Just How Crazy is Alejandro González Iñárritu?

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

The director of Birdman returns with The Revenant.

When you can make anything possible, can anything still amaze? That’s the problem Hollywood’s faced as its CGI extravaganzas have paradoxically left us feeling less amazed than exhausted. To impress audiences inured to digital wizardry, some filmmakers are relying on feats of old-fashioned directorial endurance. Last year, the race for best picture came down to a movie shot over the course of 12 years (Richard Linklater’s Boyhood) and one filmed in what seemed like a single take: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, which won the statuette. For his follow-up, frontier saga The Revenant, Iñárritu has doubled down on bravado. He filmed in the forbidding wilds of Canada and Argentina, committing to two grueling (and budget-busting) principles: shooting in sequence and using only daylight. Iñárritu even got his star, the famously vegetarian Leonardo DiCaprio, to eat an actual bison liver for the sake of authenticity. The result is a film that astonishes, its most impressive effect of all being Mother Nature herself. In theaters December 25.