|Keaton gives the finest performance of his career.|
Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan and James W. Skotchdopole
Written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts
Riggan Thomson is star who, not unlike Michael Keaton, is famous for playing a superhero. With his Birdman films in the past, Riggan has become a washed-up actor, with little respect from others or himself. He's haunted by the voice of Birdman in his head, and he just wants to move on with his life and career. In an effort to put things right and surprise the naysayers, Riggan directs, writes and stars in a Raymond Carver adaptation on the Broadway stage. He recruits famous stage actor Mike Shiner (Norton) to round out the cast after an accident in rehearsal, and the play begins to wear on Riggan. With his troubled daughter Sam (Stone) in tow, Riggan must battle his demons to give the performance of his career and shock his critics. It might be his last go-round, but it will be a performance to remember.
González Iñárritu's latest film is nothing sort of amazing. Though a major departure from the director of such bleak films as Amores Perros and Babel, Birdman is a triumph of technical flare and manic energy, which flows from the cast and the exciting atmosphere of the stage production. Comparisons to Black Swan are fair game, but this is a little less insane. Still, the film has a pulse of its own, and it's thrilling to watch Keaton and company tear it up in this burst of intoxicating hysteria. Designed to look like mostly one long take, Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography is masterful, and only adds to the character of the film. The improvised drumming of Antonio Sanchez's score complements this, as do the wealth of great performances. Michael Keaton has never been better, offering a fierce portrayal of a disturbed man grasping at one last chance to do something with his career. Edward Norton and Emma Stone are on fire, and even Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan and Zach Galifianakis do a lot with little screen time. The film drips with creativity and dramatic excellence, and it's far and away one of the year's best.
Oscar Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Norton), Best Supporting Actress (Stone), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing