During the lead-up to the 87th Academy Awards, most Oscar prognosticators agreed that the contest for Best Picture had become a bout between two heavyweights. In one corner was Boyhood, a Richard Linklater film twelve years in the making that depicted a young man’s journey from age six to the first day of college. In the other was Birdman, a movie from Alejandro Iñárritu about a washed up movie star trying to hack out a career resurrection as a playwright and stage actor. Both pictures were strong contenders backed by staunch advocates.
Of course, as so often is the case in any popularity contest, many of the biggest proponents of each film turned into the biggest critics of the other. Boyhood detractors complained that although a twelve-year production timeframe was an impressive feat, it didn’t necessarily make for an impressive final product. They also belittled the script for being overly long and underdeveloped, largely improvised on a year-by-year basis. Meanwhile, Birdman opponents dismissed the film’s seamless aesthetic, designed to look like one long take, as more of a technical gimmick than an artistic endeavor. Moreover, many rolled their eyes at the prospect of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, comprised of several old white men who ascribe relevance within the acting and writing industries, being won over by a fictional old white man struggling for relevance in the acting and writing industries. The hot takes continued long after the Oscars, too. After Birdman won Best Picture, several editorials claimed that the Academy had just made its biggest mistake in decades, arguing that Boyhood will long be held up as a far more deserving candidate. On the other hand, gametimebro’s own editor-in-chief Keith boldly claimed in a recent podcast that Boyhood winning Best Picture would have been the single worst Oscars travesty of all time.
Buried by all of the divisive commentary, however, is an important development. In either case, whether Birdman or Boyhood had won Best Picture, the Academy was set to reward a truly unique and original movie with its highest honor. This is something the Academy almost never does anymore.