Stanley Scorsese’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hello, my fellow followers and readers! Starting from March 5th, I’m going to review a single film that has won the Oscars. Whether they won Best Picture or they were nominated. And this will go on every Friday as I handpick every title until the Oscars will air on Sunday night April 25th. So for my first film, I will review The Revenant from 2015!
The Revenant is inspired on true events as the film follows Hugh Glass, a frontiersman who goes on a expedition with a group of fur trappers. But one after being mauled by a bear it’s a brutal fight for survival after the team left him for dead.
Let’s see, where do I begin? This started in the fall of 2015, where we were witnessing Matt Damon being stranded on Mars in The Martian, Adonis Creed’s son following his father’s footsteps in Creed, and how the entire American housing market collapsed due to how dirty the people were in The Big Short. And at the same time, there were talks about Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting his Oscar after losing Best Actor 3 times. After I got to watch the trailer for The Revenant, I was floored with excitement while having so much expectations of experiencing a cinematic masterpiece! So after watching the film twice in theaters, I was already pressing a buzzer inside my head to give all the Oscars to it. I was very happy seeing it win it’s awards, while being disappointed seeing most of them being given to Mad Max: Fury Road. Which, in my honest opinion, is a highly overrated film.
Let’s kick off with the positives of this film. Now, I will start off my saying it has incredible performances from the rest of the cast! You got amazing acting from Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, and Forrest Goodluck. DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a hunter who knows his way around the hunting areas in the Dakotas, so he guides a fur trapping company during the winter of the 1820s. One day after he’s viciously and brutally attacked by a grizzly bear, his team knows the risk of having him slow them down while being hunted by the Arikara, so the team’s captain pays whoever volunteers to stay with Glass until he dies. Hardy plays John Fitzgerald, a racist towards Native Americans and disgruntled trapper, who was once attacked by a group of Natives, agrees to stay with Glass, but he attempts to smother him to death. But then, Glass’s mixed race son catches him and attempts to rat him out, but he stabs him to death. So Glass vows revenge on Fitzgerald while getting back to his team.
Again, the acting from the cast was terrific! DiCaprio truly gives his all for The Revenant, for him to play a character who struggles to survive in the brutal cold is fascinating, and yet crucial. I know this will be the only Oscar he will ever earn, but if I had to give an opinion for what film he should’ve won an Oscar for, is The Wolf of Wall Street for his infamous performance of Jordan Belfort. Hardy is equally great to play this antagonistic character with a chip on his shoulder. I believe this is his first Oscar nomination, and I doubt he’ll get another one, but only time will tell. Also he should’ve won for playing Fitzgerald, he deserved it more than Mark Rylance, for Bridge of Spies and Sylvester Stallone for Creed. But you know what? Tom Hardy is too good for the Oscars!
Alejandro G. Iñárritu. A filmmaker who no one has ever heard of before he came out with 21 Grams, Babel, Birdman, and The Revenant. I wasn’t a fan of his first 2 films, but after seeing his 2 Oscar winning films, I had high hopes of seeing him direct more films. And to be honest, I need to look into his Spanish language films Biutiful and Amores Perros. After seeing what Iñárittu did with Birdman, I was ready to see what he was doing here. He actually goes through extreme lengths of making a real piece of cinema by actually filming in harsh weather conditions, having these actors walk across cold lakes, and having total control of the cast and crew. And adding some visual effects. You could say he was like the modern Stanley Kubrick! And he won another Best Directing Oscar for his creative and talented direction!
Emmanuel Lebezki, this legendary and incredible cinematographer knows how to film long takes of the wilderness under the influence of Alejandro G. Iñárittu. After winning 2 Academy Awards for his work in Gravity and Birdman, he still proves to be an amazing DP! And winning a 3rd Oscar for his work in The Revenant! Making him the 8th person to win 3 Oscars for Best Cinematography along with well known people like Robert Richardson, the late great Conrad Hall, and Vittorio Storaro. The score is still beyond incredible, it’s freaking beautiful! It still grabs you by the soul and tell you when you watch this film, this is going to be the most melancholic, atmospheric, and heart pounding music you’ve ever heard in a film! It’s shocking how this was snubbed at the Oscars, but it was nominated at the Golden Globes. Did you know Hildur Gudnadottir was the solo cellist for The Revenant? Before she was popular for her haunting score in Joker and Chernobyl, she did some work for this film, and then Sicario and Prisoners. I’m guessing she did the last piece of music for the end credits, if I’m not mistaken. But now that I’ve said all my positives, let’s get down to the negatives.
While everything in here is perfection, I will say this has maybe 1 or 2 problems. It’s mostly for the style over substance. The highlights of The Revenant are mostly its acting, directing, costume design, and cinematography. But it’s another example of that “Look at me, I’m an artist” by not breaking the runtime down for the regular movie going audience who were going for a revenge story. Now for cinephiles like me it’s not a big deal, but for people who want a well shot and well made film with a revenge story it’s a let down for the runtime. Like how I explained on trimming the fat in my second review of Da 5 Bloods. But while I don’t have a problem with the runtime, I can understand why people weren’t enthusiastic about it for their first time viewings.
Overall guys, I still love The Revenant! I rewatched it yesterday to see if anything has changed from my love and appreciation for it, but it hasn’t. It’s one of the best films Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy have starred in, one of the best films Alejandro G. Iñárittu has directed, and one of the best visually shot films ever made in years! I was disappointed when the Oscars gave the Best Picture award to Spotlight, which is an incredible film, but it didn’t deserve to win. If some of you readers haven’t seen this film, and want to have a real cinematic experience, I highly recommend picking this up on 4K or on Blu-ray for your collection, and enjoy it!
I’m giving The Revenant 4.5 stars!