THE BLOG
10/20/2014 05:52 pm ET Updated Aug 25, 2016

"Birdman:" Film Review

There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper. ~ Camille Paglia

...for man is, if I may say so, "the sterile animal." ~ Nietzsche

Alejandro Iñárritu's "Birdman" is an emotional and visual rollercoaster that shall sweep the Academy Awards. If you enjoy sitting at the edge of your seat with your mouth agape watching dramatic pyrotechnics then you will agree this is the best film of the year.

The first awards will go to Emmanuel Lubezki for his soaring and searing cinematography. How he was able to dance so fluidly with the actors, careen through intricate mazes, and move from exteriors to interiors via windows will remain a mystery to me. The choreography of the interaction between the cameraperson and the actors must have resembled the architectural plans for a small city. Mr. Lubezki has taken cinematography to an entirely new level and you will be bedazzled by the fruits of his labors and artistry.

The next award will go to Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress. The breadth of her character is wide and Ms. Stone's profundity is apparently inexhaustible. Watch her destroy it in this scene: Emma Stone, "Relevant."

It is possible that both Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis are nominated for Best Supporting Actor awards but I imagine Mr. Norton will win because nobody will believe that a comedian - the fat guy between two ferns - could deliver such a mesmerizing performance.

Unfortunately Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione will be overlooked in the category of Best Editing because it appears as if they have done so little actual work - meaning that the film is the most seamless adventure you will be taken on in a movie theater and it feels as if there are less cuts than I have fingers. The enthralling dynamic between camera and actors will be to blame for Mr. Crise and Mr. Mirrione not receiving Best Editing award. A shame. Similarly, although the primal music and sound editing of "Birdman" are integral parts to what make this film akin to riding a raft through a tempest, "Birdman" will probably be robbed in these categories by bombastic summer tent-pole movies.

Michael Keaton will win awards for Best Actor for the sheer bravery he exhibits in plumbing the depths of the fruitless and bootless American Dream, of a man who has everything on the outside and nothing on the inside save despair, regrets, dashed hopes and a modicum of talent. That the role may somewhat resemble Mr. Keaton's own career is immaterial. This is a stunning, stellar performance. Period.

Alejandro Iñárritu will win the award for Best Director because of the comprehensive scope of his artistic vision and his flawless execution. Subtle details and nuances speak volumes in "Birdman" and it is easy to see how his grandiose portrayal of common characters and themes raises the bar on storytelling in what remains of Western civilization. The only possible deficit of this film is that the final scene echoes the final scene of the French version of Luc Besson's "Le Grand Bleu," but given the options of the often tragic, hollow trophy of commercial/financial success à la Gatsby and the often comedic, pursuant quest for spiritual/artistic redemption, the Birdman's leap into our fantasyland is the only viable ending.

"Birdman" encapsulates almost every classic male protagonist from Icarus through Faust, Charles Foster Kane, Willy Loman, Stanley Kowalski, Jake Gittes, Tony Montana... every man's dire quest to ultimately to be heard, be appreciated, and to be not just admired but loved. The film is a masterpiece. Easily Best Film of 2014. And if you love literature and painting and music and ballet and theater then you should not miss it.