“It does play like a thriller,” admits Miles Teller about “Whiplash,” which swept the top awards at the Sundance Film Festival and now is a hot contender in several top Oscar races. (See Gold Derby’s official rankings and racetrack odds.) Movie-goers expect to see an artsy film about a fanatically obsessed drum student (Teller) and his overbearing teacher (J.K. Simmons), but it’s actually a shocking drama that sometimes borders on being a horror flick.
“Some people compare it to a boxing match, the best fight they’ve seen on screen without a punch being thrown,” Teller adds in our video chat below. “It’s been compared to a ‘Full Metal Jacket’ at Julliard. I think that’s kind of appropriate and that’s great because when you’re talking about a movie about a young jazz drummer at a prestigious school with a rather tough instructor that’s kind of an isolating experience. It wouldn’t have the response it’s getting from people if it only appealed to musicians.”