There’s a part of me that feels a little nauseated by the fact that “Birdman” has done so well at the oscars. Not that I believe it’s a bad film. On the contrary I think it’s an incredible, energized, eclectic and profound film. Keaton is fantastic, Norton is sublime, Stone is fiery and the one continuous shot is breathtaking.
My gripe with it is in no way related to the overall quality of the film, but to the way it’s been carried around and paraded at the Oscars. In essence Inarritu’s film is a stab at vanity in entertainment and the crazed need for some artists to receive recognition for their performances and their creations. It’s a clever tale about versions of real life entertainers that are driven by a need to be recognised as auteurs or artists on some higher level. That it received the oscar for best film (among other awards) at this year’s annual celebrity circle jerk feels rather odd considering it’s a slightly dark, satirical comment on the desires of people like those in the audience at the Oscars.
The more you think about it, the more absurdly self referential it is. In the film there’s a disparaging depiction of critics or reviewers. They appear as clinical, heartless people who have no understanding of the process of creating a film and therefore have an invalid opinion. The Oscars awards are not decided by critics, they are decided by the academy – a group of judges part of the industry’s more powerful elite who make decisions based on who makes the biggest fuss for their film to get an award. what the process ends up being is a special club of successful peers patting each other on the back and labeling what is art and what isn’t. “Birdman” makes fun of this labeling, yet the creators welcome the awards with open arms.
It’s not that it doesn’t deserve awards or status as a good film, it’s just that it’s become uncomfortably self referential.