Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, featuring a career best performance from Michael Keaton, is now considered a serious contender to win Best Picture at the 74th Academy Awards in February 2015. Keaton plays a once-famous actor known for portraying an iconic superhero who struggles to mount a new Broadway play.

BirdmanMichael Keaton is the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Actor, for 'Birdman'

The film made serious waves on the festival circuit over the summer and gets a limited release in the U.S on Friday (October 10, 2014). Richard Linklater's ingenious movie Boyhood remains the favourite to win cinema's major prize - available at around 2/1 with most bookmakers - though Birdman now shares second-favouritism with Angelina Jolie's Unbroken, starring Jack O'Connell. 

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On top of that, Keaton - a man whose recent credits offer little insight into the actor's true talents - is now the clear 6/4 favorite to win Best Actor at the Oscars. He'll be pushed hard by Steve Carell for Foxcatcher and the sublime Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game though industry insiders are already moving to align themselves with the theory that, finally, Keaton has turned in his career defining performance.

Edward NortonKeaton [L] stars alongside Ed Norton [R] in 'Birdman'

"But even when [Birdman's] pinballing chaos threatens to alienate the audience, Keaton's fearless, manic but tender performance draws us back in," said the BBC's Nicholas Barber in his review of Birdman. 

More: Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' is an early Oscars contender

"Led by a fantastic Michael Keaton, Birdman is a deeply thoughtful and darkly hilarious meta dissection of egotism that satirizes the entertainment business with a compelling visual style that is all its own," said Zachary Shevich of We Got This Covered.

"Michael Keaton nabs the role of a lifetime in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's wonderfully strange look at an aging actor fighting to stay relevant," said Eric Kohn of IndieWIRE.

"This is Keaton's film and he truly soars as the eponymous Birdman," said Jo-Anne Titmarsh of HeyUGuys.

Birdman hits theaters in the U.S on Friday (October 17, 2014). 

Watch the trailer for 'Birdman':