Why was Jack Mathews so sure ‘Birdman’ would win the Oscar for Best Picture?

While most Oscar pundits flip-flopped between “Boyhood” and “Birdman” when trying to predict Best Picture, veteran guru Jack Mathews never doubted that “Birdman” would soar off with the laurels. He asserted that opinion strongly during our first podcast on Feb. 5 and now reiterates his view in our post-Oscars chat below.

“As a longtime observer of these things, I get a feeling of what an Oscar movie is and ‘Boyhood‘ never, ever felt to me like an Oscar movie,” he says. “It felt like a critics’ movie.

“Also, I didn’t believe the movie would play as well on television as it did at those media screenings where people saw it right after reading about what an incredible achievement it was — which it was — so they were really wired to love that movie. And did — and I don’t blame them at all. But five months later when the movie was watched on screeners being sent out to academy members, it didn’t play the same way.

“‘Birdman,’ on the other hand, had Oscar written all over it. I remember when I saw it, I sent an email to a friend and said, ‘This is it! Here’s the Oscar movie!'”

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However, Mathews can’t take credit for being perfectly clairvoyant. Early on during Oscar season, he picked Michael Keaton to win Best Actor “and, unfortunately, never gave up. Keaton was, as Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu called him, ‘the maestro of “Birdman.”‘  That was one where I voted with my heart.

Eddie Redmayne won because it was the ‘My Left Foot’ phenomenon. It was a physical performance. I imagine actors seeing that and thinking, ‘That’s acting!'”

Listen to our podcast chat below. Do a search at iTunes Store for “Gold Derby” to subscribe to our podcast series or check out our channel at Libsyn.

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