The prowess of Mexican filmmakers was evident again Thursday when the team of director Alejandro G. Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki were nominated in their respective categories for the brutal and mesmerizing "The Revenant."
The two won Oscars last year for Inarritu's "Birdman," in which Michael Keaton plays an actor craving a bit of professional respect and looking to redeem himself by starring in a Broadway show. If Lubezki wins an Academy Award at the ceremony on Feb. 28, it will be his third in as many years. He won for best cinematography in 2014 for his work with Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron in "Gravity."
Shot in Canada and Argentina, "The Revenant," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a morality tale of Native Americans, trappers and one man's grueling survival against the freezing cold, violence, the harsh terrain and a protective mama bear in what is now South Dakota. Times film critic Kenneth Turan said the direction and cinematography distilled "so much verisimilitude and beauty that it compels us to pay more attention to this glimpse of a dark, unsettling kill-or-be-killed world more than we otherwise would."
The last director to win back-to-back Oscars was Joseph L. Mankiewicz for 1949's "A Letter to Three Wives" and 1950's "All About Eve."
When he learned of his nomination, Inarritu said: "We gave it our all on this film and this appreciation from the academy means a lot to me and my colleagues who made it possible. Champagne and Mezcal will run tonight."