I was talking last night to a guy who’s right in the awards-season thick of things, and he says that The Theory of Everything‘s Eddie Redmayne, Mr. Cuddly Bunny, is coming on in the Best Actor race strong while Birdman‘s Michael Keaton, who’s been at the top of my list since Telluride…well, he won’t play along with the narrative that journalists and columnists want him to follow. Academy members vote for the narrative behind the performance and the campaign as much as for the performance. Dallas Buyer’s Club Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey won for his McConnaissance narrative (i.e., he saved himself from a lifetime of Kate Hudson romcoms by manning up and doing quality work), which he totally played along with. The Keaton narrative (which I don’t need to hear because it’s partly bullshit) is that his Birdman character, Riggan Thomson, obviously reflects Keaton’s own career history. But at every juncture, my guy says, Keaton has been saying “naah, not really…I just took some time off to raise my kids on top of which Riggan is really based on Inarritu and his feelings about Hollywood and superhero movies and how it feels to be 50,” which is true but not entirely. “Thick of things” guy is saying that whatever the truth of it, the smart play for Keaton would be to just go along with the simplistic b.s. narrative and leave Inarritu out of the equation in this context. Just say “yeah, it’s more or less me up there…I am or was Riggan Thomson, and now I’ve been saved by Birdman.” But he won’t do that, which is why Redmayne might (I say “might”) be surging ahead. I’m posting this not as an indication of agreement (I think Keaton is totally cool on all fronts) but as a friendly heads-up to Fox Searchlight. Don’t punish me for being the messenger.