Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) deserved best picture


Martin Beck, Staff Reporter

Doubtless you’ve heard of Birdman. It snagged multiple Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.

Come Oscar night, I had two picks for best picture. One was the Wes Anderson masterpiece, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which, to this day, I consider one of my favorite films. The other? Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Birdman is the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), the former star of the Birdman superhero franchise, and his quest to write and act in a successful Broadway production. It’s a dark, comical flick that grapples with the fundamental question: What is true art?

Throughout the film, tension builds not only between Thomson and his Broadway comrades, but also, intrapersonally, between Thomson and his past. Riggan is constantly pestered by a voice in his head – Birdman – that lambastes every life decision he has made since declining to make another Birdman movie. The voice serves as a reminder of the fame he has given up in pursuit of artistic integrity. Will Riggan Thomson revert to his Birdman self?

When it comes to characters that exist outside the mental realm, there’s Riggan’s daughter (Emma Stone), his best friend (Zach Galifianakis), his ex-wife (Amy Ryan), and last, but certainly not least, his uncooperative Broadway co-star (Edward Norton). Birdman is made ever greater by the sheer complexity of the relationships between characters: the damaged relationship between Riggan and his daughter, the romantic relationship between Riggan’s daughter and his co-star. It’s simply phenomenal.

A humorous casting fact about Birdman: five of the cast actors have played roles in superhero pictures… in real life. Most notably, Michael Keaton was Batman.

Birdman’s cinematographer is the talented Emmanuel Lubezki – the fellow that made the film Gravity so visually stunning. For Birdman, he didn’t disappoint. Lubezki orchestrated a pretty remarkable illusion: the film looks as though it was filmed in one take (which is appropriate for a movie about theatre).

If a long, introspective journey doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, watch Birdman for the ending. It’s one of the most thought-provoking pieces of cinema I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty discerning when it comes to films. I don’t often give a ten out of ten, but Birdman deserves my undying adoration. Congrats, Birdman. 10/10

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