When we look at the history of the Oscars it is abundantly clear that in the past years a certain type of movie tended to receive nominations or, even better went home with the award for Best Picture. Movies that one way or another took into account (American) history, and movies that dealt with a sensitive, perhaps even tricky historical issue. Taking this into account, it is not in the least remarkable that The Revenant has been nominated for Best Picture. The Revenant explores the struggles of settling in America in the early stages; to an extent deals with racism towards the native Americans; and to top it all of has a protagonist who is an all American hero who refuses to give up.
A quick overview of what’s what. The Revenant is the story of Hugh Glass, an American pioneer who lost his wife and tries to make the best of it with his indian son. During a mission their camp is attacked by a hostile group of indians which eventually results in Glass being left for dead. As such, the title is pretty self-explanatory: a revenant is someone who supposedly comes back from the dead.
Considering that Glass is the main character it takes a long time before he actually becomes the camera’s focus point. The reason Glass was left for dead is because he got mauled by a momma bear, as a result he is in pain pretty much all the time. Constantly being in pain is a certain state of mind you have to have to show this in an authentic manner; Leonardo diCaprio deserves that nomination and possibly even a win. His facial expressions are vital to his performance; the agony it portrays in the different situations he finds himself in are strikingly telling.
Yet, Leo would be nowhere without the make-up department; in order to convincingly show his pain his recovering wounds needed to be credible. What is a shame is the continuity errors. For a massive production like this movie it is a shame such errors are made. While I recognize the difficulty of making every scene fit perfectly to the next it should not be the case that wounds disappear and reappear. Sadly, it is not just in the make-up department where these errors were made, also in the staging of scenes there are omissions of items. While the average viewer might not notice this, there are some obvious faults that just should not occur in such large-scale production.
A character that may go unnoticed in Leo’s whirlwind of adventures, but one that gives the viewer quite an emotional performance is that of Will Poulter‘s Bridger. From crybaby in the last Narnia movie Poulter has grown into bigger (The Maze Runner) and in this case, more serious roles. It is almost a shame that diCaprio steals the show from perfectly good acting by Poulter. However, this role may open up new opportunities for the young actor.
As stated above it is, in my eyes, a certain type of movie that stands a chance of getting a nomination for Best Picture. The Revenant fits this profile. It shows a vital piece of American history where a white American endures agonizing pain, freezing cold, and harrowing heartache and will do anything to make things right. In 2014 director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Picture with Birdman. In a few weeks we’ll know if he gets acknowledged for yet another masterpiece.