(This article is part of our Best of the Decade series.)
As the saying goes, everyone loves a comeback. The 2010s saw a number of creative entities emerge from the wilderness to enjoy renewed artistic credibility onscreen. There were so many comeback stories, actually, that this mere list of ten is guaranteed to smack of exclusions. FX’s The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, for instance, revived interest in the trial of the century while serving as a soft comeback for several actors. Be honest: when’s the last time you’d heard David Schwimmer’s name around the watercolor? Despite its use of John Travolta, however, there was no one actor on that show who made a resurgence on the level of Travolta’s in Pulp Fiction. If anything, the show was more memorable for its Emmy-winning turn by Sarah Paulson and for facilitating the breakout of Sterling K. Brown.
Stranger Things built its brand on ‘80s nostalgia and thrust faces from that decade, like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine, back in the spotlight…but there wasn’t room for it on this list, either, and that’s saying a lot. It should be noted, too, that a return to form, in and of itself, isn’t enough to qualify as a comeback. Christopher Nolan was back in top form with Dunkirk, yet while his previous two films may have revealed chinks in his critical armor, they were both still commercial successes. A slightly off-game Nolan is still better than your average blockbuster filmmaker.
Master of the “Nouveau Shamanic” acting style, Nicolas Cage, likewise marches to the beat of a different drum, where the notion of frail mortal comebacks is irrelevant. So alas, you won’t see Mandy on this list. But enough with the honorable mentions … let’s look back, in reverse chronological order, at ten of the decade’s best film and television comebacks.
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Long takes are such a rarity in cinema it seems that we always have to point out when there’s an especially impressive shot in a film or television show without any cuts. Whether it’s a movie like Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu‘s Oscar-winning Birdman or The Revenant or a real superhero sequence like in the first season of Daredevil, you can’t help but marvel at how these single takes are pulled off.
However, as beautiful and breathtaking as long takes on film are, they aren’t necessarily always a good thing. A new video essay dives into what a long take can’t accomplish on screen, which is perhaps why editing is preferable beyond the technical difficulty of pulling off a long, single take. Watch the video essay about long takes in movies after the jump. Read More »
I think most of us can agree that Creed is one of the best movies of this Holiday season, if not the entire year. Its not just a nostalgia sequel/spin-off as some have written it off as, but a great movie. And since seeing the film two weeks ago there is one sequence which I can’t get out of my head, Adonis’s first professional match as a boxer which is presented in one single shot. Was it really one single take, or was it cleverly stitched together like the scenes were in Birdman? Find out how the Creed single shot boxing sequence was accomplished, after the jump.
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With Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), co-writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) took a break from torturing characters to, well, torture some more characters. Birdman has a sense of humor, though, something we hadn’t seen much of from Iñárritu in his past work. The film went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a divisive win amongst movie fans. It is a popular opinion that the long-takes are dazzling, though, and if you want to see some of the hidden edits in Birdman, check them out after the jump.
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The parallels between Birdman and Black Swan were quickly apparent, as both films feature lead characters with theatrical ambitions who are haunted by bird or bird-like specters. An editor has now presented shots from the two films side by side, and if nothing else the Birdman Black Swan comparison provides a jumping-off point to discuss the relationship of each film to the other. Along with that, you can take in a long conversation with Birdman star Michael Keaton. Read More »
Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 by Angie Han
Birdman took home a lot of gold statuettes this Sunday, but Riggan Thomson of all people would know that you haven’t really made it until you have your own action figure.
The latest advert for the Alejandro González Iñárritu picture takes the form of a toy commercial, done up in perfect 1990s style. It goes great with the Birdman Returns trailer released last year. Watch the Birdman toy commercial after the jump. Read More »
The Independent Spirit Awards were handed out in Santa Monica this afternoon, and the crop of winners includes two accolades for Nightcrawler, two for Boyhood, and three for Birdman, including Best Feature. Whiplash also did well, and in general the Indie Spirit awards this year lined up very strongly with the Oscar predictions we and many other people have made. Check out all the winners for the Independent Spirit Awards 2015 below. Read More »
Posted on Friday, February 20th, 2015 by Angie Han
Not many of us can relate to Riggan Thomson’s exact predicament, because not many of us got world-famous playing avian heroes. But you know who can? Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer behind Big Bird, in this pitch-perfect spoof of Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman.
Big Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Orange Pants follows Spinney as he asks himself questions like “How did we get here?” and gets advice from a certain giant bird. Watch the Sesame Street Birdman parody after the jump. Read More »
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Posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 by Angie Han
Among other things, Birdman stood out last year for the way it was shot. Nearly the entire film looks like it was captured in a single take. It wasn’t — you can spot the seams if you’re paying attention — but it’s still a remarkable feat that required a stunning level of coordination.
To show you just how much work went into maintaining this illusion, a new Birdman featurette dives behind the scenes with director Alejandro González Iñárritu, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and stars Michael Keaton and Amy Ryan. Watch it after the jump. Read More »
Birdman, directed byAlejandro González Iñárritu from a script by Alexander Dinelaris, is pretty cynical about Hollywood product. But if things had gone the way the film was originally scripted, it would have ended with an even more pointed jab at the studio franchise machine.
In the film, Michael Keaton plays an actor whose most popular role, Birdman, haunts him as he attempts to mount a stage play. The parallels between Birdman and Batman are impossible to miss. But the original script ended with a scene that took the film’s structure forward to another actor/character pair: Johnny Depp and his Pirates of the Caribbean alter-ego Jack Sparrow. Read More »