Preview: The Potential of “Birdman”

birdman-2014-still-636-380Preview: The Potential of “Birdman”

Given the accolades by the presence of Oscar-nominated director Alejandro González Iñárritu and a strong above-the-line crew including 2013 Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (he won for “Gravity”).  From pre-production “Birdman” sounded like an Oscar contender.

The story follows a washed up actor who used to play an iconic superhero. He decides to bring together a broadway play while fighting his ego and his family problems. It’s a bizarre premise, but putting Michael Keaton in the role of an insane person, sounds like a perfect fit.

Last week we saw this amazing teaser trailer. Keaton looks great, but the real star of the short trailer was Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography which may create quite an obstacle for Roger Deakins as he tries to win his first Oscar for Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken.”

Let’s talk Keaton. Where has this guy been lately? Most iconically known for his role in Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” and “Batman,” Keaton could play it straight, but at his best he was a character actor. A combination of precision casting and directing brought Keaton into this role, where he plays what could be considered a more insane version of himself. I wouldn’t call Keaton “washed-up” but he use to be a very popular actor in the late 80s and early 90s. He is an actor who used to play an iconic superhero. He could pull a lot personally from this role a la Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”

keatonbirdmanDirector/co-writer Alejandro González Iñárritu is most well-known for earning duel Oscar nominations as the producer and director of “Babel.”

In addition, he has also directed “Biutiful” which earned Javier Bardem his third Oscar nomination. Calling Iñárritu an Oscar-veteran or shoe-in just wouldn’t make sense. “Babel” received glowing reviews and awards recognition, but was it a one hit wonder with the Oscars?

“Biutiful,” “21 Grams,” and “Amores Perros” are also some key films on his resume. All of which received positive feedback, but didn’t obtain much awards recognition. (With the exception of Bardem). Iñárritu hasn’t necessarily made a what you would call a “bad” film, but keep in mind he hasn’t worked on a film quite like this one. “Birdman” seems emotionally layered, but it is a comedy, his past films were all dramas.

michael-keaton-birdman-moviePROS:

– The Trailer looks great.
– Michael Keaton looks great, and in a baity role.
– The director/co-writer Alejandro González Iñárritu has a strong resume.
– The release date is October 7th, which shows Fox Searchlight’s confidence in the film receiving awards attention.
– Emmanuel Lubezki is behind the lens.
– Could be Fox Searchlight’s primary push for Oscar, after having success with their Oscar push last year – “12 Years a Slave.”
– The supporting cast looks great, including Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Naomi Watts.

CONS: 

– Comedy is hard, and may prove to hard for the drama-oriented above-the-line crew.
– May not gain award recognition due to its bizarre premise, and lack of technical support (outside of writing and cinematography where would this show up? Visual Effects?)
– Dramedy is hard. Finding that balance of not being too melodramatic and not being too dry is difficult.

“Birdman” looks fantastic. Does it have Oscar written all over it? Not at all. My best guess is that it’ll be a great film that won’t fully connect with all audiences. It’ll be welcoming to see Michael Keaton leading a film again. I believe the film will receive great reviews across the board and land on many critc’s top 10 lists despite being divisive with some viewers. Hopefully we can get a better idea of how great the film is going to be in one of the many upcoming film festivals.

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About Matthew Durham

Passionate about Film, TV and Video Games. BS in Film. Post-Production Editor for The Golf Channel and Writer for TheMedia10.com

2 thoughts on “Preview: The Potential of “Birdman”

  1. I think it’ll be nominated because the Academy, with their extended Best Picture lineup, always seem to make room for at least one comedy.

    • Yeah, I do too. I’d definitely have it in my top 5 right now after that awesome trailer. I do have concerns though, if this director was someone with a weaker resume I wouldn’t think the Academy would touch this, but with Inarritu, Keaton, and Lubezki I think it’ll at least make a dent at the Oscars.

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