1. Michael Keaton - It’s his film and he owns it, 100%. A stunning, fascinating, complex performance. Dark, twisted, laser-focused yet wild and raw.
2. Emma Stone - Unexpectedly matches Keaton’s madness in terms of a wild, unpredictable performance. Perfect casting for Keaton’s daughter, she looks the part, and more importantly, her performance is deeply complex and compelling.
3. The Cinematography - Director Inarritu and DP Lubezki successfully articulate the rawness and energy of live theater with mind-blowing cinematography that moves so brilliantly and winds its way through the story. This is a must-see for the theater. Seamless camerawork and editing makes it feel like it’s all one shot, like no two shots are the same. It also means that the performances are wildly organic and untethered. It’s inspiring, it’s provocative, it’s refreshing.
4. The Whole Freaking Supporting Cast - Yeah, I already mentioned Emma Stone. But, everyone else is equally amazing. Edward Norton. Zach Galifianakis. Naomi Watts. Amy Ryan. They’re all totally kick-ass performances, especially Norton and Galifianakis. Usually, I’d say, yeah, you should go. Keaton’s in it. Stone’s in it. But the supporting cast is so strong, you’re pretty much obligated to go, you don’t want to miss this type of chemistry and ensemble work.
5. What It’s About - This film is so multi-layered, so meaningful in so many different ways, and these intermediary scenes between Norton and the critic (the incomparable Lindsay Duncan), and then Keaton and the critic, are just sublime. The Critic versus The Artist. Celebrity versus Artistry. Dreams versus Reality. Truth versus Pretend. Family. Community. Self-Love. Self-Loathing. Fear. Courage. The “Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.” Ultimately, there’s a connection with each character. I felt like I knew Stone’s character, I knew girls like that; I knew Keaton’s character, I grew up in the theater, I know men like that, I know artists like that, I am like that. There’s an immediate emotional engagement from the very start of the film. You see yourself reflected in the story and in the characters.
6. The Final Shot - This is pretty much how I felt after the movie. It was magical, surreal, sublime, unforgettable.
I just want to live in a big city that feels like a small town, walkable, bikeable, very close to the ocean. Cobble stone streets and old buildings a must. Cheap apartments with hardwoods floors, affordable 3 story homes painted bright colors, temperature hovering perpetually in the mid 70s. Plethora of charming bars and restaurants, good pizza available for delivery, bookstores and independent movie theaters fucking everywhere. A community of liberal, artistic people from diverse backgrounds. Gardens and parks and uncrowded beaches. No open container laws harshing my picnic vibes. Flourishing libraries and art museums, thriving school system. A place for painters and poets and writers and teachers who just want to fucking relax in a hammock when they’re not making new things. A sun-dappled somewhere with whiskey-gingered weekends, and wrap-around porches, and lazy late night walks along the shore.