Miles Keller as Andrew and J.K. Simmons as Fletcher are superb together in the Academy Award-nominated film titled Whiplash. Produced by Sony Pictures Classics, Andrew is a 19-year old jazz drummer attending a top music conservatory who dreams of greatness but is unsure if his dreams will ever come true. Fletcher hears Andrew practicing one evening and inspires Andrew to achieve his goal. Fletcher transfers Andrew into his band as a page turner for his core drummer but when the sheet music for an upcoming competition disappears, Andrew, having committed the piece to memory, gets his chance to play. Over the course of their relationship, Fletcher fuels Andrew’s efforts to achieve perfection to the point where Andrew becomes maniacal. His friends and family don’t recognize him as he walks that thin line between genius and madness. The culmination of his efforts comes to fruition on the stage of Carnegie Hall during a performance.
J.K. Simmons is excellent as Fletcher and is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category. Miles Keller as Andrew has been called a ‘revelation.’ The film itself is very enthralling and is as volatile as the jazz music it celebrates. In addition to J.K. Simmons’ Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, Whiplash is nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing.
It is unfortunate that the original music composed by Justin Hurwitz was not nominated since this film’s music is among the best this season. “There are a lot of big band songs throughout the movie, some of it’s live and some are meant to stand in as standards,” says Hurwitz. Hurwitz has gotten an intensive jazz program working on Damien Chazelle’s last two films. “Damien put me on a steady diet of jazz, both American and French music scores,” he says. I modeled one of the overtures after the Buddy Rich big band style, it’s very, very fast, complicated and dense big band music, the band is just flying around playing, interweaving lines. I wrote and arranged it. From an arrangement standpoint, it’s complicated because it’s also based on the theme of the movie. We had started talking very early about what that theme could be, and what’s important to Damien and me is that scores are thematically economical, they don’t keep throwing new melodies at you.”
J.K. Simmons previously won the 2014 Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor and the film was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance 2014. The 87th Academy Awards airs February 22, 2015 on ABC at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time.