And the Oscar goes to…Leonardo DiCaprio!
That is the initial thought I had as I walked out of the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood a few weeks ago after watching the beautifully-shot film “The Revenant” directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass who is mauled by a bear, then left for dead by members of his own hunting team including Fitzgerald (played wonderfully by Tom Hardy). Glass, motivated by the love he had for his late wife and son, undertakes a 200-mile journey to seek revenge from the man who killed his son and betrayed him: Fitzgerald (played wonderfully by Tom Hardy). The journey that this film showcases is a story of love and redemption.
Let’s start off with the film’s centerpiece: Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio has blown away audiences for decades now showing us the in-depth, emotional, and challenging roles that he can transform into. And his performance as Glass is no different. The journey and the pain and torture DiCaprio endures throughout the film seems to show how far he can go to win an Oscar. Although he rarely speaks in the film, you certainly feel the agony, suffering, and determination that DiCaprio has in pursuit of Fitzgerald. DiCaprio simply gives it his all in going the distance to achieve revenge. The obstacles and attacks he suffers throughout the film seems to be representative of his real-life hardship of winning an Oscar. However, come February, I believe he will finally earn it for his outstanding portrayal.
Hardy also delivers a wonderful supporting performance of the winking devil, hot head Fitzgerald who kills Glass’s son. Although it may seem Hardy has gone too far into his character by being inaudible at time in his deep southern accent, it is astonishing to watch him perform as the cruel, evil antagonist who is set out on getting rid of Glass. Hardy definitely has a chance of scoring a Best Supporting Actor nomination but may be overlooked as this is seen as Leo’s triumphant film.
Lastly, the direction and cinematography are absolutely beautiful. Alejandro films this picture with such delicacy capturing the horror and bloodiness of the attacks throughout the film between the natives and hunters. He didn’t film this with one continuous shot like he did with his Oscar winning film “Birdman” however there are occasional moments where you do see extended shots depicting the stunning scenery and marvelous natural light usage. This is especially shown in the opening attack scene as Glass’s group is boarding the boat to leave the area. Emanuel Lubezki also re-joins Alejandro after working on Birdman. Lubezki’s photography in this film is simply art work. Every frame is perfect and breathtaking. The natural lighting is very powerful and crisp. The frequent upward camera angles toward the trees are alluring and fascinating. Lubezki has won the Best Cinematography Oscar twice in a row for “Gravity” in 2014 and “Birdman” in 2015. He is a lock yet again in 2016 for his top-notch work in “The Revenant”.
Overall, The Revenant is a beautifully-crafted period film from all aspects. The production design, costume design, cinematography, and direction truly come together to delver an epic tour-de-force story on an adventure seeking redemption. But the true success in this film is Leonardo DiCaprio who delivers a performance in which the entertainment industry and audiences across the world are all thinking: It is finally his time to win an Academy Award.
I give this film a B.