You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why Richard Linklater Deserves an Oscar for ‘Boyhood’

The most influential filmmaker of his generation is long overdue

Even though it’s only July, it’s hard to imagine watching a better-made movie in 2014 than “Boyhood.” Shot in secret over 12 years, director Richard Linklater captures the journey, and struggles, of growing up — his lead actor Ellar Coltrane ages in real time, from 6 to 18 onscreen. No other film has ever been made this way. Coltrane could have bailed from the project once he hit puberty, since even the strictest contract couldn’t keep him on a project for so long, but he stuck it through to the end (along with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, who play his parents).

For millennials and movie buffs, Linklater, who is 53, is one of the most influential directors of the arthouse boom of the early ’90s. When I recently interviewed Chris Evans, he said he modeled his upcoming directorial debut, “1:30 Train,” on “Before Sunset.” You could argue that Linklater, who was influenced by the French New Wave, is partially responsible for the talky way in which so many of our stories are now told (from “Blue Valentine” to the upcoming Daniel Radcliffe romantic comedy “What If” to HBO’s “Girls”).

Richard Linklater’s Films: Ranked from Best to Worst 

But because Linklater often tells more intimate stories, on smaller budgets, he’s never been nominated for an Oscar in the director category. Is it because Hollywood still thinks of Linklater as a niche filmmaker? Or maybe it’s because his movies aren’t always easy to categorize. Like the equally experimental Steven Soderbergh and the Coen brothers, who have been showered with awards, he’s dabbled in all genres of film, often working with his muse Ethan Hawke. Remember the micro-budgeted “Tape”? (It’s probably best to forget “The Newton Boys.”) Linklater’s best movies are “Dazed and Confused,” the “Before Sunrise” trilogy (especially “Before Sunset”), “Waking Life” and “School of Rock.” But “Boyhood” is his crowning achievement. No other American director has done a better job of capturing the verisimilitude of ordinary life.

For me, my favorite performance in “Boyhood” is from Patricia Arquette. She starts out in a happy marriage, survives a divorce and radiates so much love for her two children (the daughter in the film is played by Linklater’s own daughter Lorelei). And it’s breathtaking to see — in a business so horrified by wrinkles — a woman age on film, and only look stronger and more alive in the process.

The movie industry is understandably worried about this summer’s plummeting box office. “Boyhood” isn’t going to compete with “Transformers 4” or “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” but it’s an important reminder of why we go to the movies, for the stories. Only a filmmaker as soulful as Linklater would imagine a scenario where he spent 12 years unravelling a single narrative, and then actually go out and accomplish that. It seems premature to write about awards season in the summer, except that Linklater is so overdue. “Boyhood” shouldn’t just earn Linklater his first  director nomination. He should be the favorite to win.

More Film

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. Related Richard Linklater on Why [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to

    Ryan Reynolds Cancels Arm Surgery to Promote 'Deadpool 2' in China

    Ryan Reynolds canceled surgery on his arm to fly to China and charm “Deadpool” fans in Beijing on Sunday ahead of the franchise’s unexpected China theatrical debut. Just last week, Fox suddenly announced that a re-cut, PG-13 “Deadpool 2” would hit Chinese theaters starting this Friday – the first time the notoriously blood-splattered and foul-mouthed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content