Two days ago Screencrush‘s Matt Singer summed up Five Rules for Success in Biopic Season. Five things, in other words, that actors have to do to get nominated for an acting Oscar. One, either gain or lose a ton of weight. Two, age onscreen and not so gracefully. Three, play someone who had great accomplishments but didn’t receive adequate credit (i.e., The Imitation Game). Four, fight against any kind of prejudice (i.e., Imitation Game, Selma). And five, if all else fails sing a song. It’s all listed, referenced and thoroughly explained.
The thrust, obviously, is that Academy voters, saddled with the psychology of abused and needy children, fall for the same routines over and over.
Which of these five tricks does Michael Keaton use in Birdman? The ungraceful aging thing, I guess, although he’s already there when the film begins, and it’s not from anything that looks like makeup. (He looks kind of boozy and saggy and worn-down in the film; in real life he looks pretty great.) His character, Riggan Thomson, fights against a certain prejudice in the film, I suppose, but the prejudice is mainly espoused by a single character, the bitchy N.Y. Times theatre critic who resents Hollywood actors looking for legitimacy on the Broadway stage. Thomson has never done great things or failed to receive adequate recognition for them. He doesn’t sing a song. And Keaton didn’t lose or gain a ton of weight of the role. Is he in trouble?