How did we get here?
How did we get to a point where one of the strangest, most startling comedies of the year could be crowned with so much guild and Oscar gold? The recent surge of momentum toward Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s showbiz satire felt a little too good to be true. Birdman’s four big wins on Sunday – for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography – were as well deserved as they were unpredictable at the time of the film’s release.
In October 2014, when Birdman opened to widespread critical acclaim, it had all of the signs of a modern classic that might be too weird to pick up industry honors. From the fascinating use of magical realism to the ambiguous ending, this was a film both dazzling and different, and not one that seemed like it would get much attention beyond art-house admirers and Michael Keaton’s fan club.
Due to its triumph at the Academy Awards, Birdman is already the target of much online sniping and criticism – a dishonor that virtually every Best Picture winner has to deal with. Birdman, with a subtitle so self-indulgent I will not include here, is certainly not a film with mass appeal. It’s quirky and unconventional, and people not familiar with the world of theater and film could find it hard to root for any of the characters.
Regardless, this was a bold, brash, beautiful film. It may be a polarizing picture, but there are several reasons why Inarritu’s dark comedy deserved its place atop the list in one of the great years for cinema in recent memory.
Here are nine reasons why Birdman deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture.