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The Sound of Music meets Psycho

AMID all the Oscar hype each year, often a decent movie gets overlooked. Whiplash is one of these.

It is, quite simply, a must-see. A movie about music college shouldn't be a winner, but this is as action-packed as any mindless war movie, as pacey as any thriller, as gripping as any cop drama.

It opens with college student Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) banging away furiously on his drum kit in America's greatest Arts institution.

Opportunity comes knocking in the form of teacher Terence Fletcher (Oz's Aryan bad guy, JK Simmons), who enrols him in his college jazz band.

It's a viper's nest for shy Andrew: riven with cut-throat rivalries, his first task is to unseat the incumbent drummer and shine.

Easier said than done given that Fletcher is as brutal as any army drill sergeant, and vicious in the extreme. Racist, bigoted, homophobic, insulting, he's the teacher from hell.

Whiplash is a brilliant look at obsession and getting the best out of people by bringing out the worst in them.

Like a good drum solo, it all builds up to a frenzied finale. Even if you hate music, this is a movie that could have been set in a sports team or in a cut-throat office.

Teller and, in particular, Simmons deserve to be in the running for best acting awards.

Highly recommended.