ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS
- Best Picture – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon
- Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio
- Best Supporting Actor – Tom Hardy
- Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki
- Best Costume Design – Jacqueline West
- Best Director – Alejandro G. Iñárritu
- Best Film Editing – Stephen Mirrione
- Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
- Best Production Design – Jack Fisk (Production Design); Hamish Purdy (Set Decoration)
- Best Sound Editing – Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
- Best Sound Mixing – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
- Best Visual Effects – Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
A long time ago, I stopped pretending I didn’t want to see a movie just because Leonardo DiCaprio was in it. When you aren’t even 30 years old and you’ve managed to keep the same favorite actor for about 20 years, I think it’s okay to admit that that actor pulls enough weight to make you see any movie he’s in. But I’m lucky. Leo makes it really easy for me because he keeps putting out incredible performances in equally amazing movies, and his performance as Hugh Glass in The Revenant is no exception.
Overall, other than Leo’s performance, the thing that struck me the most about The Revenant was how director Iñárritu’s style made you feel like you were there, not watching a movie. When “there” is 19th century frozen, battle-ridden wilderness, that’s certainly saying a lot. Iñárritu favors long, winding shots that often give you a total 360 view of what’s going on. So instead of breaking up shots, the camera just moves around as if you yourself are looking around. There is also a decent amount of shots showing the camera almost being interacted with; both blood and breath end up on the camera lens. As someone who wears glasses, there are few things that subconsciously make me feel like I’m living the action as much as seeing a lens fog up.
But obviously, the cornerstone of The Revenant is Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance. For most of the movie, Leo carries all of his scenes entirely on his own. When there’s a movie with a lack of dialogue and actors and/or you’re mostly following one actor and their actions, I think a good way to determine how successful a performance was is by how compelling they were. I wanted to watch Leo trudge through the wilderness, figure out ways to survive. It was interesting, even if he didn’t have anyone to talk to. Watching his face shows that he doesn’t need anyone to act off of in order to act beautifully. I think the scene I was most impressed with was the now-infamous bear attack. Glass being attacked by a bear is the real inciting action for the whole story, so it’s important. The way it was shot was incredible and so tense; first, like Glass, you only see two bear cubs – with no mother. That never bodes well, and only after the camera pans around the forest do you realize, at the same time as Glass, that the mama bear is behind Glass, ready to attack. Now, I’m not an expert in acting, so I don’t know how you’re supposed to perform a scene where you’re mauled by a bear. We know Leo wasn’t really mauled by a bear, so what do you do – scream a lot? How much acting actually goes into a scene like that? If you’re Leo – a whole lot. In the hands of another actor, the scene would have looked fake or not that vicious. But when Leo screams, it’s from his gut, from his heart. Tears come out of his eyes the moment the bear claws at him, he grits his teeth as the bear throws him around, he tries to suppress his moans as his eyes bug out while the bear stands on him. When you have a bear attack scene where A.) You know the bear attack is not real and B.) You know the character must survive the attack given the context of the movie, and you still manage to make the scene horrific and terrifying, I think everyone involved has really done an incredible job.
And Tom Hardy was sort of perfect as Fitzgerald, a trapper that is dumb, smart, and dangerous all at once. I couldn’t help but think that he sounded exactly like a character from Kroll Show‘s “Pawnsylvania,” but other than that I was totally engaged with his performance. He was the perfect mix of being a bit of comic relief while also being the scariest character of all.
Obviously, if Leo does not win the Oscar for this it will be clear evidence of my long-suspected Don’t-Give-Leo-The-Oscar conspiracy, because he was incredible. And all in all, I really thought the whole movie was incredible and I highly recommend seeing it in theaters – especially if the theater is cold – so you get the full effect of feeling like you’re within the movie.
It’s hard to go to a movie like this and not expect the best. It’s from a director that won an Oscar last year, actors that are always at least nominated for awards, and it sounds like it was almost impossible to film. Even knowing and thinking about all that, I still walked away from The Revenant loving it!
I think the biggest thing about the movie is it’s slow pace. However, it did not feel like it took forever to watch the movie. I think the way the movie used time and nature to really demonstrate how hopeless humans can be in nature really made the story compelling. Apart from the bear attack and issues with Tom Hardy, the way the camera used nature to dwarf the characters in this film was very impressive. It never felt like anyone had an upper hand in this long revenge plot. Like Birdman with people walking through doors, the shot we continued to see in The Revenant was looking up at trees as well as people walking with giant mountains behind them. I really like those shots though because each time the trees or mountains were slightly different. It seems weird but it was a nice small way that kept my interest in the film and help make the time really fly by when watching.
I remember too well being really into 21 Grams; I really love that Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is still in Hollywood’s limelight. After seeing Birdman and now The Revenant, I really want to go back and watch his earlier work.