Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014).
Seven years on, Birdman’s ideas about the impact of superhero films on artistic expression are no less insightful but can seem almost quaint. Can audiences be inundated with the same childish schlock week after week (literally now with all of these television shows) and still have an appetite for art that broadens the mind instead of fulfilling the same role for the soul as fast food does for the body? Will this supposed “one for them, one for me” approach ever lead to great, post-superhero work or will it always cause typecasting and later projects to be artistically neutered by the family friendly expectations of studios? I don’t know. Truthfully, this time watching I mostly just found myself thinking I wish Broadway would come back soon and how brilliantly the one take gimmick worked for something emulating the live theater experience.
The Real Best Picture:
Despite being by far my favorite winner of the early 2010s, 2014 was a really solid year and I would put it behind both The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash, with Whiplash probably edging out as my favorite of the bunch.