The Revenant reviews

Mister Tee
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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:30 pm

Overall positive response. But, search though I do, I find nothing that says "DiCaprio gives a great performance".


Hollywood Reporter
by Todd McCarthy

A traditional Old West survival-and-revenge tale assumes the dimensions of a harrowing voyage to the American frontier's heart of darkness in The Revenant. Pushing both brutal realism and extravagant visual poetry to the edges of what one customarily finds in mainstream American filmmaking, director/co-writer Alejandro G. Inarritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and a vast team of visual effects wizards have created a sensationally vivid and visceral portrait of human endurance under very nearly intolerable conditions; this is a film that makes you quite glad to have been born in a century with insulation and central heating. The combination of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, the director and critical enthusiasm in most quarters will make this Fox release a must for audiences in search of cinematic red meat (something the story offers up in abundance, and mostly uncooked), although vegetarians and viewers with otherwise delicate constitutions could spend half their time squirming with their sweaters pulled up over their eyes.

For a director who normally takes several years between films, Inarritu has remarkably turned around his most ambitious physical production within just one year of his awards-laden Birdman. Even the untutored eye would quickly recognize this as the work of the same key talents; The Revenant may use plenty of cuts and is set nearly entirely outdoors, but the fluid, prowling, sometimes gasp-inducing camera moves, along with the great depth of field, are the same. And both films are about men on the brink, in severe extremis, a condition that helps justify and sustain Inarritu's artistic high-wire act. It's Jeremiah Johnson meets Apocalypse Now.

Set in 1823 in the Rockies, less than two decades after Lewis and Clark led their map-altering, continent-opening expedition through the territory, the story is based on actual people whose real names are used in the film as well as in Michael Punke's 2002 novel, upon which the script is quite accurately described as being "based in part." In a way, the biggest difference between the novel and the film is that the former is aided by a map, very specific descriptions of the proximity of rivers, forts and other landmarks, which provide clear indications of how far the gravely injured hero must travel to get to what might pass for civilization in this context but certainly not in any other.

Inarritu shares screenplay credit with Mark L. Smith, whose prior creative endeavors lie in the realm of low-budget horror (Séance, the Vacancy duo, The Hole), and the script immediately ups the story's existential ante by deliberately not revealing how long a journey mountain man Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) might be facing, or whether he has any realistic hope of finding any place with a roof over it. On top of this, any temptation to provide the central character with interior monologues to reveal his anguished thoughts and feelings has been resisted; for most of the running time, he is limited to expressing himself via painful grunts and cries and very heavy breathing.

A startling early skirmish between the local Pawnee tribe and a contingent of white trappers serves notice as to the level of brutal realism the film intends to deliver; the whoosh and sudden impact of arrows may never have been more vividly rendered, nor perhaps the sense of panic, confusion, horse speed and arbitrariness of who survives and who does not.

Glass, who previously served as the inspiration for the title character played by Richard Harris in director Richard C. Sarafian's conspicuously less compelling Man in the Wilderness in 1971, is a man of two worlds. He has lived with the Pawnees for some time, speaks their language, married a native woman and is raising their son, but, by virtue of knowledge of the territory, he's highly valued by the hunting expedition led by Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson).

Their ranks decimated and with winter closing in, the white men decide to head back, which brings on the scene, 25 minutes in, that which no one who sees it will soon forget (and which will certainly pass through the mind of any viewer who in future takes a hike through bear country). While taking a rest in the forest, Glass is charged by a mother grizzly bear. The man injures her with the one shot he gets off from his long-barreled rifle but then can do nothing as the incensed creature slaps, claws, bites, rips open and steps on him with her giant paws before retreating. Beyond the sheer terror she provokes, the bear's behavior is fascinating to observe; for a good while, she sniffs and assesses her adversary closely, both in the manner of a cook judging the seasoning of a dish and a kid deciding about whether to play with a toy any longer. She retreats ... and then comes back for more.

Previous renditions of such interspecies hand-to-hand battles have invariably been conveyed via a flurry of quick cutting to convey violent action while concealing the lack of real contact. Thanks to extraordinary visual effects work, Inarritu can deliver this scene with an unprecedented degree of realism in a single shot, the impact of which is devastating. It's the latest and most startling example of the most sophisticated technology used in the cause of ultrarealism as opposed to fantasy.

The physical result of the bear's assault looks like something you normally find hanging in a meat locker. The last words Glass's wife said to him before she died were "keep breathing," and it's a command the man struggles to obey even when no one expects him to live. When weather and steep terrain make carrying the invalid impossible, the departing party leaves two men to tend to him, the hulking, ill-tempered John Fitzgerald (Hardy) and earnest youngster Jim Bridger (Will Poulter). But after a couple of days, the duplicitous Fitzgerald all but buries Glass alive and abandons him as winter begins to close in, eventually lying to Henry that Glass died.

Glass' struggle to survive occupies the core of the story and it's a compelling, harrowing, sometimes challenging ordeal to behold, something beyond the reach of most mortals. Deprived even of his weapons by Fitzgerald, wracked with pain and wheezing with every breath, the man can't even walk at first and is reduced to dragging himself, inch by excruciating inch, in search of food, places to rest and ways to keep himself from freezing. Little by little, he finds ways to cope, starting a small fire, catching fish by hand, curling up inside a warm animal carcass. Glass encounters evidence of other violence involving the Sioux as well as a French trapping expedition, and there are visually astounding moments when the man gets swept down a series of rapids in a frigid river (DiCaprio and five personal stunt doubles doubtless suffered the consequences) and goes over a cliff on horseback (which Inarritu and Lubezki contrived to cover in an uncut take). The wonders never cease.

After about an hour of screen time, Glass manages to make his way to the fort, exposing Fitzgerald's lie. But his deceptions know no limits and he makes his escape, which obliges Glass to set out once again in attempt to achieve revenge and justice in an elaborate and gory Western mano a mano.

The very different settings may disguise the fact, but the recent film The Revenant actually resembles a great deal is Gravity, the outer space smash directed by Inarritu's friend and colleague Alfonso Cuaron. Both are solitary survival stories set in deeply inhospitable environments where human beings cannot survive without the aid of man-made equipment, not to mention uncanny resourcefulness. Both are projects dependent upon the long-term commitment and charisma of a top star to get them made, the advances in special visual effects to make them seamlessly credible and the brilliance of cinematographer Lubezki to provide the highest level of visual astonishment. Both projects were big gambles even for filmmakers as accomplished as these two to take on. And they both pulled them off.

Obscured by heavy animal skins, a scruffy beard and even longer hair, DiCaprio perseveres with a deeply committed characterization that embodies reserves of strength, resilience, imagination, fortitude and righteousness, all attributes required for long-term survival in the earliest days on the North American frontier.

Sporting a bizarre accent that could be described as pre-hillbilly specked with traces of indeterminate lower-class 19th century urban, the equally disheveled-looking Hardy creates a genuinely disturbing character whose primary trait is untrustworthiness on a psychotic level. This year alone, the actor has created at least four memorable big screen characterizations in which you can't really understand everything he says, and Hardy far exceeds the basic requirement for this role, which was to portray a man so despicable that the audience desperately wants to see him get his just desserts. Gleeson and Poulter are very good in the principal other roles of note.

Inarritu makes the interesting decision to break the fourth wall, so to speak, in three instances, to acknowledge the presence of the camera in relation to the actors. Not once but twice, he gets in so close to DiCaprio that the actor's breath fogs the lens. The director presumably could have chosen alternate takes but decided to use these; it's difficult to think of other examples of this happening in a major Hollywood feature. Then, at a very key moment, DiCaprio looks right into the lens, a move that throws you for a split-second but then achieves the greater effect of establishing a more intense relationship with the suffering Glass has endured.

Lubezki's camera wizardry has been duly noted and rewarded for years and his extraordinary work here under hugely difficult conditions will only add to his laurels. Inarritu went out of his way to select locations (mostly in the mountains north of Calgary, Alberta, then in Argentina for the climactic sequence when the snow melted early in Canada) that had never been seen in the cinema before. The intention was to create the feeling of virgin territory, land unfamiliar to the white characters as well as the audience. Using very short lenses to produce great depth of field, Lubezki shot entirely with natural light, which mostly, but not entirely, results in soft grayish skies that, due to the season, seem only half-lit.

It has been noted before, but The Revenant indicates, more than any film Lubezki has shot, the influence of the Russian team of director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky on his work. The Cranes Are Flying and I Am Cuba are well known in the United States, Letter Never Sent (1959) less so, but it's the latter film's amazing, long, often hand-held takes moving through dense brush, forests (at one point on fire), lakes, downpours and snow storms that clearly look like early models for what Lubezki achieves and, admittedly, surpasses here.

Having handled such notable prior evocations of frontier America as Days of Heaven, The New World and There Will Be Blood, production designer Jack Fisk is entirely in his element here, as is another Terrence Malick regular, costume designer Jacqueline West. The score by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, with additional music by Bryce Dessner, is effectively ominous and grim.


Variety
Justin Chang
Chief Film Critic @JustinCChang

Few prestige directors have so fully committed to the notion of cinema as an endurance test as Alejandro G. Inarritu, and he pushes himself, the audience and an aggrieved 19th-century frontiersman well beyond their usual limits in “The Revenant.” Bleak as hell but considerably more beautiful, this nightmarish plunge into a frigid, forbidding American outback is a movie of pitiless violence, grueling intensity and continually breathtaking imagery, a feat of high-wire filmmaking to surpass even Inarritu and d.p. Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on last year’s Oscar-winning “Birdman.” Yet in attempting to merge a Western revenge thriller, a meditative epic in the Terrence Malick mold, and a lost-in-the-wilderness production of near-Herzogian insanity, “The Revenant” increasingly succumbs to the air of grim overdetermination that has marred much of Inarritu’s past work: It’s an imposing vision, to be sure, but also an inflated and emotionally stunted one, despite an anchoring performance of ferocious 200% commitment from Leonardo DiCaprio.

Hard to recognize though he may be under so much blood, grime and unwashed mountain-man mane, DiCaprio will boost the commercial prospects of Fox’s not-so-merry Christmas Day release, which will lean heavily on its award-friendly pedigree to overcome audience resistance to its considerable length and extreme carnage. While the many, many acts of human and animal savagery are doled out judiciously over the 156-minute running time, they’re attenuated to a brutal, can-you-top-this degree, captured in the long, unbroken takes that have become Inarritu and Lubezki’s visual signature (though minus the one-shot digital gimmickry of “Birdman”). The result is a film of robust, overwhelming physicality, filled with striking passages of pure cinema, yet ultimately in thrall to a crude, self-admiring sensibility that keeps catharsis at bay.

The film was adapted by Inarritu and Mark L. Smith from Michael Punke’s 2002 fact-based novel, which is set in 1823-24 in the territories that now make up the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska. While the film never specifies exactly where and when it’s taking place (shooting took place in Canada and Argentina), it faithfully centers around a fictionalized version of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a real-life man of the West who works for the Rocky Mountain Fur Co., skillfully guiding beaver trappers deep into hostile terrain. Theirs is a life of hard work, scarce rations and frequent peril, as we witness firsthand when the men are attacked without warning by Arikara warriors. The film establishes its stylistic approach immediately in this harrowing early sequence, beginning with a single unbroken shot in which tension mounts by the second, only to be relieved by the arrow that comes hurtling out of nowhere to connect with a man’s throat.

As the surviving trappers flee with whatever pelts they can salvage, we feel not just ambushed but surrounded — by the attackers lurking just off screen, by the dense trees looming in Lubezki’s deep-focus compositions, and perhaps most of all by the astonishing sound design, which transforms the music of babbling brooks, rustling trees, thunderous hoofbeats, falling bodies and anguished screams into a wild symphony of woodland chaos. These sounds will be joined, in due course, by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto’s artfully modulated, never-repetitive score, which begins as a series of low, synth-like rumbles that gather melodic force and power as the film progresses.

In short, “The Revenant” must be appreciated first and foremost as a sensory and aesthetic marvel, a brutal hymn to the beauty and terror of the natural world that exerts a hypnotic pull from the opening frame. Its deficiencies as a human drama and a metaphysical meditation will take a bit longer to emerge. Glass is traveling with his teenage son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), a descendant of the Pawnee tribe on his mother’s side, and the two regard each other with an understandably fierce protectiveness. The other trappers, led by the principled Capt. Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), prove respectful enough of father and son, with the singular exception of John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), a nasty ne’er-do-well who makes no secret of the fact that his commitment to the party’s mission is purely mercenary.

And so there’s trouble afoot even before Glass ventures out alone and is mauled by a mammoth grizzly bear, in what must surely be the most squirmingly visceral scene of an animal attack on a human committed to the screen, all the more realistic and protracted for being shot in a single take. Glass kills the bear, but not before it all but kills him, leaving horrific wounds in his chest, back and throat, and rendering him unable to speak or walk. The arduous task of carrying the injured party over the rocky and eventually snowy terrain soon threatens the party’s safety, and it’s decided that Glass will be left behind with Hawk, Fitzgerald and a young man, Jim Bridger (Will Poulter, excellent), so that he can receive a proper burial when he inevitably dies.

Things don’t go according to plan, to say the least, and the full, murderous measure of Fitzgerald’s ruthlessness is revealed as he kills Hawk and leaves Glass for dead, with the pitiably naive Bridger in tow. But the lust for vengeance becomes its own form of survival instinct, and Glass manages to claw his way out of a shallow grave, find food, water and shelter, and stay alive long enough for his wounds to begin to heal. Since his character can barely talk — and has almost no one to talk to — DiCaprio must convey Glass’ interior journey almost entirely through grunts, wheezes and sharp, pained exhalations of breath (often misting up the camera in poetic closeups). Often he does this while dragging his clawed and battered body over rocks and soil — a preferrable method of transport, really, to being washed downstream by a turbulent river, or vaulted off a cliff on the back of a horse. These and other unimaginable detours, plus the near-constant threat of death from predators, starvation and exposure, coalesce into a potent study of human endurance and isolation that makes up the film’s strong midsection (finely assembled by Inarritu’s regular editor, Stephen Mirrione).

An unofficial retread of Richard C. Safarian’s “Man in the Wilderness” (1971), which starred Richard Harris as Glass, Inarritu’s film deviates enough from Punke’s novel to have warranted a “based in part” credit, and several of the changes involve the various indigenous characters hovering on the periphery of the drama — including Hikuc (Navajo actor Arthur Redcloud), a traveler who comes to Glass’ aid, and Elk Dog (Duane Howard), an Arikara warrior trying to track down his daughter, Powaqa (Melaw Nakehk’o), who has been captured by a band of French trappers. But the most significant alteration here is the wholesale invention of Hawk — a touch that aims to humanize Glass, nudge him closer to the right side of history, and instill in him an even more primal hunger for revenge.

Yet through no fault of DiCaprio’s or Goodluck’s, the father-son relationship never develops sufficient emotional conviction to achieve the desired impact; it’s immediately clear that Hawk exists solely so he can die and, as in any melodrama pivoting on the loss of a child, provide an extra twist of the emotional knife. Here and there, Inarritu employs ghostly flashbacks and hallucinations to convey Glass’ love for Hawk and his Pawnee mother, but these visions feel like spectral banalities — and a reminder, in some respects, of the communing-with-the-dead antihero of “Biutiful.” While “The Revenant” is many cuts above that career nadir, it does mark the director’s return to the same glum mood of near-cosmic despair (also apparent in “21 Grams” and “Babel”) after his rare foray into cynical showbiz comedy with “Birdman.”

In all these films, the virtuosity of the storytelling can’t quite disguise a leadenness and lack of modulation that suggest Inarritu’s chief talent is for bludgeoning his audience — sometimes artfully, sometimes merely artily — into submission. The final reckoning between Glass and Fitzgerald is grippingly staged, and audiences hoping to see payback exacted in full will find satisfaction. But here and elsewhere, Lubezki’s camera, with its creeping, darting movements and stealthy 360-degree turns, doesn’t observe the action so much as instigate it. The long-take action sequences begin to feel almost sadistic in their pre-planning. Developments that should be shocking instead take on an air of grinding predictability.

And at every step, the grueling intensity of the performances suggest a behind-the-scenes experience that couldn’t have been much less arduous than the characters’ on-screen ordeal. Whether he’s sinking his teeth into freshly killed meat, cauterizing his wounds with a torch, or stripping naked and sheathing himself in a still-warm animal carcass, DiCaprio has never been this feral or suffered for his art quite so vividly on screen. His frequently wordless, stripped-to-the-bone turn may not match the live-wire energy and inventiveness of his histrionics in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but it’s as scrupulously, agonizingly detailed a portrait of human suffering as you could ever want to see.

Hardy, whose dialogue is perhaps the least intelligible element of the sound design, makes a coolly unnerving villain whose ruthlessness lies in his gift for bullying persuasion as well as his brute strength. He has another excellent on-screen opponent in Gleeson (having quite a year with “Ex Machina,” “Brooklyn” and the forthcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), cast very effectively against type as a righteous man who takes Glass’ mistreatment as a personal insult. And Howard makes a fleeting impression as the Arikara hunter who emerges every now and then to assert the presence of his people in a movie that is ultimately not a tale of an indigenous tragedy, but of a white man’s retribution.

Perhaps the most useful comparison in that respect is with “The New World,” Malick’s 2005 film about the initially charmed, ultimately tragic first encounter between the Jamestown settlers and the Native American tribes whose way of life they so drastically upended. (Both films were shot by Lubezki and feature ace contributions by production designer Jack Fisk and costume designer Jacqueline West.) Those relations have soured irretrievably by the time Inarritu’s movie picks up roughly two centuries later, when the scourge of American imperialism has long since bloodied and corrupted this once-Edenic paradise. But the key difference here is not just of setting, but also of sensibility. The title of “The Revenant” aims to give this renascent avenger a spiritual dimension, but in aiming to steer his dark, fatalistic vision toward something genuinely contemplative and cathartic, Inarritu has managed to appropriate the beauty of Malick’s filmmaking but none of its sublimity — another word for which might be humility. There is plenty of amazement here, to be sure, but all too little in the way of grace.


Screen Daily
By Tim Grierson, Senior US Critic

Dir: Alejandro G. Iñárritu. US. 2015. 156mins

Over his career, filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu has obsessively chronicled the beatific suffering and spiritual rebirth of ordinary men, consistently demonstrating an extraordinary showmanship that often risks tipping over into self-aggrandisement. The Revenant provides the grandest canvas yet for Iñárritu’s best and worst qualities. This brutal survival tale is so powerfully engrossing that, despite the clear limitations of his monochromatic, showy approach, the film’s compelling construction tends to override the legitimate criticisms. Playing a frontiersman left for dead who seeks vengeance, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a potently physical performance that, much like The Revenant itself, eschews nuance in the name of pitiless, cathartic drama.

Arriving in select cities in the US on December 25, and hitting several international territories over the following month, The Revenant looks to be a major awards player, especially considering that Iñárritu just won Oscars for directing, co-writing and co-producing Best Picture winner Birdman. With Tom Hardy serving as the film’s villain, this Fox release boasts plenty of box-office clout thanks to DiCaprio, and certainly expectations will be high among discriminating audiences. Because of the savagery of some of the storytelling, however, The Revenant may be a harder sell for skittish mainstream viewers, although good reviews and Oscar buzz should lead to solid commercial success.

Set in the 1820s around the untamed Rocky Mountains of the American West, the film stars DiCaprio as Glass, a scout hired by an expedition of hunters. He barely survives an ambush by Native Americans, but still manages to lead a handful of survivors to safety along with his beloved Pawnee son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck). Glass is then attacked by a bear, his body badly bloodied as he clings to life. The group’s leader, Captain Henry (Domhnall Gleeson), doesn’t want to leave Glass behind, but a self-centred compatriot, Fitzgerald (Hardy), promises to look after him while the rest of the team scout ahead — only to abandon the mauled and barely coherent Glass at the first opportunity. (Adding insult to injury, Fitzgerald kills Hawk in front of Glass.)

That’s merely the first act of The Revenant, which soon transitions into a tale of survival and revenge which is inspired by true events and based on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel. Enraged by Fitzgerald’s betrayal, Glass wills himself to travel back to their base hundreds of miles away, battling hunger, the encroaching harsh winter and unfriendly Native American tribes so that he can confront the man who murdered his son.

Ever since his 2000 debut Amores Perros, Iñárritu has specialized in tales of physical and emotional trauma, observing characters often at their most desperate or bereft. Working again with Birdman cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, Terrence Malick’s frequent director of photography, he has envisioned The Revenant as a hyper-vivid portrait of man-versus-nature, enclosing the characters in the wild beauty of the West which, at any moment, can turn from breathtaking to harrowing as Glass and the others realise they are at the mercy of an unforgiving landscape dominated by ravenous creatures and deadly natives.

Utilising the same gliding camera he incorporates on Malick’s films to give them their trademark ethereal quality, Lubezki shapes Glass’s world as one that’s almost dreamlike, the majesty of the tall trees and the grandeur of the wide open spaces almost eerily, unsettlingly serene. (Jack Fisk, Malick’s longtime production designer, serves in the same capacity on The Revenant, lending a rugged, handmade authenticity to the characters’ crude dwellings.)

Those awe-inspiring visuals are offset by the frequent barbarism of The Revenant’s characters. In frequent flashbacks that can overdo their would-be poetic resonance, Glass is shown remembering his earlier life with his Native American wife, who was killed by white soldiers, and the promise he made to his child to keep him safe. Those fiery, blood-soaked vignettes establish a pattern of haphazard violence that informs the rest of the film, as Glass will endure a horrifying bear attack, the casual cruelty of Fitzgerald (who tries to bury him alive) and other trials on the way back to base.

In several of his movies, Iñárritu has tried to ennoble misery, practically transforming his agonised characters into martyrs. That tendency can become tiresome in The Revenant once Glass begins his arduous journey, the filmmaker lingering on every hardship and injury his hero endures as if sustained scenes of suffering automatically equal profound insights into the human condition.

But Iñárritu’s overkill is tempered by his star’s soulfulness. Because DiCaprio isn’t given a lot of dialogue, it’s critical that the actor articulate Glass’s pain and determination through facial reactions and steely eyes. This is a stripped-down turn for DiCaprio, who can’t rely on the charm and swagger that have been his signature in movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street and The Great Gatsby. (In truth, Glass is closer to his haunted, brooding characters from Inception and Shutter Island.) If it’s not one of DiCaprio’s most layered portrayals, that’s partly by design: the blunt-force performance is all of a piece, conveying Glass’s unwavering quest for revenge.

At over two-and-a-half hours, The Revenant sometimes strains to be the epic fable that Iñárritu is plainly striving to achieve. Playing the unscrupulous Fitzgerald, Hardy is just as one-dimensionally stoic as Glass, Iñárritu creating the impression that his two adversaries have seemingly been carved out of the towering mountains that surround them. There’s an elemental power to much of The Revenant but also a sameness, the film pounding on a few themes without much variance. Even The Revenant’s juxtaposition of harsh violence followed by contemplative nature shots becomes formulaic on occasion.

Nonetheless, tying it all together is Iñárritu’s flair for bravura operatic flourishes, whether it’s through wizardly single-take scenes (some which appear to have been digitally stitched together) or his ability to craft inspired set pieces that highlight the almost primal forces at play in the film. His gimmicks and indulgences aren’t getting any more manageable, but with The Revenant, neither is his undeniably prodigious talent.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Fri Dec 04, 2015 6:20 pm

Well, on this week's episode of Vanity Fair's Little Gold Men podcast, the commentators used the phrase "slam-dunk" to describe what they saw as Leo's inevitable Oscar win, so it could very well be that my take on the movie is simply my take, and divorced from the general consensus. However, they were also talking about the movie as a potential Best Picture WINNER, and it's very difficult for me to imagine the movie pulling that off -- I think it will just be too divisive to achieve the necessary middle-of-the-road consensus. I think Best Actor, given the numerous variables, is more within reach -- the movie's reputation won't be that of a total misfire like Equus -- but I have my doubts about it being an instant coronation for DiCaprio.

It's possible, too, that I'm just underestimating the level of overdue sentiment there is for Leo, given that I don't see him as someone who has been horribly robbed of an Oscar in the past. I think he's done some impressive work in the last decade -- The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Django, Wolf of Wall Street -- but I've never thought him the "best" in any given year, and as FilmFan says, he's never really seemed all that close to winning before. I question whether enough voters think his Oscarlessness is a wrong that must be amended ASAP.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Dec 04, 2015 3:42 am

Yes, that's exactly it. Burton was the perceived front-runner until the film opened. He was completely overshadowed by Peter Firth who was still winning awards at the end of 1978 when he won the Kansas City Film Critics award as the film which premiered in New York and L.A. in October, 1977didn't make it to Kansas City until the following year.

Burton, as well as Firth, did, however, win a Golden Globe as Best Actor - Drama over Marcello Mastroianni in A Special Day,Gregory Peck in MacArthur, Henry Winkler in the long forgotten Heroes and Al Pacino in the critically drubbed Bobby Deerfield. The Golden Globe for Best Actor - Comedy was the more interesting race between Dreyfus and, John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Still, Burton's performance was a return to form after the muck he had been doing recently. Remember, Equus was released a few months after the godawful Heretic - The Exorcist II, one of the lowest points in his career.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:30 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I have to disagree with ... Italiano



You are certainly right - I was just a child back then. But what I meant is that I don't think that, even before Equus opened, newspapers and magazine kept repeating: this must be Richard Burton's turn. Things were a bit less hysterical back then, I guess (hope). And Burton was a respected actor, and had been nominated six times before, rather than only four. Internet is very democratic, but can get a bit crazy. Di Caprio is only about 40, has been nominated a few times but not countless times... I don't see the urge, honestly.

And then maybe I will see The Revenant and will say: They must give him the Oscar!

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:29 pm

Maybe I'm an outlier here, but I don't see the widespread feel that DiCaprio is "due" as much as I felt it with Winslet. In her case, she was at the Streep/Dench point where she could seemingly get nominated for everything she did. She was/is considered one of the greatest of her generation, and a fantastic person to boot.

As for DiCaprio, he has struggled to get some "easy" nominations in the past (J. Edgar, Django, The Departed -- although he got the Blood Diamond nod instead) and hasn't ever come real close to being in the conversation for a win. I'm not sure how loved he is by the community around him. I'm sure he will win, but I don't see the rush in Hollywood to give him an award as there is on the internet.

Like Winslet, though, it will come down to how well the movie does. Remember that The Reader was the surprise nominations morning, picking up Picture and Director nominations that most of us weren't expecting. It was obvious that people liked that movie, so Winslet became the way to finally honor both the actress and the movie.
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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:48 pm

Let's stipulate that we don't know for sure The Revenant is a dud. I trust BJ's judgment, but the film (along with Dicaprio) does have enthusiastic boosters out there, and should the movie become a big hit, it could be judged "enough" to get DiCaprio over the finish line, much as The Reader was for Winslet (in both cases aided by a lackluster field of front-line competition).

The other possibility is it's like Burton in Equus -- and here I have to disagree with both Italiano's and Magilla's memory of that 1977 race. Of course there was no Internet then, and thus not the hour-by-hour setting of expectations. But Burton, with his six losing nominations, was clearly considered Oscar-due, and Equus was widely viewed as the vehicle that might do it for him. The play had been a critical and commercial hit in both London and New York; Burton took over the role on Broadway (succeeding Anthony Hopkins and Tony Perkins) and had a smashing, sell- out run; the film was directed by Sidney Lumet, whose four previous films had got top-line Oscar attention, the last three of them winning prizes, including three acting awards for Network. How could this not be viewed as prime Oscar hopeful?

The problem was, the film opened to terrible reviews, including for the acting (that's where I dispute Magilla's take, that it was some return to form for Burton), and was a quick box-office flop. Which should have been the end of story, but 1977, like 2015, was a thin year for lead actors. Shockingly so, in fact: we'd been used to moribund fields for actresses (1975 was in the immediate rear-view), but best actor races had always been robust, filled with big names and popular films. (I recall meeting a friend on the day of the Oscars and his expressing incredulity at how lightweight the roster was.). Anyway...somebody had to be nominated, and the Globes nominated Burton in the even-thinner dramatic actor field, giving him the prize in late January. This was all it took for many pundits to start predicting him for the Oscar.

I've never been that successful when going against consensus at the Oscars, but that was one year sticking to my guns paid off. I couldn't believe a film that reviled, that unsuccessful, and a performance that bad could triumph. Burton's not entirely to blame for his badness -- it was Lumet who shot him in extreme close-up in those monologues that semed pitched to the second balcony. (Another friend, who'd been predicting Burton sight unseen, pronounced himself "horrified" when he finally saw a clip from one of them.). In any case, I predicted the far more widely-seen Richard Dreyfuss performance in The Goodbye Girl, and did well in pools as a result.

Maybe something similar will happen this year -- maybe Matt Damon takes Dreyfuss' spot? Or maybe the Winslet experience proves the Internet mob can get its way without critical support. None of this will be clear for some time.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby FilmFan720 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:54 am

flipp525 wrote:DiCaprio's desperation for an Oscar the past few years (and "desperation" is exactly the right word - you can practically smell it through the screen) is starting to remind me of Kate Winslet's circa 2009 when she went for a full-court press assault on the media, begging to finally be awarded with an Oscar for a sub-par performance in The Reader. She had the multiple nominations and there was a similar sense that she was "due." She also had a better performance that year in Revolutionary Road. It's turn-off and I think, given a better alternative, the voters will always migrate to something else.


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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Dec 03, 2015 10:45 am

ITALIANO wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:Leo has five nominations under his belt


He has only four (for acting).

I know that each actor is a special case, but still... I think that even if The Revenant hadn't be directed by Inarritu, they would still claim that this must be Di Caprio's Oscar role. And in case he doesn't win this year, it will be for any movie he makes next year (IF he makes a movie next year, and IF the role seems to have even just some slight substance). This is the way mass hysteria works.

I stand corrected. Of course Greg and Susie won on their fifth nomination so he'd be in good company, but it's far from a done deal.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby flipp525 » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:49 am

DiCaprio's desperation for an Oscar the past few years (and "desperation" is exactly the right word - you can practically smell it through the screen) is starting to remind me of Kate Winslet's circa 2009 when she went for a full-court press assault on the media, begging to finally be awarded with an Oscar for a sub-par performance in The Reader. She had the multiple nominations and there was a similar sense that she was "due." She also had a better performance that year in Revolutionary Road.

It's a turn-off and I think, given a better alternative, the voters will almost always migrate to something else.
Last edited by flipp525 on Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:19 am

Big Magilla wrote:Leo has five nominations under his belt


He has only four (for acting).

I know that each actor is a special case, but still... I think that even if The Revenant hadn't be directed by Inarritu, they would still claim that this must be Di Caprio's Oscar role. And in case he doesn't win this year, it will be for any movie he makes next year (IF he makes a movie next year, and IF the role seems to have even just some slight substance). This is the way mass hysteria works.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Dec 03, 2015 6:31 am

ITALIANO wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Mark Harris wrote the other day that he wished at least one person would say he thought DiCaprio should win the Oscar because he gave the best performance of the year.


All this controversy about Leonardo Di Caprio's still not having won an Oscar is clearly another case of internet hysteria. Ok, he's been nominated (sometimes deservedly, not always) four times. And he's a good actor, I won't deny it. But, I mean - I wasn't there of course, but I don't think that when Deborah Kerr, or Thelma Ritter, or Gregory Peck, or Susan Hayward used to be nominated several times without winning there was the same kind of collective reaction (even in Italy, the mantra is starting: will this be the year of Di Caprio's Oscar?). MAYBE in Susan Hayward's case there was a bit of expectation, because she so obviously wanted it and seemed to choose her roles for that reason, but, I'm sure, nothing compared to this. More recently, it's not like Richard Burton's nomination for Equus was received with the same kind of tension, and - this I can remember - the same can be said for Peter O'Toole for Venus (and he had been nominated SEVEN times before).
Of course times have changed and Leonardo Di Caprio belongs to a different generation - and has a different kind of fanbase. And - again - there's internet today. But we know now that internet can have an influence on the Academy's choice, and this could lead to him finally getting an Oscar for a minor - if hopefully not bad - performance.


Yes, it's internet hysteria, but Leo has five nominations under his belt - let's not forget What's Eating Gilbert Grape for which he received his first nomination twenty-two years ago for a supporting performance in a film he stole from another of this year's anticipated nominees, Johnny Depp.

In all fairness I think the hysteria is based on the expectation that Leo would give another sterling performance in a film from last year's "best director", which is in itself a bad assumption. None of the other performers you mention were in the same boat.

It's only in retrospect that people question the failure of Deborah Kerr or Thelma Ritter to win. There was always the assumption that Kerr would eventually win. I remember thinking that 1964 could be her year with both The Chalk Garden and TheNnight of the Iguana in contention, but then along came Julie Andrews and we suddenly had a new English rose to take our breath away. Ritter said of herself, "always a bridesmaid, never a bride" at the Oscars, nobody expected her to win, certainly not for her last couple of nominations. For years, though, rumors circulated that she missed winning over Donna Reed in 1953 by one vote, but where that came from I don't know.

Gregory Peck's first four nominations were in the 1940s. His fifth, for To Kill a Mockingbird came thirteen years after his last for Twelve O'clock High. There was a sense of "it's his turn" about the win based on the combination of his never having won and having given a great performance even though some of those who voted for him acknowledged Peter O'Toole gave the strong performance in Lawrence of Arabia but thought that his time would come. It never did. The wins for Paul Newman over Bob Hoskins and Geraldine Page over Whoopi Goldberg were of this ilk as well.

Richard Burton's first two nominations were shrugs to most people, his third, fourth and fifth were for wonderful performances in highly competitive years. His sixth was for a bad film and his seventh, a return to great acting, was in a film in which he was out-acted by his young co-star.

Susan Hayward won because she gave a searing performance in a film with a social message that most of Hollywood was behind. The "about time" factor was a side issue. It could have bene applied to Rosalind (Auntie Mame) Russell that year as well.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Dec 03, 2015 4:56 am

Mister Tee wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:
Sabin wrote:Best Actor is going to be very wide-open, also considering that the three critics groups to weigh in the past three days (Paul Dano, Michael Keaton, and Matt Damon) are almost certainly not in the hunt for a win. I haven't seen The Danish Girl yet but the question in my mind is does it matter if we think Eddie Redmayne's performance is miscalculated if Academy voters fall for it?


I think a Redmayne nomination is possible, but I maintain my prior opinion that a back-to-back win for such a middlingly received movie seems pretty unlikely. I think the "it's time" sentiment for DiCaprio, a similar accumulation of career points/industry respect for Depp, the acclaim for Fassbender's performance/film, and the popularity of Damon's vehicle make all of them stronger candidates in my eyes. (I also won't write off Damon as a potential winner -- he's never won an acting award, his first win was almost two decades ago, his movie was a big hit, and if it's poised to have much stronger legs than many of us thought on its release, I don't see why he couldn't compete.) But, yeah, I agree that this is a wide-open race.

We kind of have a situation where no one should win best actor (and everyone should win best actress).

Mark Harris wrote the other day that he wished at least one person would say he thought DiCaprio should win the Oscar because he gave the best performance of the year.



All this controversy about Leonardo Di Caprio's still not having won an Oscar is clearly another case of internet hysteria. Ok, he's been nominated (sometimes deservedly, not always) four times. And he's a good actor, I won't deny it. But, I mean - I wasn't there of course, but I don't think that when Deborah Kerr, or Thelma Ritter, or Gregory Peck, or Susan Hayward used to be nominated several times without winning there was the same kind of collective reaction (even in Italy, the mantra is starting: will this be the year of Di Caprio's Oscar?). MAYBE in Susan Hayward's case there was a bit of expectation, because she so obviously wanted it and seemed to choose her roles for that reason, but, I'm sure, nothing compared to this. More recently, it's not like Richard Burton's nomination for Equus was received with the same kind of tension, and - this I can remember - the same can be said for Peter O'Toole for Venus (and he had been nominated SEVEN times before).
Of course times have changed and Leonardo Di Caprio belongs to a different generation - and has a different kind of fanbase. And - again - there's internet today. But we know now that internet can have an influence on the Academy's choice, and this could lead to him finally getting an Oscar for a minor - if hopefully not bad - performance.

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby flipp525 » Wed Dec 02, 2015 9:44 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
The Original BJ wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:We kind of have a situation where no one should win best actor (and everyone should win best actress).


No. Michael Fassbender should win Best Actor. :D

Yes, I stand corrected. And if the movie hadn't done such a public commercial belly-flop, he almost undoubtedly would. (Leo would be the Peter O'Toole to Fassbender's Forest Whitaker, the would-be-heir-apparent whose movie didn't measure up)

Which is even better because Leo himself was in that race as well for Blood Diamond !
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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:20 pm

The Original BJ wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:We kind of have a situation where no one should win best actor (and everyone should win best actress).


No. Michael Fassbender should win Best Actor. :D

Yes, I stand corrected. And if the movie hadn't done such a public commercial belly-flop, he almost undoubtedly would. (Leo would be the Peter O'Toole to Fassbender's Forest Whitaker, the would-be-heir-apparent whose movie didn't measure up)

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Re: The Revenant reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:06 pm

Mister Tee wrote:We kind of have a situation where no one should win best actor (and everyone should win best actress).


No. Michael Fassbender should win Best Actor. :D


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