Oscar History

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Feb 28 2015

Birdman Post-Mortem

BEST PICTURE | BEST DIRECTOR | BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | BEST CINEMATOGRAPHYWe're nearly a week out fromBirdman's big win and as we close out 2014 coverage (I'm hurrying backstagewith our awardsand the podcast Sunday night is our Oscar finale) I'm feeling more and more satisfied with the way everything panned out.Oh surethe Julianne Moore Coronationkept my mood up but there were other things to cherish.

Share the wealth years are usually more satisfying not to mention more representative of a film year andall the Best Pictures took a statue (or more)home.And withBoyhoodwinning so many prizes on the way to Oscar,well that labor of love got plentiful rewards too.I know those awards weren't the Oscar but what's the point of having all of these awards if they all go to the same things.We should celebrate the teensy tiny bit of diversity of wins when they happen.

My delight inBirdman's win is,of course,in direct opposition to what seems to be the majority of critics,which is odd since the film had strong reviews originally.The internet was downright furious when it took Best Picture but whenisn'tthe internet furious,you know?

Depression,navel-gazing and recommended reads after the jump...

First preview tomorrow...

Here we go!

People are so angry all the time.Even about things they should be happy about like stars speaking out on behalf of socially just causes like wage equality.I think Nick was wise to stay away from a lot of it on the following day.He wrote in his brief Oscar recap:

When my third-favorite contender is as wonderful as this movie is,and then it wins,we're talking about a really great Oscars.亚博主页I get in lots of snits about movies that many people think I'm criticizing too harshly or taking too personally,including friends and regular readers.I totally get it.I can only say that it makes perfect sense to me thatBirdmanwould be polarizing but am nonetheless flummoxed by the vitriol it inspires among detractors.  If I'm being honest,most "takedowns"I've read seem awfully willing to omit strong implications of the camera's heightened and subjective orientation,or to take for granted thatBirdmanis besotted with Riggan,or that we're meant to discount the other characters' critiques,or that the film needs to be clearer about the cogency or wretchedness of his play.  None of that washes with me.  Furthermore,I cannot imagine a convincing analysis of Hollywood or of the Oscars where亚博主页Birdman,of all things,represents the villain.  Movie sites and social media were already flooded with such position-taking even before it pipped the much-belovedBoyhoodfor these top prizes,which is why I've stayed out of my Twitter timeline and mostly off the web for the past day.  In Valerie Cherish voice,"I don't need toreadthat!"

I'm with Nick.Onallof that.

And what's more I think the win will actually age well primarily becauseBirdmanis so atypical an Oscar top dog.Don't believe anything you read to the contrary online because they haven't done their homework.Yes,yes,there have been two recent films about Hollywood that have won but that's largely cosmetic.I'm sorry butArgo,The ArtistandBirdmanare all three very different kinds of films.While movies about showbiz do pepper Oscar's nomination history they're hardly the standard for winning.And even if that trio represent a new typical of navel-gazing and desperate optimism of showbiz redemption,at least it's not theoldtypical if you catch my drift.Even if it doesn't become a "classic"in the future it will definitely be a curio and that's MUCH better than just being a generic Best Picture winner.

Atypical means that,to some degree,the Academy was paying attention to what they were watching and thinking about it (as they always should).Birdmanis weird in both structure,performance,and topic.It's hilarious but sad,manic but contained,technically virtuosic but old school (the theatah!),masculine but concerned with women (it's worth noting that it was theonlybest picture with more than one or two key female characters and it had five!),and hard to pin down and categorize in a lot of ways.

A thing is a thing.not what is said of that thing"

Andthis isveryhealthy for the Oscars亚博主页.The movie certainly says more about the "right now"than any of the other Best Pictures nominated apart fromAmerican SniperandSelma,neither of which were set in 'the now' (not that that always matters when speaking to it) and both of which would have made far more typical winners given Oscar's overall preference for war movies and social issue movies set in the past.

One of the drawbacks of Oscar season is that it tends to do this,create these false dichotomies where there are only GREAT MASTERWORKS and TERRIBLE LOATHSOME movies and nothing inbetween where before there might have been a whole bunch of good-to-great and flawed-but-interesting movies.But the love / hate fever just comes with the territory.So we take comfort in the passage of time which eventually divvies the movies up into classics,curios,snoozers,and dross. Alejandro González Iñárritu understands that too,including the 'time will tell' dynamic into his acceptance speech.

Earlier this week I read awonderful piece by Sebastian Nebelthat looked at a surprisingly dense topic withinBirdmanwhich is almost never talked about probably because the film's dialogue on art vs commerce and fame versus "relevance"and "going viral"is so much flashier and easier to process.He was looking at the the way film grapples with depression and the suicidal impulse:

I am neither artist nor critic,as much as I like to pretend to be either at times.So while I recognize that "Birdman"has something to say on these subjects,it's not saying it to me,at least not directly.

We latch onto the things we relate to,we recognize.What I saw in "Birdman"was a deeply troubled man who finds himself so tortured by depression – in his case personified by a long gone superhero alter ego that serves as constant reminder of the fame,the power,the endless possibilities that the march of time has taken from him – that he desperately clings to a last-ditch effort to revive some of the past's glory,only to find that this,too,does not liberate him from his mental anguish.

It's a really interesting tough POV soyou should go read it.

We hope you enjoyed our Oscar week coverage and that you'll be back Sunday eveningfor the Podcast Season Finale!

Pssst.I also think you will LOVE the big piece that goes up tomorrow.But other than those two things I shall be collapsing for next couple of days I think.Have earned it.Have also earnedyour "like"on Facebookandyou signing up for the forthcoming weekly newsletterdon't you think?

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Reader Comments (51)

Tim -- i hardly see anything i wrote here as an "attack".I'm just calling into question the willingness of people who don't like Birdman to pretend it's this safe,predictable,hackwork type of studio drivel -- one of the worst movies ever made,the enemy of all that was good -- rather than just admitting they find its weird experiment with game actors flawed,self-absorbed or whatever and don't like it much.People got so ridiculous about it ...take this tweet.It was meant as satirical but i don't even know this person and obviously they noticed it too (and so did Katey & Nick on the podcast)

vladdy - not chastising.Boyhood was obviously the favorite film of the readers here (from the reader poll on the chart all season) and I love it too but i think whether people dislike one or the other or neither or both of them,they are both ambitious personal vision ultra specific films from auteurs.which is cool.that's what we usually want.even if we don't like specific results.

March 3,2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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