(Spoilers for early events in the film)
Will the acting bloc of the Academy of Motion Pictures award Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar for sheer endurance? [Yes.] Set in an early 19th century America where a group of fur trappers have to improvise their survival when first their camp is attacked by Pawnee warriors and then their experienced scout Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is brutally mauled by a bear. Recovering on a make-shift stretcher, Glass witnesses the murder of his half-Pawnee son by his rival Fitzgerald (an excellent Tom Hardy) and the rest of the movie is a nigh incredible story of Glass, near-death and abandoned, making his way back to the trading post to exact his revenge.
Director Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñàrritu (Birdman) has crafted a small epic of a film in what was a reportedly brutal shoot in the forests of Alberta and British Columbia. The initial Pawnee attack scene is something of a masterpiece, and the bear mauling scene is gut wrenching. It will not win the hearts of those still hoping for films of this genre where the First Nations characters get to have their own stories rather than serving as foils for white protagonists (myself included). Even so, the craft of the film is undeniable.