a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Dear Readers, dear cineastes, dear lovers of theatre, I don’t know quite what to say about “Birdman”. I liked it. It’s shot in my hood, the theater district in Manhattan. It’s all about the theater, But somehow it also seems quite critical of the theater. Not that the Academy would mind that at all. It’s also extremely critical of Hwood, too. “The Artist” is this not.

This was the film that got the most Oscar buzz and internet chatter going at the New York Film Festival so far this year.

Filmed almost entirely(it seems) at the St. James theater, which I overlook, I can’t believe it missed all this just going on right downstairs.

But the Academy will probably like this a lot. Especially the dominant Actor’s Branch. While it is critical of the theater, it revels in the Art of the Actor. And they will go for that hook, line and sinker. Or will they?

I think Michael Keaton is going to get nominated for Best Actor for sure. Having finally seen his performance, I can say that. But will he win? It’s a) a comedy and b) he’s got the stiffest competition imaginable this year in that category c) he’s playing a likable/unlikeable self-centered asshole.

The most likely winner out of the many nominations this film would seem to be heading towards is Edward Norton for Best Supporting Actor. His no-holes-barred, over-the-top(almost) hysterical depiction of a narcissistic theatre(with an re) actor may be the big award that “Birdman” gets. It may get nominated for Best Picture, and probably will. But it seems about nothing more(nor less) of the inside of his aging actor’s head. Keaton, I mean. The ego that eats everyone around it alive. It’s fun, but also not fun to see this. One moment I was screaming with upexpected laughter, the next I was gagging at its’ excesses…Call it stedicam nausea.

Emma Stone is also proably assured of her first Oscar nomination for playing Keaton’s smart, sexy,mouthy teenage daughter.Compare this to her tepid performance in Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” where she seemed completely at sea. Innaritu really directed the hell out of his actors in this, and in a very good way.

But this film is filmed annoyingly in steadicam. It makes you dizzy, and it’s also a fantasy. And the ending is, well, equivocal, to put it spoiler-free.

I can see it losing to a film with more social relevance. Like for instance “The Theory of Everything” and I think it’s a battle for Best Actor between Eddie Redmayne’s superb Stephen Hawkings and Keaton’s aging asshole.. Redmaybe is young. That’s the only thing standing in his way.”Everything” is a triumphant movie in a big way. It’s uplifting. “Birdman” is icky. But it’s still fun…but…

“The Theory of Everything” is probably going to “My Left Foot” its’ way all the way to the Oscars. I thought that when I saw it at TIFF as they crowd went wild. And it’s NOT the terribly disjointed, depressing, but also socially relevant film that “Imitation Game” is. The Academy doesn’t vote Best Picture to gay films, which is what “Imitation Game” is. But Benedict Cumberbatch will be nominated. AND Keira Knightley, who will join Emma Stone in Best Supporting Actress. Which they will both lose to Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood.”

But I found”Birdman”  enjoyable  almost in spite of myself. It’s my kinda film.I love films about the theater. And I couldn’t identify more with the character’s quest to do great Art on Broadway.  But is it the Academy’s taste? Theater? Theatre? Does it justify all this awards hype? Well, yes,no and maybe.

Comedy can win, and often does, in Best Supporting Actor. So Edward Norton get your acceptance speech ready. Michael Keaton, um, not so fast.Birdman 1 Birdman 1

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