Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has won the director Oscar for “Birdman,” his groundbreaking 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.
Inarritu directed “Birdman” to be shown as a single shot with production taking place in 23 days in New York City during spring 2013 with a budget of $16.5 million.
The Oscar win for Inarritu comes two weeks after he took the DGA 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. Fellow Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron won both trophies last year for “Gravity.”
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.”
But in a sign of the times for A-list feature talent, the Mexican hyphenate already has a commitment to write and direct several episodes of a new TV series for Starz, which promises to have the magical realist touches that have made Inarritu’s features so distinctive.
“The One Percent” is set to star Ed Harris, Hilary Swank and Ed Helms in the story of a struggling farmer, played by Helms, who encounters a bizarre twist of fate that might save or ruin his family business.
Starz and producer Media Rights Capital unveiled the series deal with Inarritu and his “Birdman” writer-collaborators Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris and Nicolas Giacobone last August, as buzz on the movie destined to be crowned 2014’s best picture began to build. MRC previously worked with Inarritu on his 2006 film “Babel.”
“One Percent” received a 10-episode straight-to-series order, as is Starz’s custom. Inarritu and the trio have been working on scripts for the entire first season in a writers room that opened several months ago in New York City. At present, Inarritu is also juggling directing duties on a high-profile Western for New Regency, “The Revenant,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy.
The plan is to start production on “One Percent” early next year in a location TBD. Inarritu will direct at least the first two episodes to set the visual style of the series. The foursome are committed to driving the creative vision of the series, but they are likely to recruit some seasoned TV producers to help steer the ship once lensing begins.
The plan is to begin shooting “One Percent” by the first half of 2016, which should fit nicely with Inarritu’s schedule if “Revenant” winds up sending him on the awards-season circuit again. Pic is set for a Christmas Day debut.