With the football season over, the void left on my Sunday afternoons is now filled by one of my other passions: movies. I am not one to watch much on television; I did not even have cable for fifteen years. But, I am always up for watching a movie.
What better time to transition from football to movies than during Oscar season. Every February, I take the list of candidates for best movie, and try to watch as many as I can before the awards ceremony. Some are good, some are interesting, and some I simply do not understand why they were even made.
This year is no different, except that this year, I noticed that the synopses for some of these films parallel the descriptions that I might use for a few of the Steelers players… specifically, the players who would be considered the team’s MVP candidates.
First of all, there are those movies which were great, but truthfully, stand no chance at winning the Oscar for best picture. Likewise, there were Steelers players who had outstanding seasons, but were absolutely not going to win the MVP. For example:
- Maurkice Pouncey is essentially “The Imitation Game”: good, but most casual fans simply do not understand what he does.
- Likewise, David DeCastro is “The Theory of Everything”: heady & smart… but, most people could not care less.
- Lawrence Timmons is “Selma”: outstanding, but severely under-appreciated.
- Martavis Bryant is “The Grand Budapest Hotel”: one of my personal favorites, but there is no way that he beats out some of the others.
- And, Shaun Suisham is “Whiplash”: he kicked field goals… uh… hmmm.
Which leaves us with the main three: “Birdman”, “Boyhood”, “American Sniper”.
Before I get into those three front-runners, I would like to give a brief moment of recognition to William “The Lego Movie” Gay. I know that cartoons/family movies will never win the Oscar (if “Finding Nemo” did not win, then nothing ever will), which is a shame. “The Lego Movie” had everything that you would want in a movie: great script, stunning visuals, a heart-warming ending, and Will Farrell. Likewise, William Gay has been a whipping boy for Steelers fans for so many seasons, that most people would never consider him for the team MVP… which is a shame, because he went from being the third cornerback on the Steelers, to eventually lining up against opposing teams’ number one receiver. This feat is magnified when you consider that he was dealing with lackluster help from the safeties and almost no pressure created by the outside linebackers. Like trees, and dogs, and clogs… Gay was awesome.
Let’s get back to the front runners.
If there was ever a movie that paralleled Ben Roethlisberger, it would be “American Sniper.” It is a fantastic movie (compelling story, great direction)… but shrouded in controversy. Despite all of the distractions, in four out of five years, it would absolutely win best picture. However, this is indeed that fifth year. Likewise, Big Ben had the greatest season of his career (and we are all familiar with his controversies). But as good as his season was, there were two other Steelers who had even better seasons: Antonio “Boyhood” Brown and Le’Veon “Birdman” Bell.
“Boyhood” is a movie filmed over the span of twelve years, showing the main characters authentically age during that time period. It is a revolutionary piece of film-making; I have not seen anything like it before… and I may never see anything like it ever again. Similarly, Antonio Brown’s season was one for the ages. He ranked first in two of the three main receiving categories (receptions & yards) and ranked second in the third category (touchdowns). Simply, I have never witnessed a season like the one that Brown had, and while I hope to see many more seasons with similar results, I doubt that Brown will ever have a season this good ever again, much like Richard Linklater may never direct a movie as good as “Boyhood” again.
Which brings us to “Birdman”, a movie about an actor who fell from grace, but rediscovered himself on his journey back to the top. The humanistic side of “Birdman” is its draw; on some level we can all relate, because at one time or another, we all have been cast out, left out, and/or counted out. You are probably wondering when Bell was ever considered “out”, and the obvious choice would be when Eddie Lacy won the Rookie of the Year award. Everyone and their mother was questioning the Steelers for picking Bell instead of Lacy. Using a more recent example, Bell started off this past season very strong, but then teams seemed to figure him out. Bell then had to re-evaluate what he was doing, and the result was a strong end to the season.
The award goes to…
Much like how Le’Veon Bell was awarded the Steelers MVP, I truly believe that “Birdman” is going to win the Oscar for best picture. “Boyhood”, like Antonio Brown, was ground-breaking; and, “American Sniper”, like Big Ben, would likely win in any other year but this one. But the story of a fallen hero, recapturing his glory is the thing that dreams are made of… both in Hollywood and in the NFL.