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Movies & TV

25th Mar 2024

One of the best acting performances of the past decade has landed on Netflix

Patrick McCarry


‘There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.’

Whiplash is a film that grossed 15 times its’ production budget at the box office, won three Oscars, launched the career of its’ director and sits at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. For all that, the fact that it never went super massive means folks, over the past decade, have experienced the joy of discovering it for themselves.

The movie was recently added to Netflix and is one that comes highly recommended from us. You may be watching some of the scenes through the cracks of your fingers – a few are über tense – but it is richly rewarding.

This is what our very own Stephen Porzio wrote about the Damien Chazelle drama, on JOE, last year:

‘Whiplash is an indie psychological drama about an ambitious young jazz drummer (Miles Teller) that is pushed to his limits by his ruthless and abusive band conductor (J.K Simmons) at a prestigious New York music college.

‘The breakthrough film of writer-director Chazelle (Babylon, La La Land), Whiplash features two ferocious lead performances from Simmons and Teller, some of the tautest filmmaking you’ll ever see and a killer soundrack.

‘On top of earning a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes, it was rightfully awarded with three Oscar wins. Simmons took home the Best Supporting Actor trophy, with the movie also cleaning up in the Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories.

Simmons is a revelation as the conductor, Terence Fletcher – switching from amiable and supportive to vindictive, highly personal and ruthless in his methods. Aged 59 when the movie went into production, the Michigan native was pure class in one of the best roles any actor could wish to get. He had made his TV debut, as an actor, in 1986 and picked up a lot of supporting character work, in TV and cinema, during the 1990s.

It was his role as power-wielding inmate Vernon Schillinger in the HBO prison drama Oz that put him over the top. He played the role of the Aryan Brotherhood leader with a real sinister and calculating streak. The success of that role, from 1997 to 2003, saw him cast as J. Jonah Jameson in the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies. Other stand-out roles, leading up to his appearance in Whiplash, include Juno, Thank You For Smoking and Up In The Air.

As Simmons would admit himself, his performance needed a strong character to play off, and opposite. Miles Teller is fantastic as Andrew, confident to the point of arrogant in his own abilities but awkward with almost everybody but his supportive and quirky father (Paul Reiser). Most of the time, Andrew must sit back and take the verbal barrages coming from Fletcher but, on occasion, he stands his own ground, and even takes a stride forward. This film, along with his lead role in Bleed For This, are the two stand-out performances, to date, for the Top Gun: Maverick star.

J.K Simmons as conductor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash. (Credit: Sony Pictures)

J.K Simmons’ Oscar speech after winning for Whiplash

Whiplash won three Oscars at the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony, for editing, sound mixing and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for J.K Simmons.

Simmons was up against some real heavyweights in his category, including Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton. His victory came on the heels of awards for the same role at the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe ceremonies. After thanking his ‘above-average children’ and his wife, Michelle Schumacher, he commented:

“If I may, call your mom, everybody. I’ve told this [to], like, a billion people, or so.

“Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.”

As for the director and screenwriter, you should know him, too. Damien Chazelle expanded the idea for Whiplash from a short film he made, and was nominated for an adapted screenplay Oscar. He went on to enjoy great success with La La Land, which then allowed him to get the green light to write and direct Babylon, starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Tobey Maguire.

For those without a Netflix subscription, you can rent it on the Sky Store or Rakuten or stream on Apple TV (rent or watch for free by signing up for a trial period).

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