Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Revenant

As my Oscar prep moves towards its final stages, the excitement grows, and my 2015 best list becomes clearer and clearer. It was this time, last year, that the lovely Birdman came into my life and made the entire year a success! Thankfully, Birdman director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, didn't rest on his Oscar-infested laurels, giving way to... The Revenant! To be honest, I wasn't particularly excited to see The Revenant. The entire thing looked over-dramatized, and, no matter how great of a performance he gives, Leonardo DiCaprio just isn't one of my favorites. Can the guy act?... Of course! But, you will never hear me calling for Leo to win every Oscar from now til Jesus comes (in case you wondered). Regardless, my Oscarly duties required me to see The Revenant, and you never know when an actor might sneak up and surprise you...

There are times when artistic filmmaking collides with a terrific script and a great performance and we get great productions that impress from start to finish. Then, there are times when the art of filmmaking become more important than the film itself. And, times when the performance becomes more important than the film (not just in the media). Unfortunately, The Revenant is the victim of these circumstances. Sure, the film is intriguing, but, even in a non-superhero, non-sci-fi film, the plot is predictable and lifeless. Instead of wondering what will happen to the characters, we just wonder what injury Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) will incur next or what animal will soon provide some sort of transportation/sustenance/shelter. Truly, the film is redeemed only in its artistic value, particularly that which is provided by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. The imagery, along with the amazingly directed fight scenes make for what is probably the most visually stunning film of 2015. Kudos to Inarritu and Lubezki for making that possible!

Oh, Leo, you sneaky son of a gun! I'm quickly becoming convinced that he could have revived the role of Lando Calrissian in The Force Awakens, using blackface in the midst of an Academy racial crisis, and still won best actor or supporting actor. Or, why not just give him both, because he truly "deserves" it. So... maybe that's a tad harsh, but, ultimately, the entire film (filled with great performances) is taking a backseat to Leo's Oscar ride, which is an example of somebody willing themselves to an award, rather than taking satisfaction in their ultimately successful career. Regardless, he gave his all to this role, and, whether or not I liked him or his performance, he sure did try.

End of rant!

Best Character:
As I said before, you never know when an actor might sneak up and surprise you, which is exactly what Tom Hardy did with his portrayal of John Fitzgerald--the rugged Revenant baddie. While DiCaprio certainly lucked up with the abundance of grunts and unfortunate physical struggles that lend themselves to Oscar frontrunners, Hardy actually gave a performance filled with life and character. While I've only had a couple of days to think about the performance, I must say that it is likely one of my favorites from 2015. Kudos to Hardy! You deserve Leo's attention!

Worst Character:
Domnhall Gleeson is quickly becoming the most poorly-cast individual in Hollywood. He seems like such a nice guy, but I've yet to enjoy him in any film. His character, Captain Andrew Henry, played a huge role in the outcome of The Revenant, and could have been one of the most likeable aspects of the film. But, instead, we had to settle for another failed attempt at toughness by Gleeson. Spoiler alert: he's still a scrawny ginger!

I wrote about The Revenant because I had a lot to say, and, also, because I think it's going to end up being the Oscar frontrunner (Spotlight just doesn't seem strong enough, to me). My review has been terribly critical, because that's what I get paid (ha!) to provide. But, in all seriousness, The Revenant is a beautiful film, lacking in only one area--plot depth. Fortunately for the viewer, the lack of plot fades away, in the face of great performances by DiCaprio and Hardy and the brilliant imagery, brought to us by Inarritu and Lubezki. Let's hope that these two continue teaming up, year after year. I know I certainly wouldn't argue! I give The Revenant 3.88 out 5 stars.