Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was probably the shoo-in favorite for top honors at the Berlin International Film Festival, Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” followed closely, but ultimately it was a dark horse that prevailed, like so many times in recent Berlinale history.
It’s as if the Berlin jury intentionally pursues the roads less traveled, always seeking the unconventional, unexpected picks. This year, it’s “Black Coal, Thin Ice” for the win. Or rather wins, as the Chinese crime drama took home both the biggest prize of all, aka the Golden Bear, and male acting Silver Bear (Liao Fan).
Meanwhile, Sundance darling “Boyhood” had to settle for a best director Silver Bear, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” scored the Jury’s Grand Prix, so another Silver Bear. Spreading the love between as many competitors as possible, James Schamus, Christoph Waltz and their panel of jurors didn’t forget about France’s “Life of Riley”, Japan’s “The Little House”, or German-French co-production “Stations of the Cross”.
Finally, the outstanding artistic contribution (read cinematography) cup went China’s way, this time for a drama called “Blind Massage”. Now let’s hope all these no doubt outstanding films will enjoy a kinder fate distribution-wise than 2013’s victors, Romania’s “Child’s Pose”, Bosnia’s “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker”, or Canada’s “Vic and Flo Saw a Bear”.