Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” won the Academy Award for Best Picture on Sunday, February 22. The film follows washed-up actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), who used to play a superhero named Birdman, as he tries to put together a Broadway adaptation to prove that he can do more than superhero blockbusters.
One technique that González Iñárritu accomplished, which helped earn him a Best Director win, was making the film look like one continuous shot. Through immaculate cinematography, the entire film flows from one scene to the next. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski, who earned the Best Cinematography award, made the camera smoothly flow from one scene to the next.
Danny O’Brien, a junior at Dana Hills High School, remarked, “The unique continuous single shot style of ‘Birdman’ draws the viewer in and makes them feel as if they are watching the story unfold from within the film.”
The film touches upon various themes. Trying to keep up his own name and watching his own production crumble before him, Thomson is battling his own mentality, as a voice in his head keeps pestering him about the production. The film discusses one’s purpose in life, ambition, and the duality of a person through the character of Riggan Thomson. The film showcases all the actors, who give excellent performances.
One topic that the film tackles is the film industry. An actor, played by Edward Norton, comes in to help out with the production but ends up coming into conflict for Thomson when he attempts to alter the production to his taste. Through this character, the film discusses the different types of films and shows and what the purpose of each is. It discusses the vision and ambition a certain director or actor has.
With the voice inside Thomson’s head, the film similarly explores the audience appeal. What do people want to watch as opposed to what they enjoy watching? Do people want to challenge themselves or do they want to just turn off their brains when watching a movie? Additionally, the film sheds light onto risk-taking during acting and the extent people go to make a scene as realistic as possible. The film even questions the purpose of film criticism in one monologue.
“Birdman” is one of the best films to come out last year. Bringing up heavy themes while also being successful in appealing to a wide audience, this film wholeheartedly deserved the Best Picture win that it received.