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And the Oscar went to…

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I awake to find that many people are complaining that the unconventional Boyhood — which I loved — lost to another “system” film, Birdman, which I also loved.

But in all seriouness — what the fuck?

A darkly comic film by a Mexican director who elevated what in lesser hands would’ve been pure gimmick into art is just typical Hollywood system fare?

Even though Boyhood should have won based on its extreme audaciousness, in any other year, every who’s complaining this morning would have been overjoyed to see Birdman rewarded for its merely mundane audaciousness.

I love to complain as much as the next guy, but no one was robbed this year — at least not in the “Best Picture” category.

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  • Marek

    For me, everything about Birdman was good except the actual movie experience. I simply didn’t care for it despite the great acting. But this isn’t going to be (or shouldn’t be) one of those years where we talk about the injustice of it all.

    • SEK

      For me, everything about Birdman was good except the actual movie experience.

      I’ve had a few hour-long discussions with people that made that argument, and at the end of them, they were all convinced that they’d actually enjoyed the film. (Not by me, just by dint of having been provided enough gristle for the mill to discuss a film for an hour without said discussion consisting entirely of mockery.)

      And a lot of people had the same reaction to Boyhood — they found the concept fascinating, the execution brilliant, but the experience a little underwhelming. I’m guessing that’s because they read about the concept first and spent more time being “impressed” by the execution — tracking the development of Hawke’s facial hair, Arquette’s sartorial development, etc. — than paying attention to the plot.

      Again, totally get it — which is why I think both films work better the second time around.

      • Lee Rudolph

        enough gristle for the mill

        Ick. Also yuck and eeuw.

        • SEK

          I meant “grist”! I meant “grist”!

          • rea

            No, we all know you meant Michael Keaton’s nose.

      • Danny

        Yeah, the second time around I realized that Birdman was actually a movie about how ridiculous the pursuit of recognition for recognition’s sake is, and that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a superhero. It hangs together much better that way, though reading the reactions today I’m feeling like I’m taking crazy pills since everyone seems to think it was a movie about the difficulty of acting…

        Haven’t seen Boyhood a second time yet.

      • Marek

        I wasn’t trying to make an argument so much as stating my reaction. Regardless, after reading this thread (and Ms. Nussbaum’s review) I’m prepared to see it a second time and look for different things.

  • I love both and had great experiences watching both.

    In each case, the handling of the central conceit could have been either a disaster or a distraction from a great film. It was not in either case. I found the meta textual elements to enhance each film.

    I will say that I thought qua film that Boyhood had more weaknesses. The performances were great though the boy got weaker over time (mostly because they character became purely a silent observer).

    I also thought some of the incident was unnecessarily contrived. I mean, really? She marries a prof then a student and they are both drunk assholes? Arquette did a great job with it but it was tough sometimes.

    Hawke’s transformation was brilliant. He could have been my uncle.

    Two sour notes for me in Birdman: the love scene with the daughter was hackneyed and unnecessary. Her rejecting him would be way more interesting. The ending didn’t do much for me either.

    But both were in toto magnificent.

    Selma was robbed.

    • Marek

      Two sour notes for me in Birdman: the love scene with the daughter was hackneyed and unnecessary. Her rejecting him would be way more interesting. The ending didn’t do much for me either.

      Agree completely. The daughter thing completely ruined it for my wife (and didn’t do it any favors with me). I’ve seen that movie before, it’s called every other movie. And maybe someone could explain to me what they were doing with the ending, because I had no idea.

      • Halloween Jack

        maybe someone could explain to me what they were doing with the ending, because I had no idea.

        SPOILERS

        Ur qvrf. Rira vs ur’q bayl fubg uvzfrys va gur abfr, ab jnl jbhyq gur vawhel unir ybbxrq (abg gung ybat nsgrejneqf, nf sne nf jr pna gryy) nf vs ur’q bayl oebxra vg. Rirelguvat nsgre ur chyyf gur gevttre vf uvf qlvat snagnfl.

        (rot13)

        • rea

          V gubhtug ur orpnzr Oveqzna naq syrj njnl

          • The Temporary Name

            V’z npghnyyl cnegvny gb guvf…gurer vfa’g n fvatyr fprar va gur zbivr gung qbrfa’g qrny jvgu nhguragvpvgl. Vs vg pna’g or “erny” – Evttva’f n snxr, gur cynl’f na nqncgngvba, JJGNJJGNO vf snzbhfyl pbeehcgrq ol Tbeqba Yvfu naq abg “ernyyl” Enlzbaq Pneire – gura lbh npprcg gung, naq lbh trg fbzr zntvp.

            Whfg jngpurq vg ntnva gur bgure avtug, naq zneiryyrq ng ubj gvtug vg jnf. Snvyvat fdhnooyrf bire gurzngvp vffhrf gubhtu, vg unf zber ynssf guna zbfg pbzrqvrf.

        • Bufflars

          Lrnu, V guvax gur raqvat pna or ernfbanoyl bcra gb zhygvcyr vagrecergngvbaf. Znlor V’z qrafr, ohg V guvax vg pbhyq tb bar bs ng yrnfg 3 qvssrerag jnlf.

          1. Gur “zntvp” vf erny naq ur qvq syl njnl. Uvf qnhtugre’f erfcbafr va gur irel ynfg fubg vf V guvax gur svefg gvzr va gur ragver zbivr (jvgu gur cbffvoyr rkprcgvba bs gur zna ba gur ebbs jub fgbccrq Evttra sebz whzcvat) jurer fbzrbar ryfr frr’f Evttra’f “zntvp”.
          2. Ur whzcrq gb uvf qrngu sebz gur ubfcvgny jvaqbj, nygubhtu uvf qnhtugre’f ernpgvba frrzf gbb unccl sbe guvf gb or yvxryl.
          3. Nf Unyybjrra Wnpx abgrf, Evttra qvrf ng gur raq bs uvf cynl naq rirelguvat ryfr vf va gur nsgreyvsr (be va uvf pbzn, be jungrire). Guvf znl or gur zbfg yvxryl fpranevb nf gurer ner nyzbfg gbb znal nofheq guvatf tbvat ba nsgre ur jnxrf hc. Uvf fhetvpnyyl erpbafgehpgrq abfr vf nyernql nyzbfg urnyrq, gur tybjvat arjfcncre erivrj, uvf qnhtugre fhqqrayl jnez naq nggragvir gb uvz, rgp.

        • Marek

          Thanks, that helps. I think I had considered that while watching but discarded it.

        • Danny

          Gb zr, gur cbvag bs Oveqzna vf gung gurer’f abguvat jebat jvgu n sha cbcpbea syvpx, naq frrxvat gur erpbtavgvba bs pevgvpf vf abg gur ebnq gb unccvarff. Gung’f jul gur “zntvp” rkvfgrq va gur svyz. Vg ercerfragrq Evttna’f qrfver gb whfg nonaqba gur cergragvbhf ohyyfuvg ur jnf perngvat gelvat gb pheel erfcrpg jvgu gur pevgvpny jbeyq. Ng gur raq bs gur svyz, ur ernyvmrf gung gur pbfg bs erqrzcgvba vf whfg gbb uvtu, naq ur’q engure unir gur fhcre-cbjref, juvpu vf jul vg vzcyvrf ur syvrf bhg gur jvaqbj (ol gur ybbx ba Fnz’f snpr).

          • Tehanu

            Pna’g nterr. V guvax ur ernyvmrf gung ol fubbgvat uvf abfr bss ur qvq chg uvzfrys ba gur yvar sbe gur fnxr bs neg — ur vf pncnoyr bs qbvat gung — naq gurersber ur vf nyfb abj serr gb npprcg gung gur fhcreureb fghss ur qvq jnf jbegu juvyr gbb. Gung’f jul uvf qnhtugre vf fzvyvat.

            • V guvax vg’f zber gung ur snvyrq *va uvf fhpprff*. Gur fubbgvat jnfa’g pyrire neg be chggvat uvzfrys ba gur yvar…vg jnf n erfcbafr gb uvf snvyvat gb znxr gur neg-jvgu-erpbtavgvba gung ur fbhtug. Ur snvyrq gb xvyy uvzfrys naq gura tbg gur erpbtavgvba jvgubhg gur neg. Uvf gurngevpny fhpprff jnf nf ubyybj nf uvf pvarzngvp fhpprff.

    • postmodulator

      I mean, really? She marries a prof then a student and they are both drunk assholes?

      Uh, that totally, completely happens. The human tendency is to seek out what we know, not what’s good for us.

      (I haven’t seen Boyhood yet.)

      • Of course it happens. But it happens *a lot in movies*. Why go there? You’re doing something over 12 years and you want to have a classic “rich drunk abusive guy terrorises kids” scene? Why? There are a million other stories and ways that people make bad or tricky choices.

        The troubled youngish daughter of success falling for older actor also happens. But just “it happens” is not a justification for going for the cliche.

        (To be clear, I’m not saying that it’s unbelievable, I’m saying that it’s cliched in movies. The actors did a pretty great job with it, but it felt a bit like a afternoon special at those points.

        Contrast with the scene with the dad having sold his car that he’d “promised” to the kid. Not my favourite scene, but way more interesting.

        In general, the relationship between the parents was very cool and I’d rather have more of that. The second and third husband didn’t have enough time to be interesting and didn’t shed a lot of light on the mom. (Some! Don’t get me wrong. They used it. But it wasn’t a great choice imho.))

        • Barry Freed

          I won’t say there were no false notes in Boyhood, I film I loved and which IMO should have gotten best pic and best director. But I will say that the only false note in the film was when the when that Mexican former landscaper and now manager of the restaurant went up to her and told her how he was inspired to better himself. I did cringe.

          But the dad selling the “promised” car scene totally happened to me (a black with red interior 1961 Triumph, TR3A *wipes away tears*).

          Few will remember Birdman ten or twenty years from now but Boyhood was truly daring in conception- Bazin’s big idea in cinema – and executed wonderfully. It deserved to win.

          • Barry Freed

            Clearly my comment shows that a five minute editing window is not enough in my case.

          • Few will remember Birdman ten or twenty years from now but Boyhood was truly daring in conception- Bazin’s big idea in cinema – and executed wonderfully. It deserved to win.

            I don’t agree about Birdman being remembered. I do agree that Boyhood deserved to win (but so did Birdman).

            I had blocked out the Mexican inspirational Nice White Lady bit. Also gratuitous and pointless.

            (Actually, this is something I find less forgivable about Boyhood: You had 12 years and you still are reaching for sad cliches? C’mon!)

            • Ronan

              What do you mean by “Mexican inspirational Nice White Lady bit”, out of curiosity (I havent seen it yet, so dont mean that rhetorically. I want to look out for it when I do)

      • my problem w/that arc (and w/ the film overall ) is that the storyline just kind of… stopped. did she learn something about her relation to men and herself? for hawke’s character, did he learn something about his inability to commit, to create a stable life? did the kids learn something from their parents mistakes? were they even affected by those mistakes?

        the film looked like 8 or 9 individual scenes/stories about the same characters, filmed a year apart. but no connecting whole or throughline, other than the same actors being involved. i thought clever concept, poor execution.

        i know, unpopular opinion. but that’s how i felt.

        • my problem w/that arc (and w/ the film overall ) is that the storyline just kind of… stopped. did she learn something about her relation to men and herself? for hawke’s character, did he learn something about his inability to commit, to create a stable life? did the kids learn something from their parents mistakes? were they even affected by those mistakes?

          I didn’t get that. I think there was all sorts of progression, though we didn’t always see the progressing events (which I liked!).

          Certainly the final scence between mom and boy involved some reflection about her relation to men.

  • elm

    Didn’t see either, so I have no opinion. Mostly just posting because my comments appear not to be showing up and I want to test that.

    • elm

      They’re showing up now! Of course, some may not make any sense many hours later, but I’ll let the future historians of LGM comment sections worry about that.

  • My actual choice for the award was The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film that brilliantly marries Wes Anderson’s whimsy and artifice to Stefan Zweig’s sentimentality and nostalgia, and has a fantastic central performance from Ralph Fiennes. But I liked Birdman a great deal and am thoroughly satisfied with its victory. It’s been very strange watching the twitter backlash on my feed in the last few days, particularly since the main complaint against the film was that it was a self-congratulatory wankfest. I thought Birdman had some very interesting things to say about art and authenticiy, and that its message was a lot more subtle and ambivalent than many people seem to be giving it credit for.

    • since the main complaint against the film was that it was a self-congratulatory wankfest

      Say what? They must have been watching some other film.

      “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” was great too and had some similar features, though more in form than metatextuality.

    • Kurzleg

      Thank you. TGBH doesn’t come off at all without Fiennes in that role, I think, or at least not as well. Also, while being great as an entertainment, I thought the story resonated in a subtle way with this country’s current “conversation” (such as it is) about immigration and the assumptions some make about those who come here illegally:

      Gustave: I suppose this is to be expected back in… Where do you come from again?

      Zero: Aq Salim al-Jabat.

      Gustave: Precisely. I suppose this is to be expected back in Aq Salim al-Jabat where one’s prized possessions are a stack of filthy carpets and a starving goat, and one sleeps behind a tent flap and survives on wild dates and scarabs. But it’s not how I trained you. What on God’s earth possessed you to leave the homeland where you obviously belong and travel unspeakable distances to become a penniless immigrant in a refined, highly-cultivated society that, quite frankly, could’ve gotten along very well without you?

      Zero: The war.

      Gustave: Say again?

      Zero: Well, you see, my father was murdered and the rest of my family were executed by firing squad. Our village was burned to the ground and those who managed to survive were forced to flee. I left because of the war.

      Gustav: I see. So you’re, actually, really more of a refugee, in that sense?
      Zero: Truly.

      And speaking of immigration, “The Immigrant” was definitely overlooked by Academy. It easily could have won best cinematography over “Birdman.” That closing shot is really ambitious and well-executed. But the cinematography enhanced the entire film and its story. A shame it didn’t get the exposure I think it deserved.

      (The cinematography of “Mr. Turner” also deserved to win. It, too, served the story it was telling extremely well. Like that of “The Immigrant,” it wasn’t particularly showy, but my goodness, it was gorgeous. If you get a chance to see this film on the big screen, do it.)

      I didn’t like Birdman as much as you did. “Self-congratulatory wankfest” is a little strong, but my initial and subsequent reactions to it place it closer to that end of the spectrum than the “Best Picture Oscar” end of it. I’m not sure that anything contained in it was particularly insightful or new – the “authenticity” stuff reminded me of wankfests we used to have as immature, ignorant high-schoolers – and I really had a hard time identifying/sympathizing with the characters. Also, the neglected daughter thing just seemed like the typical movie trope. I guess everyone’s mileage varies, but I got about 7 mph on this one.

      • I didn’t like Birdman as much as you did. “Self-congratulatory wankfest” is a little strong, but my initial and subsequent reactions to it place it closer to that end of the spectrum than the “Best Picture Oscar” end of it. I’m not sure that anything contained in it was particularly insightful or new – the “authenticity” stuff reminded me of wankfests we used to have as immature, ignorant high-schoolers – and I really had a hard time identifying/sympathizing with the characters. Also, the neglected daughter thing just seemed like the typical movie trope. I guess everyone’s mileage varies, but I got about 7 mph on this one.

        I don’t think it had an interesting message or anything: If that’s what you’re looking for, it will disappointment. What was interesting was how the acting was supported by the editing and metatextuality. The characters weren’t likeable per se, but I think the film brought you into being that kind of unlikable person. The seamlessness of the transition also really helped give an “experiential” feel to what you were watching.

        • Kurzleg

          I agree with that, and I did find that aspect of it interesting. In fact, I left wanting more of that.

        • djw

          I thought its comfort with not having an interesting message–it was about a pretty generic kind of self doubt, as manifested in a pretty ordinary person–was a real strength because it left the film and its audience space to focus on other, more interesting things. The backlash against this film is hard for me to make sense of.

          • Kurzleg

            it was about a pretty generic kind of self doubt, as manifested in a pretty ordinary person–was a real strength because it left the film and its audience space to focus on other, more interesting things.

            It was about a pretty specific form of self-doubt in a pretty specific context, a context with which relatively few viewers could identify (let alone sympathize).

            • Really? Relatively few?

              I don’t know, I went with three other people and only two of us had any performance background and we all got it.

              • Kurzleg

                I’m not sure what you mean by “got it.” I mean, I understand what was being portrayed, but I can’t personally identify with an actor’s self-doubt or regret over professional decisions that made him rich but didn’t turn out as expected in other ways. Maybe I’m thinking about this too narrowly, but while watching, I couldn’t help thinking, “Suck it up, you poor rich man!”

                • We all empathised with him (without necessarily liking him).

                • The Temporary Name

                  I very much like the broader sense. In that sense Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is an offstage character and he’s taking you for a ride. It’s a film about what’s real, not about personal redemption (but obviously it’s still a film you have to sit through, and if what was up there annoyed you it didn’t work).

      • I wrote about Birdman and why I liked it here, but the gist of it is that I don’t think you can separate the film’s style from its message. That style and the way it reflects on the question of authenticity feel far more important to me than the characters, who surely aren’t meant to be sympathetic. That the film is so consciously artificial is surely the point.

        • Kurzleg

          It is, and I have to ask: to what end?

          • As I wrote in my blog post, I think it’s to the end of drawing awareness to the fact that all art is artificial and constructed. That Mike and Riggan’s pursuit of “real” emotion on stage as a substitute for it in real life makes them not only bad people, but bad artists.

            • Kurzleg

              Thanks. I’m in the midst of reading it now. Sharp observation about the function of the fluid, long-take camera work.

            • Kurzleg

              Great insights, Abigail! What you’ve written makes me want to see the film again with your observations in mind. Thanks!

              • Thanks!

                • Tehanu

                  I couldn’t post on your site so I will here. I don’t think it was a suicide attempt; I think he deliberately shot his nose to prove he could do what Shiner wanted him to, put himself on the line — commit himself to taking a risk. I could easily be wrong but suicide doesn’t make sense to me. I did like your take on his self-absorption.

                • The Temporary Name

                  Watching the film again I was watching where the pistol went…it wasn’t pointed at his beak nose at all.

        • This was a lovely read. I’m glad you highlighted the poverty of the depiction of the women (and it was close! it could have been so great for that; this is why the silly daughter love scene rankled so).

        • The Temporary Name

          I am entirely with Abigail.

          It’s not an accident that Shiner gets pulled out of his fake-tan machine with a copy of Labyrinths in his hand.

          That the Susan Sontag quote on the mirror – “A thing is a thing not what is said of that thing” – is not literally anything Sontag said is terrific.

    • LeeEsq

      I was hoping that the Grand Budapest Hotel would win to. It actually had the most originally plot and theme out of all the Best Picture nominations. Boyhood might have been an audacious idea but it is a variant of a coming of age story. Birdman is about acting and there have been lots of movies about that. Than we had two biopics. The Grand Budapest Hotel was just different in that it dealt with a sort of history nostalgia, for the urbane culture of the Hapsburg Empire, destroyed by war, fascism, and communism.

      • Richard

        Didnt like Grand Budapest Hotel at all. Good acting, clever editing and cinematography, totally uninvolving. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t emotionally moving, it wasn’t exciting.

        • Kurzleg

          It wasn’t funny?

          • Richard

            Not at all, at least in my opinion. Clever moviemaking, sure but that doesn’t do it for me.

            • Kurzleg

              Like they say, your mileage may vary. In general, I’ve found Anderson’s films funny, and I’ve always liked his sense of comic timing, so there you go.

        • LeeEsq

          I thought it was very moving and funny, you just need to be able to deal with emotion presented through a lot of artifice. If you go past the artifice, you find a very touching movie about lost.

          • Kurzleg

            Indeed. I felt like Gustav’s character was so fully fleshed out, with all his warts exposed, that when the fascists finally arrive Gustav’s fate is genuinely moving.

            • Kurzleg

              Or as Abigail says in the blog post to which she linked upthread:

              Art is the process of saying something real by doing something fake; it achieves authenticity through artifice, not in spite of it.

        • TopsyJane

          I second this, although I didn’t take an active dislike to the picture, I was just underwhelmed by it. Anderson’s brand of quirk wore on me and too much of the alleged funny business fell flat. And the (over)use of well-known actors in bits did not work for me.

          In addition to the other positive aspects Richard mentions, it also looked great.

    • Barry Freed

      I would have been happy with a Grand Budapest win too, a great film. Probably my favorite of Anderson’s films.

      • Kurzleg

        I hesitate to name a favorite, but it might be mine too. With this film, I felt that he’d finally broken away from the fixation he seemed to have with unfulfilling childhoods and distant parents. That, alone, was refreshing.

    • ColBatGuano

      whimsy

      blech

  • Todd

    Also thought Grand Budapest was the best among the nominees.

    And while I thought Birdman was somewhat interesting and filled with stuff to look at, if I had to pick a film from last year that is concerned with pained people in their role as artists it would be “Frank”.

  • How does Oscar voting work? Are there multiple rounds, or does the plurality in a 10-film field take best picture?

    I’ve never liked the 10-nomination rule for Best Picture, which seems designed to let more studios put that honor on their DVD packaging.

    … As for Fiennes, sure is a pity he couldn’t have played a disabled concierge. The Rain Man theory of great acting continues.

    • Most Oscar categories are decided by a simple plurality. The best picture award is decided by single transferable vote. The Hugo awards use the same system which means I have some experience with parsing (read: obsessing over) its results, and at least judging by that award, it’s kind of a waste of time: with rather rare exceptions, the nominee that got the most first place votes is also the ultimate winner.

    • calling all toasters

      Seconded about Fiennes. To me it was the best and most interesting performance of recent years. Maybe they could have played up the Nazi(esque) stuff, or given him a long-winded speech with a message.

      • Kurzleg

        LOL. My consolation for this snub will be watching and enjoying his performance over and over again.

  • djanyreason

    “A darkly comic film by a Mexican director who elevated what in lesser hands would’ve been pure gimmick into art…”

    To me, this is an argument for Best Director and against Best Picture

    • How is it an argument against Best Picture? If it is elevated sufficiently, it is elevated. If he took something that was very difficult to make into a Best Picture and did so, that is an argument for best director *in addition* to Best Picture.

      • djanyreason

        That one acknowledges the raw ingredients are inferior inherently makes it less likely that the finished product will be the best tasting meal, regardless of how talented the chef. Acknowledging that the film was, at it’s core, “pure gimmick” is inherently an argument against it being Best Picture.

        • The quote doesn’t say it’s a pure gimmick but that in lesser hands it would be.

          I think you are confusing “poor ingredients” with “ingredients when handled incorrectly fail catastrophically”. Some recipes are robust and some fickle and delicate but failures still work and some are such that getting it a little bit wrong means you have something worthless. That doesn’t make the successful think bad, just difficult to attain.

  • sleepyirv

    Though I preferred like three films to Birdman I wasn’t angry with its win. The movie did something interesting and had excellent acting; it just happened in a genre (the backstage drama) that I care nothing about. It was an unusually strong field this year and many of these movies could have cleared house in the past few years.

    The only real mistake was giving the best adapted screenplay to The Imitation Game, which was both a poor adaption (which is somewhat bothersome) and a poor screenplay (which is simply unacceptable). Oh well, at least the winner gave a nice speech.

  • JB2

    I’ll take anti-Birdman position: there was much to admire – several of my favorite actors giving great performances, the technical skill of putting it together – but it was just too hard to ignore the awfulness of the play that Riggan was struggling to produce. It just did not seem remotely possible that a play like that would open in a major Broadway theater and have any chance of success. This made it hard to pull for (or against) Riggan or really to care about anybody in the movie. And if Birdman was intended as more of a straight satire, where you’re not meant to identify or sympathize with the people in it, then it should have been a lot more pointed and funny.

    • djw

      but it was just too hard to ignore the awfulness of the play that Riggan was struggling to produce.

      I’m really, really unclear why that would work against the movie.

      • Agreed.

        It’s not just that it was awful, but it was weird. The reindeer scene was hilarious.

        And that it would likely (absent the climatic event) have no chance of success is…like a key point.

        • JB2

          I get what you’re saying – it just didn’t work for me. When it comes to fake “bad” plays, give me “Zoo Animals on Wheels” or “Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off”.

          • Ok, but now I’m confused about your issue. Was that it was too bad or not bad enough?

            • djw

              Yeah, it seems to me “bad in the kind of a way a hack superhero actor might confuse with deep and profound” is pretty much exactly what was called for.

              • JB2

                Agreed – but also “bad in way that made me cringe and grind my teeth and wish I was watching a different movie”.

                And not funny, either. Troy McClure as Dr. Zaius, Chris Elliott as a Wildebeest on roller skates, the opening number of Springtime for Hitler (but not the later scenes with Dick Shawn as the hippie Hitler): very funny.

                As I said, much to admire, just not one my favorites of 2014.

        • rea

          too hard to ignore the awfulness of the play that Riggan was struggling to produce.

          It worked in The Producers

          • JB2

            see above

  • FMguru

    Academy voters love movies about actors, acting, Hollywood, and The Industry – even more than they do movies where the pretty lead actress makes herself look ugly for the part, or where the lead actor plays someone with a physical or mental handicap, or where the director or screenwriter is also an actor – so it’s no surprise that Birdman won.

    • LeeEsq

      My brother thinks that another reason Birdman won was because many people in Hollywood are tired of comic book movies and Birdman is a kind of protest against comic book movies. Jack Black’s rant at the introduction to the Oscar’s might be evidence of this.

      • Kurzleg

        Read Abigail’s blog post linked upthread, which implies that the dichotomy between fantastic and “authentic” art is perhaps a false one.

      • Jean-Michel

        The “anti-superhero-film” aspect of the film has been played up too much IMO; it’s less concerned with critiquing the Hollywood mainstream than the idea that any attempt to rise above it will be met with accusations of bad faith and climbing above your station. That’s pretty clever, and for my money maybe the cleverest thing in a not-terribly-clever movie, since it means a putative Hollywood viewer can watch it and not feel too bad about wallowing in formula. It seems apropos to note that Birdman—unlike The Artist and Argo, which were lavished with prizes pretty much across the board—has been particularly successful among American film workers (i.e. the people who vote for the Oscars and guild awards) and less so among others (the Golden Globes, critics’ groups, non-U.S. awards). It’s certainly hard to see this year’s Oscars as a rejection of comic-book films when they handed the Animated Feature prize (in a rather strong year for the field) to a superhero-origin film that may as well have been made by Disney’s board of directors.

  • TribalistMeathead

    So every year Mrs. Meathead and I go see the Oscar-nominated shorts (animated and live-action) and this year’s crop really sucked. I’m also disappointed when the fucking Disney short wins, even though this year’s was cute enough, and probably the best one by default.

    Posting this on the odd chance anyone has an opinion on the shorts.

    • Kurzleg

      You didn’t like the one with Sally Hawkins?

      • TribalistMeathead

        “Sucked” may have been too strong for the live-action shorts. I liked all of those, including the one with Sally Hawkins. Especially when I learned at the end that Stan’s wife was played by Sybill Fawlty.

        • Kurzleg

          I’m asking because I want to see it. Sally’s an underused talent, and I was so happy to see her get work in a blockbuster like “Godzilla” since I’m sure the paycheck was healthy.

          • TribalistMeathead

            Oh, well, SPOILER ALERT then. Sorry.

            We paid $48 for the two of us to see both sets of collections, and I would pay no more than $24 for two people to watch both sets of collections.

            • Kurzleg

              No worries.

  • wjts

    I think The Babadook was definitely robbed of something – that was easily the best movie I saw last year.

  • brad

    Boyhood….

    was tedious.

    *ducks*

    • totally agree.

      it took 12 years to make.

      it felt like at least that long to watch.

  • Manju

    They chose Byrdman over Selma? OMG!

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