As you might be aware, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has received a total of nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu), Actor (Michael Keaton), Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), and Supporting Actress (Emma Stone). It seems highly unlikely that Birdman will walk away from the night without any well-deserved wins. It is, after all, a serious contender for the coveted Best Picture award. Here are five simple reasons why Birdman deserves Best Picture. It would be yet another mistake on the Academy’s part if the film doesn’t win, and will probably be the greatest injustice since Goodfellas losing to Dances with Wolves.
It Isn’t Political
Far too many Best Picture winners get the award by hitting the audience over the head with an attempt at a political, social, or historical “message.” We have seen this demonstrated time and time again, especially within the last 10 years. Crash (2005) was all about racism. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) addressed third world poverty in its effort to gain the Academy’s attention. The Hurt Locker (2009) and Argo (2012) were set in the Middle East (the hottest topic in our Post-9/11 world). 12 Years a Slave (2013) was exactly what its title promised. Some Academy members didn’t even see it and still voted for it. If you want your film to win the Oscar, be sure to remember that the basic rule of thumb is to make it about a topic which people are sensitive about (Oscar Bait 101). This is where Birdman differs. There are no political topics covered in the film, nor is there any heavy-handed attempt at a message (or a guilt trip, for that matter). This is a great thing. If Birdman wins, then it will be the first film since No Country for Old Men (2007) which truly deserved to.
It Isn’t Pretentious
Have you ever actually sat down to watch a Best Picture winner only to find yourself constantly rolling your eyes and checking your watch because you’re waiting for it to end? Of course. We all have. This is another area in which Birdman differs. You don’t want it to end. Like any great film, it’s very difficult to not feel an ounce of sorrow once it’s over. Instead, you want to watch it again right away. This is what the best films are supposed to do. Cinema, at its core, is all about expression as well as enjoyment. If you’re waiting for a film to end, you’re not enjoying it and it was hardly even worth a watch to begin with. Thankfully this is not the case with Birdman.
It’s Actually Entertaining
Do you remember how riveted you felt watching Gladiator in theaters way back in the summer of 2000? Now, do you remember how bored you felt watching The King’s Speech on DVD AFTER it had won the Oscar? Both of these films are previous Best Picture winners. Despite this, one of them is still much more memorable and downright entertaining than the other. Gladiator is remembered much more than The King’s Speech because it actually entertained audiences as well as the Academy from beginning to end. It wasn’t elitist, coffeehouse Oscar bait that was forgotten within a month. In order for a film to be truly memorable, it must provide the audience with an engaging experience. Birdman excels in this area. There is never a dull moment in the film.
It’s a Black Comedy, Not a Drama
When was the last time a film that made the viewer laugh actually won the Oscar? The Academy is awfully conservative and biased when it comes to the type of genre in which the award is handed to. It will be a nice change of pace if Birdman wins, and will prove that the Academy is more open to more distinct genres of films, as they should be if they truly want to consider themselves an authority on cinema.
It’s Entirely Original
Birdman is not based off any novel or real event. Films based on books often attract the Academy’s eye. It’s fortunate that a film as fresh, original and unique as Birdman may get the award. If the film wins, it just might be enough to replenish one’s faith in the Academy.