Now the dust has settled on the Oscars it is worth taking look back at the biggest two awards, Best Picture and Best Director. I thought and indeed hoped Richard Linklater would win for Boyhood, not that I begrudge Birdman and its director Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Boyhood was my favourite film of the year, and Birdman would have made my list had it been released last year (Early January in the UK). As I have previously mentioned Birdman was the most directed film and Boyhood has such a bold concept setting it apart from other movies. By the time the awards came along it appeared to be a two horse race with Boyhood winning at the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s and Birdman at the Directors Guild of America and AFI Awards.
So why did Birdman triumph over Boyhood? It is often mentioned that Actors voting block is the largest in the academy. While the other categories are voted for by their peers, voting for best picture is open to all academy members. This has resulted a lot of success for actors turned director. Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, Warren Beaty, Robert Redford, Ben Affleck have all won Oscars for best director, and or their films winning best picture. There was also the recent win for The Artist, a film about Hollywood and actors. And so we come to Birdman’s awards this year, it is a film about actors and acting starring an actor who is reinventing himself in a similar way to the character he plays.
Is it that simple, are actors patting themselves on the back? Yes and No! Birdman is a worthy winner, but as I have repeatedly bemoaned the absurdity of awards for art, no one film is better than all others. With this in mind, it stands to reason that when faced with a tough choice, voters will go with what they can most associate with, this happens to be a film about actors, or in past years directed by an actor. So be it. It is certainly an improvement on some of the WTF winners: Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Braveheart (1995), Shakespeare in Love (1998), Chicargo (2002), Crash (2005).