Whiplash

[4.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

As I type, the IMDB raters have Whiplash as #38 on the Top 250 movies of all time. I really don't know about that, but it's pretty good. Nominiated for 5 Oscars (including Best Picture), and won 3.

The story centers around young Andrew, student at the (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory in NYC. He seems to be a nice enough guy: goes to movies with his dad (hey, that's Paul Reiser); clumsily asks out Nicole, the snack bar attendant at the theater.

But he has a goal: to be a legendary drummer, like Buddy Rich. And he sees a possible path to that goal when Fletcher, conductor of the school's jazz band, happens upon one of his practices. Unfortunately, Fletcher is a volatile, foul-mouthed martinet, who loves to play mind games that terrorize the band members. The unfolding conflict between Fletcher and Andrew is filled with "didn't see that coming" events.

J.K. Simmons—who, to me, will always be J. Jonah Jameson—plays Fletcher, and won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts. My only quibble: I think it should have been Best Actor, period. (Although I haven't seen four out of the five Best-Actor-nominated performances, I can't imagine them being better than J.K.)