"The Imitation Game"
"The Imitation Game," a biopic about British World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, won ovations when it played at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals earlier this fall, establishing itself as the kind of tasteful, well-crafted crowd-pleaser that often goes on to win best picture.
The hundreds of motion picture academy members who nearly filled the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Saturday afternoon to see the movie sure seemed to love it too, cheering loudly when the credits rolled and, later, when actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley took the stage.
"There have been better turnouts but not better reactions," one academy member reported. Added another: "This might be a hard one to beat ... unless people don't want to give another Oscar to a Weinstein period movie about a socially awkward Brit."
Indeed, the movie bears a few similarities to "The King's Speech," the 2011 best picture winner. And "The Imitation Game" also must contend with another 2014 movie about a British genius overcoming adversity -- the Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything."
Reviews for both of these films have been fine -- "Imitation" sits at 68 on the review aggregator site Metacritic, while "Theory" rests at 72 -- suggesting that neither will win many critics prizes.
But judging from the reaction at the Goldwyn on Saturday, that might not matter. No movie has played better with the right people this fall than "The Imitation Game." It will be a force at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes.