Why the Boyhood Oscar Snub Smarts So Much

Short and sweet. Boyhood should have won.

Oh, it won lots of awards. But not the big one. The Oscar. The award which for better or worse is still the one that truly matters.

We can say the Academy Award doesn't matter to truly independent filmmakers and their fans. We can use this as the ultimate -- or most recent -- proof that the Academy just doesn't "get it."

But everyone does that. People who love the more popular fare that doesn't even get nominated say the same thing. So do the people who wouldn't be caught dead watching a big box office hit. The Academy can't win for losing.

But this time, they really got it wrong.

Birdman is a tour de force, there's no getting around it. Alejandro Inarritu has given us a startling and ingenious new way of seeing a story.

But Boyhood gave us a whole new way of thinking about what a story is. What life is, for that matter.

We know about "high concept" stories, the Batman/Fast and Furious/50 Shades stuff that you can sum up in a sentence. We understand conventional plots that arc just as they should. Even a child can tell you exactly what should and does happen in all of them.

Boyhood isn't like any of them. In fact, it is as bewildering to some as the songs my Hopi in laws sing. No "hook," no chorus, no bridge. Just a stream of beautiful images and ideas that pass by...and then stop.

Linklater chose to hold up tiny moments from our own little lives to the light and say, "Look at that. And that. And that, too..." And dared to believe that those little day-to-day miracles that sometimes happen 'way too fast in real life were also "plot points" worthy of capturing on film.

I was that weeping mother watching her last child leave for college and suddenly realizing the daily details and dramas of single parenting were officially over. And wondering what on earth to do next and how on earth it had happened so fast.

Which scene was yours? Which scenes reminded you of people, places, crises, triumphs that slipped past you before you could savor them?

And wasn't it wonderful to realize that someone had saved them on film for you?

There was a lot of grumbling about how little the top contenders for best picture had earned. And as the entertainment business reels from all the changes the digital revolution hath wrought, it may be difficult for the Academy to decide where it stands.

I still hoped that this year, despite it all, the Academy would stand, firmly, on the side of the dreamers who make little ripples that eventually become huge waves.

They missed so many other opportunities. In fact, Neil Patrick Harris hit the biggest one dead on, right at the beginning of the show.

"Welcome to the 87th Oscars. Tonight, we honor Hollywood's best and whitest. Sorry, brightest," he said. And the applause surprised and moved me.

But they shut out a story made of all the little gems from our own little lives. A story that took a devoted director, cast and crew 12 years to cut and place and polish those little gems until they made our eyes shine, as we watched.

I'm not saying exactly what I want to say because Boyhood's effect -- and importance -- is almost indescribable. And I'm still fuming. But...try this.

At the end of Boyhood, you don't want to fist pump or go out and conquer the world. You just want to live more consciously in that world. To reach out and touch and embrace everything you love. And to take nothing for granted, ever again. Not even the sad and scary stuff.

So Boyhood is more than just a film.

And it will take its place in film history, Oscar or no.

Photo credit: Promotional still