Oscar Film Review: ‘Birdman’ is Equally Visually Compelling as it is Character Driven.

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The Academy Awards are just over two weeks away, and we know what’s weighing on your mind. With eight nominated films, how are you to get enough information to properly kick ass at your Oscar parties? I mean, I suppose you could go see all the films and weigh them against each other, but who has the time and money? Well, no worries. The AGtM team is here to help, by reviewing every film nominated for Best Picture at this year’s awards. You’re welcome.

We continue with, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — which is tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel with nine Academy Award nominations — tells the tale of washed-up actor, Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), who puts all his money and energy into writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway production of the Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Desperately trying to put behind Birdman, the blockbuster superhero Riggan played decades ago, Riggan feels the pressure and lets it consume him during the production of the play.

The film has a brilliant ensemble cast which includes wonderful performances from Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, and Andrea Riseborough. Though without a doubt the film’s true star is Michael Keaton who is electric as the self-doubting and self-loathing Riggan who starts actually seeing Birdman during mental breakdowns. These characters, between the first-time Broadway actress (Watts), Riggan’s recovering drug addict daughter/assistant (Stone), and the hard to work with method actor (Norton), push the story forward and keep the audience engaged.

Though the cast and story is interesting and engaging, the directorial work, cinematography, and score are just as compelling as the performances and story. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Babel), Birdman is 90 percent shot as a continuous long take. This filming style allows the audience to witness the “inescapable reality” that Riggan Thomson is dealing with. The film’s location, the St. James Theater in the heart of Broadway, allows for this continuous long shot to be executed perfectly. The audience is able to follow almost seamlessly through the film with the characters acting as guides. In addition to the camera acting as a guide through out the film, the film’s score ties in with the action brilliantly.

The film is without a doubt a dark-comedy, leaving the viewer with an open-ended conclusion. Though I personally enjoyed the film’s ending, other members of the audience felt a wee bit cheated. Birdman is equal parts dark and depressing with hints of erratic and comedic sequences. It takes the audience on a visually appealing and compelling narrative journey of the fall and rise of Riggan Thomson. Keaton’s Thomson was captivating and surely is one of, if not the, best performance of the year. I personally cannot think of a better actor to take on this role.  Birdman has a strong story and uses interesting cinematic techniques, which makes the film a strong contender  for Best Motion Picture of the Year.

The Academy Awards airs Sunday, February 22 starting at 7E|4P on ABC.

Kait Calabrò

Kait Calabrò

Lady Kaitlin Marie Bernadette Calabrò of House Ravenclaw, First of Her Name; Mother of Recaps, Breaker of News, Khaleesi of Wonder Wharf, Queen of Geekdom, and Empress of Anglophiles, is the Managing Editor of AGtM.  By day she is the Marketing Manager of the Philadelphia Film Society, by night she is a serious relationship with her Netflix account. Kait is a proud Temple Owl! And is currently in a celebrity feud with both Samuel L. Jackson and Zachary Levi, unbeknownst to them. She spends her evenings watching the skies waiting for Thor to fly down and take her back to Asgard!
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