Anyone that has seen Birdman, and cares about all this Oscar business, is in luck - they've already seen the Best Picture winner of 2014.
Most other years this fact wouldn't be clear so early. There could still be surprises (I'm hoping Boyhood,Grand Budapest Hotel, and Nightcrawler also make a good showing as nominees), yet I'm still confident in proclaiming a winner three months before the trophy's are handed out. Everything about Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest directorial effort makes the choice easy. It is, top to bottom, a phenomenal movie event.
At a base level, it is a smart, honest story about an actor (Michael Keaton) who is simply trying to resurrect his career and have a fulfilling life after twenty years of only being known for playing a superhero called Birdman. He had mega success and is now taking a classy step in trying to be taken seriously by writing, directing, and starring in a play on Broadway.
As the movie progresses a little you realize this guy is also hearing voices (with a very familiar, deep sounding tone) and using telekinetic powers to trash his dressing room. He might just be losing his mind or maybe his skills as a superhero weren't only part of his character.
Just like Keaton's character, we are continually questioning what is real and what is imagined. There isn't much time to analyze it all, because each scene keeps moving. That fast pace is wonderfully orchestrated by Iñárritu, who filmed almost all of the scenes as continual shots. The actors really perfected their "walk and talk".
Every single person involved in the movie had to have painstakingly planned out each moment intricately, hoping no one would mess up. Scenes were filmed in many locations, from the packed streets of NYC to the cramped hallways of an old theater, and it is one amazing feat of skilled movie making.
Besides the way the movie looks, it is also essential to believe everything that has already been said about Keaton's performance. It is one of those career defining roles that every actor wants. Just like his character, Keaton is most known for playing a superhero, which gives the movie that little extra wowza meta moment. It's just fun to see people talking about all of his past movies. Like this classic gem and many others I've never seen, including Night Shift. After many podcast hosts noted that one as their favorite Keaton film, it instantly was added to my queue.
Truthfully, the entire cast deserves numerous accolades. This especially applies to Edward Norton, who really should be in every movie because his charm and delivery make all movies better, and Emma Stone for using her skills to turn a sassy daughter role into something memorable.
If I see any movie this year with more creativity or more high quality story telling than Birdman I'll, like the old saying goes, eat my hat.
Don't just let me talk about it, lookout for Birdman playing in your neck of the woods.
Until next time!