When Birdman took home the Oscar for best picture Sunday, I was stunned. Sure, I knew it had a lot of buzz and had been gaining momentum throughout awards season, but the idea that it would actually triumph at the finish line seemed too absurd to consider.
Before we really get into this, let me offer this disclaimer. No, I did not like Birdman. I thought the story was pointless; the choice to pretend it was one take gimmicky; and the acting completely over the top most of the time. But none of that is why I found the idea of it winning best picture so silly. My self-esteem is not so elevated that I expect the entire Academy of Motion Pictures to adhere to my opinions.
No, my problem with Birdman winning is that it shows just how out of touch Hollywood is with the rest of the world. Granted, there are likely many non-industry people who found Birdman captivating, but it is clearly an industry movie. The kind of movie that Hollywood loves because, well, it’s about them. It’s about an actor’s struggle.
And what was its closest competition, Boyhood, about? The struggles of a working-class family of divorce. Now tell me, what sounds closer to your life and the lives of the people you know: fighting to rebrand yourself because you were too successful when you were younger or balancing going back to school, working full time and raising two children?
I’m not saying Boyhood deserved to win because it was more realistic than Birdman. That’s an insane argument. Not everyone is looking for realism in their movies. But, Boyhood deserved to win because it was a beautiful snapshot of a life that captured what many American families live every day. Birdman was one long inside joke.
But, Birdman won. It will be recorded in the annals of film history as the best movie of 2014. It will reach a much larger audience and perhaps some of that audience will enjoy it. But I’m betting that the vast majority will find they have wasted their two-hour break from their kids and jobs and responsibilities on Hollywood’s latest piece of self-indulgence.
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