WOW! What a year for winners and losers! The HFPA had two shots at naming Best Picture, but neither Golden Globe winners, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, concurred with the Academy’s choice, Birdman.
No one expected Wes Anderson’s idiosyncratic The Grand Budapest Hotel to win, having been screened for members in early February of the year, but obviously it made an impression. The film eventually earned $175 million worldwide and was Wes Anderson’s most successful project, the culmination of a 20-year career that began with Bottle Rocket, and included Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom.
Give him credit for coming up with the most unusual titles imaginable and never disappointing his audience or critics. The film might’ve been inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, but it was Wes Anderson all the way. The two central characters are Gustave H, the concierge at a five-star hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who became his most trusted friend. The film covers the period between World War I and II, and Anderson used three aspect ratios, 1.37, 1.85, and 2.35:1, to shoot the film, one for each timeline.
The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, and the battle for an enormous family fortune – all set against the backdrop of a chaotically changing Europe. Ralph Fiennes plays Gustave H, and newcomer Tony Revolori plays Zero. Fiennes’ Golden Globe-nominated performance was one for the ages, but he didn’t win. Michael Keaton in Birdman did. The rest of the cast was one that only Wes Anderson could muster: Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Mathieu Amalric, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Léa Seydoux, and Fisher Stevens.
The movie was filmed entirely on location in Germany, and at Studio Babelsberg. One of the principal locations was the defunct Görlitz Department Store, a huge Jugendstil department store with a giant atrium, which served as the atrium lobby of the hotel. The hotel itself was actually a ten-foot handmade model devised by Anderson. Not surprisingly, the film would win the Academy Award for production design.
Competing for Best Comedy or Musical besides Grand Budapest and Birdman were Into the Woods, St. Vincent and Pride. Other nominees besides Ralph Fiennes and Michael Keaton for the Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical were Joaquin Phoenix for Inherent Vice, Bill Murray for St. Vincent, and Christoph Waltz for Big Eyes. Surprisingly none of the cast of Grand Budapest, nor any comedy for that matter, were nominated for acting supporting roles.