Michael Keaton, right, in Birdman (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
If you haven’t already seen Birdman, do yourself a favor and see it right now. It’s already been nominated for a slew of Oscars and serves as Michael Keaton’s comeback. Yet, oddly enough, despite all the nominations, including best actor, director, picture, supporting actor and actress and best screenplay, there’s one glaring nomination that’s missing. One so ingrained into the DNA of the film that it wouldn’t be as effective without it. I am, of course, talking about the score.
This past Thursday I was lucky enough to catch a viewing of Birdman at the Ace theater. The theater was originally constructed in the 20s but was recently restored, Birdman being it’s maiden screening. Though I’d seen Birdman once already, this screening was special because it featured a live score. Now, when I first heard about the live score, I was expecting a full orchestra, conductor, the whole deal. But when I entered, I saw the stage and beneath it, a single drum set.
The score, written by Antonio Sanchez, consists of drums. Only drums. The idea by itself is hard to fathom without seeing it first hand, and, in fact, Keaton showed up for a surprise introduction of the film and, in his few minute monologue, joked about how Inarritu pitched him the score. “I want drums. Just drums cabron”. Jokes aside, Sanchez’s score is not only, in my opinion, the best score of the year, but probably the best since Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score to The Social Network.
Sanchez manages to inject rhythm and life into the beats, jagged and smooth, short yet lingering. It’s extremely complex and almost seems to hit lyrical notes in tandem with the story. Being able to look at Sanchez play took the experience to a whole other level. It was both live and not live. Witnessing his movements and the motions that go into creating that music, in a sense, made me feel more connected with the showing and served for a fuller experience in general.
People have been talking about snubs in regard to Selma and Foxcatcher. But I would venture that Sanchez’s snub is the deepest of all. How many awards has Hans Zimmer won? Alexander Desplat? The classic strings orchestra score has been done time and time before, which isn’t to say that they aren’t deserving, yet in todays day and age of reboots and sequels and adaptations, one would hope we would honor and recognize new techniques and visionaries. Sanchez’s score is most certainly one of a kind and will be remembered for years to come. Like I said in the beginning, if you haven’t seen Birdman yet, go. Now.
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Currently in theaters.
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