I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 2014

Rated R

The title. I mean, seriously… Are you asking me to pick which title I like best? Because, neither. The title(s), and the movie, for that matter, are pretty ridiculous. I was floored when this movie won the Academy’s most coveted award. I hadn’t even seen it yet, but based on all the movies’ previews alone, I knew it shouldn’t have even been in the running.

I’m being harsh. It was mildly entertaining, but certainly not up to the caliber I’ve come to expect from my Best Picture winners. The film follows Riggan Thomson (played by comeback kid Michael Keaton), a washed up actor known as the superhero “Birdman”, who is trying to hack it on Broadway by finally directing, funding, and starring in his first play. But… the thing is, his alter-ego “Birdman” talks to him in his head, berating him for being a nobody, and insisting he be great again. But it’s not just that internal battle with his ego… Riggan has powers.  He can move things across the room with his mind. He can levitate. (But apparently, no one can see this.) Here are my problems: There is no explanation of the supernatural; for a film that has everything else based in the nitty-gritty of reality, I don’t get how he can turn into Birdman for a couple of minutes and no one sees anything. Also, what was Birdman’s super power?? He looks like a completely narcissistic, oddly-costumed bird that does nothing for society. Why was he even popular?


I was more intrigued by the play that Riggan wrote and was starring in and his quest for the right actor (entertainingly played by Edward Norton). Emma Stone, who plays his daughter, on the other hand, drove me bonkers. So. Much. Overacting. (Oscar nomination? Really?)

Throughout the movie, Riggan is internally fighting for his self-worth, a better relationship with his grown-up daughter, and some sort of closure (?) with his ex-wife. He basically wants what everyone wants: to feel validated and be heard. He wants to leave his mark on the world and he’s feeling rushed to do so.

The music in the film kept throwing me off. It was endless jazz drum solos, varying in intensity and volume. I didn’t like the end of the film either, but I guess it matched the rest of the movie: just silly and a bit ridiculous. Overall, I was not a fan of this film, nor would I recommend it, but I do however, know that I do not speak for everyone, as many people online tout this film as being a psychological and philosophical masterpiece. To each his own.

This film was up against “American Sniper”, “Boyhood”, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Imitation Game”, “Selma”, “The Theory of Everything”, and “Whiplash”….. ALL which I thought would’ve won over “Birdman”. (I would’ve liked to see Angelina Jolie’s film “Unbroken” in that list as well.) It had a whopping nine nominations with four wins including: Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay. I’m sure it was awarded Best Cinematography because it was entirely filmed with a hand-held camera. While this style of film can be interesting and effective, sometimes it can be plain irritating. In this film, I often got unattractive shots far too close to an actor’s face during dialogue, and got a little nauseous following Riggan backstage through endless corridors and around countless corners to get to his dressing room. I did notice and was intrigued that because of this style, the film was made to look like one long, never-ending scene. From beginning to end, we were one with Riggan.

I’m a fan of Norton as an actor, so I enjoyed this scene where he plays a highly-sought-after, albeit often intoxicated, actor who agrees to perform in Riggan’s debut play. He ends up coaching his director in the parts and it’s comical.

We are our own worst critics. We’re hard on ourselves, demanding the best. While it’s good to strive for greatness, accept your faults and failures and don’t be too tough on yourself. Chances are, nobody else saw what you saw.

Don’t be too consumed with the admiration of others, that you fail to see the love of people who truly matter. Riggan’s relationship with his daughter was a bit strained and almost non-existent since he was so preoccupied with being everybody else’s idol.  

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