BIRDMAN: 2015 OSCAR NOMS ANALYSIS

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Soooo, looking at other blogs, the Oscars are on it would seem… I wouldn’t know if a meteorite struck the earth, let alone the date of a film awards ceremony, so thank you, other bloggers!! I have never been one to give two shits about red carpets, style and popularity contests, so the awards have never really captured my attention. Then I came across this must see movie, this ‘revolutionary’ movie that Ed Norton tells us will have film-students drooling (I am para-phrasing here). I know little about the Oscars but nine nominations seems like a lot. In a first for me, I’m going to run through a few of the nominations it has been chosen for:

To start, Birdman possesses easily one of the most original scores ever conceived, if not a little jarring at first, as it is almost entirely percussive. The score was the first thing I instantly noticed about thi-…. wait…. Let me get this right; this film received nominations in sound editing and sound mixing, but not the score itself? Now how does that work??

Best Achievement in Cinematography

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Birdman’s fly on the wall approach puts you into the movie, behind the scenes of a play, as it swoops around characters as they have conversations and weaves its way through the claustrophobic corridors of the backstage. The much talked-of single-take effect is certainly stunning and while it may be considered a gimmick by some – all it did for me was enhance the movie further as I was entranced by the movement of the camera, the entire film sewn into one continuous shot that actually takes place over a couple of weeks within the movie. Especially memorable is the extreme close-up of Emma Stone as she launches into a tirade at her father. I think Mr. Norton was spot on; the movie was choreographed immensely to achieve the desired effect. While tricks were used to make the entire film look like one take, there were many takes that lasted a long time. The crew practiced and worked on the choreography before filming began – and it shows: as the camera swerves through the corridors following Riggan, doors open and people suddenly pop into frame as if on cue – immersing me further into this world of theater. The cinematography in this film is unlike anything I have ever seen, and perhaps the best I can recall.

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Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Another no-brainer as far as I am concerned, firstly because of the abundance of true story films released last year. But this film’s script and dialogue covers so much ground it takes a few viewings to take it all in. Yes, we have the satire of comic book heroes/movies, we have the art versus popularity discussions (“popularity is the slutty cousin of prestige”, Shiner remarks at one point), and the consequences of fame and the expectations it can cause. But these consequences go much deeper, as I think all of us at some stage have worried about how others think of us. And Riggan’s actions are all motivated by this notion: what his daughter thinks of him, his ex, the public… it all ties back to the examination of ego and how one can choose to let it dictate their life. Mike Shiner is the opposite of Riggan, he ‘doesn’t care what people think’. Riggan does and is broke because of it. This is about more than fame – in Riggan’s dressing room mirror you can see the quote “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing” which ties not only into this concept of our ego, but also into the way the film explores how each of us have our own perspective of reality.

If you truly believe you have superpowers, can you throw shit at all wall with your mind? Can you ignite carnage with the snap of your fingers? If a former version of yourself never ceases to talk and talk to you, sounding as real as any other voice; is it all real? The debatable ending relates to these themes I feel, as otherwise it would just be an ambiguous ending just for the hell of it, just to be different. But I felt the ending truly solidified that notion of what is real, whether it be superpowers or the opinions of others – only you can make these things true or false, real or fake. We make our own destiny.

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Keaton’s career ‘resurrection’ and his former Batman-days no doubt has something to do with his nomination, but his depiction of a desperate, fading movie-star is amazing in its range and its intensity. Riggan goes through every emotion possible, his moods often swinging sideways and backways; whichever way they choose. Almost each time these are reactions to news or the behaviour of a colleague, which highlights another aspect of his personality; he (thinks he) is never wrong. And Keaton really milks this character for all it is worth, overacting when needed, playing subtle when appropriate. His charge through the streets of New York was also truly epic, though certainly a minor part of the film. It however shows yet another side to Riggan character, and this cauldron of personality traits is done effortlessly by Keaton. It honestly doesn’t look like he is trying at points. Obviously being able to relate to the character helped, but this actor has the talent to fill big shoes, to play any character of any role. Whether he wins or not doesn’t concern me in the slightest, but I hope that his performance does resurrect his career as people have alluded to. He is one hell of an actor.

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Best Motion Picture of the Year

I do rate The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash slightly higher than this, and while it is so close to perfect, it arguably can go too far into ‘arty’ territory – mainly concerning the dialogue. But, its innovation in its narrative structure, the variety of themes it touches on, not to mention the mind-boggling cinematography, makes up for an arguable flaw. Ultimately, I don’t particularly care who wins, but it seemed like an apt time to write about a truly unique movie, and one that is very unconventional by Oscar standards. This is a very memorable movie that I feel I will be watching many times over the years. In fact, I have already seen it four times!

As you may have been able to tell, I fucking loved this movie. I am now very keen to dive into the director’s past work, which I am completely unfamiliar with, though I hear they are of a very different tone.

19 Comments on “BIRDMAN: 2015 OSCAR NOMS ANALYSIS

  1. This was a damned good movie. I only saw it by accident really as there was nothing else at the theater starting when we got there – very glad I did. I hope it does win for best picture and I hope Keaton gets it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It indeed would be cool if they won, tho for me Grand Budapest, Foxcatcher and Whiplash beat it out by a hair. And Inherent Vice too if that counts.

      I love that such an unconventional and surreal film has gotten this much attention, especially with the Oscar noms. The cinematography is surely a lock-in! It has serious competition in the other categories tho (especially supporting actors) but i reckon it’ll clean up these four.

      I kinda saw it by accident.. I saw the trailer, was totally mislead and thought it was a fun, brain-dead sorta comedy. Boy was I wrong; I saw it and was just blown away. I’m stopping myself from going to see it a fourth time, that camerawork looks sooooooo good on the big screen!!

      thanks for reading dude 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great analysis Jordan. LOVE what you said about Keaton and I absolutely agree w/ everything you said. He is one hell of an actor, I’m glad he finally got the recognition he deserves. I’ve always thought highly of him, he’s one of those rare actors who could do both comedy & drama so well and he doesn’t seem to care about playing the *Hollywood game* which makes me respect him more.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for reading and the kind words Ruth 🙂

    I’m glad you agree, I actually can’t think of a film off the top of my head that I have seen him in, I probably should do something about that!! And I’m totally with you on not playing the hollywood game… kinda why I like Orson Welles and Terry Gilliam so much! 😀

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  4. Well, the results are in and Birdman cleaned house. I do, however, wish that Best Picture went to Whiplash. I was super glad to see Birdman and Grand Budapest take the rest of the awards though.

    I’m also quite sour Pike did not win. But that’s another issue…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh and I’m a bit bummed that Inherent Vice didn’t really get a look in, but that is why I dislike the Oscars for the most part I guess. It does make for interesting conversation though, no doubt

      Like

  5. I don’t even know the results for the most part, but I know I got 3/4 here. it would have been 4/5 if I realised it was up for best director also. Can’t argue with the lead actor choice as I haven’t seen ‘Theory’ yet, but I reckon 3 outta 4 aint bad.

    And I’m also with you that Budapest cleaned up some awards. The design of that film is so intricate, it deserved attention. The score was so bonkers and out of place for Desplat, did it win best OST? I still can’t believe the Birdman OST wasn’t included, or Under The Skin…

    T’would have been nice for Whiplash to take home Best Picture. Another amazing OST too, dunno if that was nominated.

    I’m mostly happy that such a surreal, bizarre film has made a dent in the mainstream consciousness. Its a fresh change from the norm, don’t ya think?

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  6. I was quite surprised this took Best Picture if I can be completely honest. I was truly blown away with what was accomplished here, I don’t have really any quibbles about it — minor or major. That puts me in a minority of pretentious so-and-so’s that’s for sure! But I really enjoyed this breakdown here man. Wishing I got to it before the ceremonies, of course. Would have made things more interesting as I watched along.

    My favorite moment of the film might be when Riggan gets caught outside the theater and has to make his way back in. That was so brilliant, even though, as you noted, it made up for a small part of the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only just saw this comment, thanks for reading Tom, you pretentious bastard! 😛

      I had a feeling this was going to win best picture, though really I was hoping for Whiplash to win. I mean, I -am- a drummer! 😀

      Appreciate the kind words mate, cheers!

      Like

  7. Pingback: My personal ‘Best Picture’ of 2014 | epileptic moondancer

  8. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen Keaton in his Batsuit but I have been a fan of his since Tarantino thrust him into ‘Jackie Brown’ so I was excited to see this even before I knew what it was about. The huge publicity surrounding the cinematography no doubt elevated its Oscar worthy status and helped solidify it as an outstanding piece of like you say ‘artsy’ cinema. Unfortunately I know people who did not like the ambition, who couldn’t cope with the dialogue, or get on board with the swooping camera work but it’s their loss right! I also LOVED this movie and can’t wait for the Steelbook Blu-Ray to be released!

    Great breakdown into nominations Jordan, good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks mate 🙂 yes I have friends who just reeeeally didn’t get it, but they liked the cinematography… Mainly cos I was pointing it out constantly haha! I’m such a sucker for good photography

      Liked by 1 person

      • Unless you really really love movies I think Birdman is a hard sell! Unfortunately I don’t have the industry know how to just get it across

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah you’re right. And like you said before, its their loss! 😀 I do think birdman is a taaad pretentious, BUT there is no denying that it is flat-out brilliantly made and has so many themes woven into it that you can watch it over and over and take new ideas from it. A truly unique film, I’m glad something like this won the Oscar rather than the usual sorta stuff. It restores some of my faith in those awards!

        Liked by 1 person

      • A little pretentious yeah but still an outstanding feat! To be fair, if Grand Budapest or Whiplash had won I think we’d be having a similar conversation. It was a really strong year for Best Picture

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: THE REVENANT [2015] | epileptic moondancer

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