Oscar Watch: Birdman

Today the Venice Film Festival kicked off and immediately there is major Oscar news to pass along in the form of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman, which opens domestically on October 17th. The film was already considered a potential Academy Awards contender and its premiere more than solidified that status. Early reviews are fantastic.

The advance word today has put me in the unique position of making some rare declarative statements in late August, considered very early in the Oscar season when most contenders have yet to be seen. However, based on the buzz emanating from Italy – I give you these all but guarantees:

Birdman will be nominated for Best Picture

Its director Inarritu will be nominated for Best Director

Its star Michael Keaton will be nominated for Best Actor

The comedy/drama comes from acclaimed director Inarritu, whose other efforts include Amores perros, 21 Grams, and Babel (which was nominated for multiple Oscars in 2006). Besides his directing nomination, expect him and his cowriters to be recognized in the Original Screenplay category.

Birdman focuses on an aging actor best known for playing a superhero… a role Michael Keaton seems tailor made for. And the reviews suggest this is Keaton’s finest role yet. He seems a shoo-in to earn his second Best Actor nomination… some 26 years after his first for Clean and Sober.

As for supporting players, costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone appear to be strong possibilities in the Supporting Actor and Actress races, though their nominations don’t seem quite as assured as Keaton’s. At least not yet. It would mark Norton’s third nod after 1996’s Primal Fear and 1998’s American History X and the first for Stone.

Birdman becomes the third 2014 release that are highly likely to compete in the biggest race of all – Picture. The other two: Boyhood and Foxcatcher and you can read my detailed posts on each of them here:



Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel could find itself in the mix as well, but it’s inclusion is currently more up in the air:


Next week – I’ll be posting my first predictions in all six major categories for the Academy Awards. You can bet Birdman will be featured prominently.

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