Is ‘Birdman’ the Next Breakout Movie?

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s newest film, Birdman, is set to close out the New York Film Festival (NYFF), according to an exclusive story from The Hollywood Reporter. The decision by the NYFF only adds to the increasing buzz for the film as closing-night films have historically gone on to perform well at the Academy Awards. Last year’s closing-night film, Spike Jonze’s Her, went on to receive five Oscar nominations while previous NYFF closing-night films include Alexander Payne’s Sideways and The Descendants, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Jane Campion’s The Piano.

Starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie star whose claim to fame was a role as the superhero “Birdman,” the film follows his attempts to revive his career through a Broadway play. But after watching the trailer, it becomes clear that Fox Searchlight’s synopsis is selling the story considerably short in what appears to be a bizarre dark dramedy with surrealistic elements. Additionally, the film’s supporting cast includes Emma StoneAndrea RiseboroughZach Galifianakis, Merritt Wever, Edward NortonAmy Ryan, and Naomi Watts, so it also isn’t exactly lacking in star power.

For the Mexican-born Iñárritu, who also co-wrote the film, Birdman is the fifth feature film he has directed following Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Babel (2006), and Biutiful (2010). Aside from the fascinatingly strange story at work in the film, it has also earned a lot of buzz due to the style of the film. According to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Tree of Life), Birdman is shot and edited in such a way as to emulate one continuous shot throughout the entire film.

Birdman is a knockout. It’s consistently surprising and inventive — you think the movie is going in one direction and then Iñárritu shifts gears and takes you somewhere else completely unexpected: the movie is like an intricate machine generating greater and greater amounts of beautiful radiant energy,” says Kent Jones, the New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair. “The entire cast is amazing and they mesh perfectly, but I have to say that Michael Keaton is astonishing. He’s always been a terrific and, in my opinion, underrated actor. Here he gets the role he deserves, and he makes the most of it. And, it’s a great Broadway movie.”

The announcement is the icing on the cake for a NYFF with at least two other films destined to be heavy hitters at the Academy Awards. The first of those two is the opening night film, Gone Girl, directed by David Fincher and starring Ben Affleck. The other hugely anticipated film is Inherent Vice, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix, which is the centerpiece film of the festival.

Birdman is set to have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 27 before landing at the NYFF’s closing-night on October 12. Fox Searchlight is then set to release the film theatrically on October 17.

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