Why “Whiplash” was the best movie of 2014

Why Whiplash was the best movie of 2014

BY DAKOTA SMITH (’15)

It was close between “Birdman” (or “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”) and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” but “Whiplash” won out in the end. It’s about a young, upcoming drummer named Andrew, played by Miles Teller, who wants to be remembered when he dies.

He attends a college in New York for the best musicians. There he encounters his worst nightmare: a jazz instructor, named Terrence Fletcher, who has a great reputation in New York.

He’s played by J.K. Simmons, who is great at playing a nice, understanding side which can unpredictably change to a violent, insane, chair-throwing side. Simmons is used to yelling from playing J. Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman trilogy, but he out does himself with this portrayal as he is cynical and mean and vulgar and it’s an amazing performance in one particular scene.

We follow Andrew as he makes his way up the ranks, spending all of his free time by practicing nonstop to try to be accepted by Fletcher. We see him playing the drums so intensely that his hands bleed profusely.

When he isn’t prepared like he should be, Fletcher shows sympathy at first for Andrew, who can’t find the correct tempo. All of a sudden, though, Fletcher starts screaming at Andrew, claiming that he is either behind or ahead of the tempo, but wants Andrew to tell him which it is.

Andrew says he doesn’t know, so as an example, Fletcher makes him count off to four, and on four Fletcher slapped Andrew as hard as he could. He repeated this until Andrew could tell him whether his slap was ahead of tempo or behind tempo.

We continue to watch as Andrew is constantly stressed by his instructor and scared of what he could do next. It gives a different kind of suspense that had me hooked from beginning to end.

If you haven’t seen this movie, I strongly recommend that you do.