In July of last year, I wrote a review for the trailer of this film here. In that review, I made a bold statement, that this project would be a 'top tier' film that may just get snubbed star Leonardo Dicaprio, an academy award nomination.
Six months later, I have finally had the opportunity to view said film, and I am proud to call myself a prophet!
In the preview, I also stated that the film could be a blockbuster that would sit well with critics and members of the academy. Here we are, just one day after the films expanded release date, and it has already raked in over $2.3 million dollars, while critics have reluctantly called it an Oscar contender.
I'm just here to give you five reasons why that reluctancy is unwarranted.
1. Its Naturalistic Cinematography
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki created this film's organic atmosphere by only shooting with natural light and by actually putting the actors in the environment of the factual stories' basis.
The film was shot on an 80-day schedule partly in Canada but mostly in southern Argentina. The actors' hardest job was not reciting lines or getting along with each other (although there was friction during filming), it was getting along with nature.
The actors battled sub-zero temperatures throughout the process of filming basically putting them in the survival mindset of the characters that they were portraying.
Considering all of the beautiful imagery that was presented in this film, I'd be baffled if it didn't get nominated for best cinematography, an award that Lubezki is familiar with as he just won last year for Birdman.
Now, we can examine what was done with that imagery.
2. Well Rehearsed Scenes
In several post-film interviews the makers of this film really stressed the importance of rehearsal, and it is shown in the films well choreographed action sequences.
Without this imperative practice this film could have easily felt rushed or fake. But instead it felt natural and authentic giving the audience the aura of a documentary more than that of a blockbuster film. A lot of the films' scenes like the one above, are even reminiscent of classic american westerns.
The success of these sequences can be attributed to Inarritu's style and his use of long takes and chronological directing. His technique even makes the film a candidate for one of best action films of the year.
Without Inarritu this film would have lacked a lot of passion. The finished project that he has presented to us is easily enough to get him a nomination for best director, but even the most stunning of films need solid writing efforts to back them up.
3. Simplistic, yet challenging plot
While the main plot of this film mainly covers the act of revenge. It was the emotional, humanistic aspect of the film that made it stand out. Watching Hugh Glass' relationship with his son and the turmoil that they fight through makes you root for their survival.
This gives us viewers something concrete to connect with. Topics like dedication, love, and desperation are attached to this film, to make the viewers empathize with the films characters and it is done very tastefully.
It also subtly displays America's beginnings with the interactions of the French and Native Americans. The film exhibits the territorial passion that the Native Americans carried during the 1800's against that of the hungry violent passion of the Europeans.
Without this emphatic use of emotion and depth this film could have easily become another basic thriller. These factors can be credited to co-writers Inarritu and Mark L. Smith aka nominees for best adapted screenplay, but what is a screenplay without good actors?
4. Supporting Cast
There was a sense of brotherhood, and loyalty, disrupted by deception within the confounds of this films cast. At the films start, the audience gets the impression that this crew has been working together for a long time. They're already familiar with each others flaws and back stories which saves the audience from having to be introduced to each character individually.
Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Forrest Goodluck and Domhnall Gleeson all have impressive supporting performances. Hardy bringing his perfected villainous role, while Poulter and Gleeson both provided morally driven characters that were essential to the films plot. While Goodluck gives a stunning performance in his breakout role as Hugh Glass' son Hawk.
Without the development of these characters the film would lack a reacting energy to keep the film interesting.
While Tom Hardys role may seem familiar, you can tell that his role came with a lot of rigorous effort. He was convincing and menacing enough to actually persuade the audience into thinking that he just might come out of this alive.
His efforts should not go unnoticed. Ladies and gentlemen, a nominee for best actor in a supporting role, which leads me to my final reason why this film is Oscar worthy.
5. Its Leading Man!
On route to the hardest performance of his career the actor was tested in a number of ways. From studying with doctors to learn ancient healing techniques, to eating raw meat in a scene where Hugh Glass eats a bison's liver, Dicaprio's dedication was top notch.
Leo was even required to learn two native american languages, Pawnee and Arikara for scenes with his son and wife. These things in addition to battling frostbite in freezing temperatures in Argentina are all examples of Dicaprio's commitment as an artist.
The efforts of his that were more impressive to me were his physical acting and nonverbal movements. He was crawling for a lot of the film, which has become a big topic brung up by critics who think he isn't deserving of the Oscar. I believe that is actually just Inarritu staying faithful to the source material, the novel of the same name by Michael Punke in which Glass crawled and limped over 200 miles.
I think that is even more of a reason he is deserving. He did a terrific job of portraying pain after the bear attack, and an even better job of conveying emotion after the tragic loss of his family. I think it is astounding that he can take a role with little dialogue and still make the audience sympathize for his character.
Leonardo Dicaprio provides a classic performance in this true test of human endurance (both physical and mental).
I think a nomination for best actor is almost automatic at this point but let this be my message as to why the year of the Oscar drought for Leonardo Dicaprio should end in 2016. If you haven't seen The Revenant get to a theater ASAP.