The past two years have been a good two for Mexican movie-maker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, from his Best Picture Winner/Best Director Winning film Birdman, to his survival movie The Revenant for which he won his second Best Director award. Now that the dust has settled on his double whammy of films and the hype has died down it’s time to look back at the work of Inarritu and see if it did live up to the hype.
Amores perros (2000)
A story of interwoven woe and chilling performances, Inarritu’s debut film is a hard hitting kick in the face. Connected by a car crash and loaded with dog symbology, this film features an incredible performance by Gael Garcia Bernal while the three connected tales each entrance us with a realistic tale. The subtitles and the excellent plot work together to engage the viewer, rather than creating a sense of distance, as is sometimes the case with foreign-language films.
21 Grams (2003)
Mind boggling mixed up time lines drama that has some career-best turns from it’s cast, one that includes Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston, Eddie Marsen and Melissa Leo. It’s a film that requires more than one watch, and Del Toro steals the show in his oscar nominated performance, but it’s a rewarding drama if you can get through the whole thing.
Nominated for seven Academy Awards including best director and picture, as well as two for supporting actress (One of them being Pacific Rim’s Rinko Kikuchi). Set in Morocco, United States, Mexico and Japan the cast is vast and star studded included Brad Pitt. It’s biblical and has a very “the world is connected” feel to it, but Inarritu is at full command with his film and knows how to marshall things.
Grounded by an Oscar nominated performance by Javier Bardem, this Spanish language film works purely because the director has an actor who is someone who acts with his face not with dialogue. Like his later collaboration with Tom Hardy, Bardem is an actor who relies on his face to tell you everything you need to know. A life of pain and suffering is shown with the slightest of movements and it makes for a harrowing, gorgeous film.
Birdman or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)
A film that finally showed how much of a legend Michael Keaton is in this meta story of an actor trying to reclaim some glory after leaving a superhero franchise behind. Done as one long take, the film is showy and that sometimes gets in the way of the story but when Keaton is this good – and his supporting players: Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts – this good, then the film works. It’s Keaton’s show, and it’s a show that clearly has Hollywood opening their eyes with his follow up work being just a appealing. Here’s waiting on his turn in Spider-Man: Homecoming… another Birdman.
The Revenant (2015)
The film that finally won Leonardo DiCaprio his little golden man is a triumph of Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubeski’s cinematography as he shows nature as the real villain. Of course the whole film is acted well, even when the film becomes little more than a film about nature. But the bear attack is a sequence to be rivalled, and DiCaprio got that elusive gong. Good on him.
Paul Klein is a Film Studies Graduate from London, former writer at The Metropolist.