Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has won the director Oscar for Birdman, his ground-breaking comedy-drama exploring inner voices and the desperation of acting. The Mexican director won over Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game.
Linklater and Boyhood had been regarded as the awards-season front-runners until recent weeks. The unique nature of Birdman, with its long takes and intensity, has elevated the status of the latter.
The Oscar win for Inarritu comes two weeks after he took the Directors Guild of America trophy – one of the top indicators of Oscar sentiment with all but seven of the DGA winners since 1948 going on to take the director Oscar.
Inarritu’s best director win makes it two years in a row that the honor has gone to a Mexican filmmaker. Fellow Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron won both trophies last year for Gravity.
This was the first Academy Award for Inarritu, 51, whose darkly satirical take on show business stars Michael Keaton as a washed-up, former superhero actor trying to make an improbable comeback with his own Broadway play.
In his acceptance, Inarritu evoked big laughs by noting that he was wearing “the real Michael Keaton tighty whities” for good luck, referring to the underwear the actor wore in the film. “But it worked,” he added. “Thanks, Michael!”
Inarritu also took the best picture prize as a producer of Birdman, along with a screenwriting win in the original category. He was nominated previously for Amores Perros and Biutiful in the foreign language category, and for director and producer of Babel.
“I am very, very thankful, grateful, humbly honoured by the Academy for this incredible recognition,” Inarritu said. “This is crazy.” He praised his fellow best director nominees, saying “our work will only be judged by time.”
On Sean Penn’s ‘green card’ joke: "I found it hilarious"
During the Oscar ceremony, some people on Twitter didn’t take kindly to Sean Penn's joke when he announced Birdman as best picture at the Academy Awards. “Who gave this son of a bitch a green card?” said Penn, referring to writer/director/producer Inarritu, who directed Penn in 21 Grams.
But asked backstage about it, Inarritu said, “I found it hilarious.” He went on to say, “Sean and I had that kind of brutal relationship where only true friendship can survive. When I was directing him in 21 Grams, he was always making jokes ... I made a lot of very tough jokes (to him) that I will not tell you.”
In short, Inarritu said, “I didn’t find it offensive, I thought it was very funny.” Inarritu was also asked if he was really wearing Keaton’s underwear from the film for good luck, as he had joked about in his Oscar speech. “I wish I was in a more intimate setting to prove it,” he quipped. – Reuters/Variety.com