There’s a gaping chasm between ‘doing your best’ and ‘being the best’. Nine-year-old Andrew is aiming for the latter and works with intense focus on becoming the best jazz drummer in the world. With a tenacity that borders on arrogance, he tries to rise above his family’s mediocrity.
His tenacity becomes more important than his talent when he is picked for the studio band by conductor Fletcher at the Shaffer Conservatory in New York. The merciless bandleader drives his students to extremes, demanding nothing less than perfection. If they are lucky, those that make mistakes get sworn at; if not, a chair might fly their way. Seldom were the words ‘Not my tempo’ so threatening.
Damien Chazelle loosely based this film on his experiences as an up-and-coming musician, revealing the aggressive, intensely competitive side of the music world, more reminiscent of sports movies. The extremely young director received five Oscar nominations for this, his second film. Whiplash was awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.