Birdman

January 5, 2017

Why ‘La La Land’ is Going to Clean Up this Awards Season

*Post Oscar Update 2-27-17*

*I was partially correct, 14 nominations and six wins isn’t too shabby, and even after the Best Picture snafu, “La La Land” came out in the wash clean as hell.*

Hollywood award season is upon us with the Golden Globes set for this coming Sunday, January 8th, 2017. After the snafu that was #OscarsSoWhite and the conclusion of the drama about Leonardo DiCaprio receiving his first Oscar, we might have an Oscar telecast with a little more diversity, but we’ll see how that goes.

While 2016 provided us some great films with minorities in the lead role such as “Moonlight” and “Lion” and female-driven fare like “Edge of Seventeen” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” there is one film heads and tails above the rest, and it will be heavily rewarded this award season, and that film is “La La Land.”

This is not me saying that “Land” is bad; it’s not; its utterly fantastic, I nearly wept during the opening dance number it was so beautiful, (hopefully Another Day of Sun is up for Best Song at the Oscars). However, if history has anything to do with anything, the deck is stacked in favor of “Land,” and here are some of the reasons:

1) Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back. “Land” for the most part is a throwback to old Hollywood. It’s dancing set-pieces will leave you in awe, the music is infectious, (as I listen to the soundtrack of course) and it’s a classic story of following your dreams, despite the hardships and trials and tribulations. This is the classic Hollywood story.

2)  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are pure and utter joy. This is their third, and for my money best, collaboration. They are natural fits for one another and play off each other so well it’s a mesmerizing things to watch. Gosling has always had stage presence and after “The Nice Guys” there’s no doubt about his comedy chops. Stone has gone from “hmmm, okay, she might be good one day,” to “oh man, she’s really good.” The more I think about it, Stone is more of the revelation where she carries a greater weight in this film and her story hits harder when it comes to actresses in the Hollywood system. She was good in “Birdman” but she’s great in “Land.”

3) It was a struggle to get this film off the ground. It took Damien Chazelle years to get this film going, and it will be commended when the time for awards comes around. Not to forget to mention the fact that while the film is a classic Hollywood film, making of the film is nearly as classic. It’s about as Hollywood as it gets.

4) The soundtrack is wonderful. If “Hamilton” was the hit soundtrack of Broadway in 2016, “Land” is the hit soundtrack of Hollywood in 2016. “Land’s” soundtrack is an experience and will be awarded as such.

5) The final point is going to piggyback on my first point. In the past seven years at the Oscars the Academy has awarded films well when it comes to films paying homage to Hollywood; “The Artist” in 2011, “Argo” in 2012 and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014. While “Birdman” takes more shots at how Hollywood treats actors, nonetheless, it’s a film about Hollywood and all press, is good press.

“The Artist” was at least to me a gimmick film. A silent film made in the day and age of loud Hollywood blockbusters. While I’m not a huge fan, I can understand how people can feel nostalgic for a bygone era.

“Argo” was the ultimate way for Hollywood to fellate themselves. No, I am not saying “Argo” is a bad film, in fact I loved it and it was the catalyst for the re-rising of Ben Affleck’s Q Rating (even though the writing was on the wall with “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” previously). However, the film is about Hollywood people saving the lives of people in a foreign country overtaken by “the bad guys.” It’s a whimsical tale of how Hollywood saved the day in a story that seems almost too Hollywood to be real…yet, it was.

“Birdman” did it’s best to shit all over the way that Hollywood tosses out old actors after they are done using them up, but despite that, it was impossible to ignore the painstaking process of making this film. The acting was great, the direction was great, the message, while I’m sure it miffed Hollywood, had to be commended for what it was; a film that was hard to make and a technical achievement.

“Land” fits the bill as the film to beat. In a year that was full of despair and woefulness, “Land” is the silver lining. It’s got comedy, tragedy, dancing, singing, some great acting and it hits on the idea that you can still go to Hollywood and have all of your dreams come true, but it adds that bittersweet touch. It appeals to idealists, dreamers, and pessimists; it appeals to humanity in these unsure times where a dream is still something to hold onto. Thus, “La La Land” will be your big winner come this award season, and for good reason.

February 21, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Oscar Prediction Podcast (Ep. 40) 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Hooray for Hollywood? Naw, it’s time to skewer Hollywood and rip them and new one, of course while picking the winner’s of this year’s Academy Awards.

The boys go over all the essential categories from Best Score all the way to the grand-daddy of them all; “the award where they could have had 10 nominations, but they decided to go with eight.”

Will “Boyhood” be this year’s big winner? Will “Birdman” fly above the competition? Why was “Gone Girl” only nominated for one award? Why is the Academy in love with films that feature people with disabling diseases?  Is it a fetish that they secretly have that we don’t know about?

All this and much more as the Simplistic Reviews Crew gives Hollywood the old “what-for.”


Show Notes:
Hugh Jackman Hopping At Tony Awards


Music Notes: 

If you’re not interested in our ramblings, just check out our picks below:

Best Animated Feature*
Matt
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: Big Hero 6
DJ
Should Win: The Lego Movie / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Justin
Should Win: The Boxtrolls / Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
*Matt and DJ know that “The Lego Movie” isn’t nominated, and it’s a crime that it isn’t.
Best Musical Score
Matt:
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
DJ:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: The Theory of Everything
Justin:
Should Win: Interstellar / Will Win: Interstellar
Best Adapted Screenplay/Best Original Screenplay
Matt:
Should Win: Inherent Vice & Birdman / Will Win: American Sniper & Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Whiplash & Birdman / Will Win: Whiplash & Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: The Theory of Everything & The Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Sniper & Birdman
Best Cinematography
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
Justin:
Should Win: Grand Budapest Hotel / Will Win: Birdman
Best Director
Matt:
Should Win: Boyhood / Will Win: Boyhood
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Best Supporting Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
DJ:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Patricia Arquette
Justin:
Should Win: Emma Stone / Will Win: Meryl Streep
Best Supporting Actor
Matt
Should Win: Edward Norton / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
DJ:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Justin:
Should Win: J.K. Simmons / Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Best Actress
Matt:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
DJ:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Justin:
Should Win: Rosamund Pike / Will Win: Julianne Moore
Best Actor*
Matt:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
DJ:
Should Win: Jake Gyllenhaal / Will Win: Eddie Redmayne
Justin:
Should Win: Michael Keaton / Will Win: Bradley Cooper
*DJ understands Jake isn’t nominated for “Nightcrawler” but he should have been.
Best Picture
Matt:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Birdman
DJ:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood
Justin:
Should Win: Birdman / Will Win: Boyhood

November 17, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

EXPERIENCE

Birdman – Experience

Let’s not get it confused; “Birdman” is not a superhero film in the traditional sense. Strike that, in barely any sense. If anything it’s a study in our so-called worship of superheroes and superhero films. Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. “Birdman” is a film experience that will either excite or confound, will awe or confuse; in short, it’s not a film for the masses, but it just might be one of the most technical and well acted films in all of 2014.

“Birdman” stars Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson, the former star of the superhero series “The Birdman.” After having fallen on hard times after declining to star in a fourth installment of the franchise, Thompson hopes to reinvent himself on Broadway by directing and starring in a revival of  “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” After an accident with one of his stars during rehearsal, Riggan is forced to hire method actor, Mike, played by Edward Norton, to fill in, which leads to Mike and Riggan clashing. If that wasn’t enough, Riggan is also dealing with his new girlfriend possibly being pregnant, a daughter fresh out of rehab, and a Broadway critic looking to destroy his show with a bad review. And the cherry on top; Riggan is haunted by a voice tempting him into fate; the voice of his Birdman past.

At the surface, “Birdman” can be summed up very easily. It’s the story of a man searching for something more, something that people don’t see on the surface. Searching for a purpose beyond what has been expected of him for so many years, in essence, it’s pretty much the true story of Michael Keaton. Look at Keaton’s career post-Batman, outside of maybe “Jackie Brown” there really isn’t much to write home about. “Batman” made his career, and after that ride was over, there wasn’t much left. The fact that Keaton recognizes that “Birdman” is almost autobiographical.

The other thing that most people will notice about this film, are the extremely long takes that have become a staple for director Alejandro González Iñárritu. From “Amores Perros” to “Bitful” Iñárritu, much his his fellow Mexican filmmaker, Alfonso Cuarón, has made a living on the long take. While it’s a risky decision, especially with the subject of “Birdman” which is essentially a play, the editing is perfect and gives the illusion that you are actually watching a one-take film. If you are a smart observer, you’ll see the cuts and where the edits are made, but they are done extremely well and “Birdman” will definitely be in Oscar contention on it’s technical merits alone.

Aside from being a technical film, “Birdman” is also able to be a film that is thought provoking, but also a little confusing for a lament. One of the biggest mistakes that someone might make going into this film is believing that it’s a superhero film…..its not, in the traditional sense. What I do find the most interesting is that there are a lot of hints that Riggan Thompson might actually be a superhero, and it’s all in how you interpret what you see. Without giving out spoilers, there are tons of ways to interpret “Birdman,” and that could be a turn off to some people who were expecting something a little different.

All in all, “Birdman” is a film worthy of your attention. It has fantastic acting, wonderful directing, and it’s just quirky and weird enough to demand more than one viewing. It’s likely that both Keaton and Norton will be nominated for Oscars in addition to several technical nominations, notably direction, editing, and cinematography. “Birdman” certainly does fly, but it will make your brain work.

Fun Fact: Alfred Hithcock’s 1948 “Rope” is an early example of the perceived “unbroken shot” technique.

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