accepting of times. I typically don’t have a strong connection with Oscar bait type movies; for example, I think The King’s Speech is a perfectly fine film, but I feel that literally every single other Best Picture nominee was a stronger selection that year. Comparatively speaking, The Imitation Game is much more than that, and I found myself completely taken aback with how enthralling this story is.
Who knew primitive computer programming could be so exciting?
Now this wasn’t a life story I knew that much about, and it has a great, attention grabbing introduction: Turing narrating, instructing you to pay attention. It’s a simple and effective technique, and I did just that for the entire two hour runtime. This film is a triple threat in that the writing, acting and editing are all on the same level with each other, and they are all extremely high quality. It’s a dynamite script that moves quickly, and it gives all of the actors sharp lines to deliver, Benedict Cumberbatch especially. This is a man that is without question the smartest man in the room, but being that he has no sense of humor, he very frequently comes off as being insensitively insulting without even trying. Being that he has no filter and because he is so deadpan, it is unexpectedly funny at times, which is a testament to how great the writing is, given that this is a completely serious subject. Turing is a fascinating man, and Cumberbatch brings him to life, playing a man who is more interested in cracking the enigma code for the challenge of it rather than any political alignment.
I know that Cumberbatch is moderately popular from Sherlock, but I believe this movie will truly put him on the map and make him a household name.
This movie is so many different things, and they all succeed: it works as a drama, it works as a thriller, it works as a biopic, it works as a period piece, it even has elements that work as an exciting spy film, and not in the monotonous way like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, i.e. doing a lot of paperwork. I really have no complaints, and while it may not be my favorite Oscar nomination, it’s my favorite Oscar film that classically competes during the award season. The script is witty, the emotional content is rousing, and the dialogue has a repartee that is rewarding to listen to. It moves at a great clip, and it is scored terrifically by Alexandre Desplat; he is nominated for two Oscars this year (this and Grand Budapest), and the music does a great job of emphasizing just how high the stakes are. The more I think about it, the more I like it, and this is just a wonderful film.
The Imitation Game (2014) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2014? See for yourself here.