'Birdman' (Oct. 17)
For me, Michael Keaton is one of the most underrated actors in film. (An Oscar for Beetlejuice? I'd have given it to him.) So I'm jazzed that he's digging into a role that should put him front and center in the race for Best Actor. Keaton, the former Batman, plays Riggan Thomson, a has-been who once hit it big as the high-flying Birdman. Now Riggan is trying to score a comeback in a Broadway show that pits him against a fellow actor (Edward Norton). The funny twist is a bracing change for director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams), who marvels at how Keaton can handle "comedy and empathy." It's already wowed crowds at the Venice and Telluride film festivals; word on the circuit is that cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, an Oscar winner for Gravity, shot the thing to look like it's flowing in one long, continuous take. Innovation scares the suits and some audiences. I'm in.