Give credit where credit is due

After recently watching “The Revenant” at Austin CineMagic 7, my dad overheard two people discussing how it was one of the most boring movies they’d ever seen.

Is it a tad long? Yes. Is it a movie certain people won’t enjoy? Yes (it’s far from a fun film). Is it a movie only some people will appreciate? Yes.

But the film is also visually stunning, artistic and deserving of its 12 Academy Award nominations.

The film and subsequent comments on it being boring made me realize a few things:

 

Deserving of praise

I wish more people could simply not like a movie, while still appreciating its value and quality.

Will I see “The Revenant” again? Probably not. The movie is a bit of a challenge: It’s violent, not uplifting and appeals to specific tastes. But that doesn’t cloud the accomplishments of director Alejandro Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

Bleak subject matter aside, you’re unlikely to find a better visual film. Iñárritu and Lubezki filmed the movie using only natural light, which makes for a great, unique view of a beautiful landscape shot in remote parts of Canada and Argentina.

A scene with horseback riders carrying torches through a forest is stunning.

You don’t have to like it, but give credit where credit is due.

Leo can act

If I’m to follow my own argument, I have to finally admit it: Leonardo DiCaprio is a good actor.

If/when he wins his best actor Academy Award this year, he’ll deserve it.

Now let me tell you why it took me this long to admit this: I grew up with “Titanic” Leo. He was the heartthrob women were fawning over leading into my teenage years. So it was naturally at the time for guys my age to adamantly dislike him and cling to that sentiment even as he took on better roles, became Martin Scorsese’s favorite leading man, and had great turns in movies like “Inception,” “Gangs of New York,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It’s time to fully give in. He’s good, and we can’t even use the excuse of liking him only in Scorsese movies anymore.

 

Villains make the movie

Iñárritu got the best out of all his actors.

Along with DiCaprio, Tom Hardy nails his role as John Fitzgerald, the man who leaves DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass in the wilderness to die. Hardy is nominated for best supporting actor. He would be more than deserving if he wins the Oscar, but Sylvester Stallone is the overwhelming favorite for his turn as Rocky Balboa in “Creed.”

Though you rarely agree with Fitzgerald’s actions in “The Revenant,” the viewer can at least understand his motivation. Like Glass, Fitzgerald is driven by a need to survive, but his drive is a far more selfish. Though he ends up being rather dislikable, he’s still a complex villain.

The year of the survival story

Has anyone else realized two of the biggest movies up for awards this year have a lot of similarities … but one is much more fun.

Both “The Revenant” and “The Martian” center around a survival story with the lead struggling to overcome hardship at every turn, both place them in unforgiving conditions, both make the men use ingenuity to survive, both star a big named actor, both actors are nominated for best actor and both feature acclaimed directors.

“The Revenant” and “The Martian” make it the year of the survival movie; however, “The Martian” is a much more fun film.

You could also classify other best picture nominees “Room” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” as survival stories.

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