I just love it when I leave a film that has me laughing or has my heart racing.

If a good movie leaves you with that feeling in your chest, then you leave the theater ready to sing praises of what you just watched.

It’s only a few days afterward that some of the film’s flaws start to sink in.

But for 2014, the only film that left me on that high and kept me there for weeks on end was “Whiplash,” my favorite film of last year and personal pick for Best Picture.

Not only is it challenging to be a musician for the ages, but a talented musician in general.

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

Philip Bergeron / Graphic Design Editor

The pressure is on you, as there are people all around the world who have the same aspirations, a lesson that Andrew Neimann [Miles Teller] learns the hard way.

Neimann is hand-picked by Terence Fletcher [J.K. Simmons] himself to join his band — little does he know what’s in store for him.

It only takes one lesson to realize that Fletcher will torment you physically and mentally to get the results he wants.

Going beyond this would be a big disservice to the rest of the film as it’s best if you see it for yourself. Before the talk of Oscar season, I had heard nothing but critical acclaim all around.

Going in with such a mind-set, it’s rare that a film will reach that level. But in the case of “Whiplash,” it not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.

The film relies mainly on the two lead performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons and by God, do they steal the show.

Aside from “The Spectacular Now,” Miles was stereotyped as the goofy friend who has no other plans than to party all night long.

That Miles Teller is gone and is instead replaced with a truly magnificent performance.

You see in his eyes that he wants to be the best of the best and he’ll work hard to get there.

We’ve all had that one goal that lingers in our minds until we accomplish it, and because of this, we can relate to Andrew’s plight.

It’s easy to sympathize with this character, considering he has a psychopath for a mentor.

This character wouldn’t have had the same effect if somebody other than J.K. Simmons was playing him. We’ve seen J.K.  play the role of the angry authority figure before, in “Spider-Man” for instance, but never to this degree.

When he yells, you see the veins popping out of his head to the point where he could explode at any moment.

His methods are unorthodox, but somehow it gets him the results that he wants.

So it begs the question: is he right? That should be left up to the viewer to decide, as the final 15 minutes give you an answer.

All of Fletcher’s award-worthy insults lead up to the most intense climax of 2014.

There’s no action or special effects, but instead good old-fashioned suspense that’s been building up to this point.

All of this can be attributed to Damien Chazelle, a director who has only made two feature films and is now being recognized by the Academy Awards.

Every cut and musical cue he makes proves that he has a great career ahead of him.

He was able to make his leads have a psychological battle with one another through dialogue and body language.

All in all, “Whiplash” is one of those films that I’ll never forget. There isn’t one second where I didn’t find any enjoyment. Once the film is over, the music never leaves your head because the context of the tune makes so much more sense afterwards.

The moment this comes out, buy it immediately! I’m giving this my highest recommendation.

Rating: A+

Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at mbilodeau@keene-equinox.com

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