Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Arrival - 8 nominations

Best Picture - Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder and David Linde
Cinematography - Bradford Young
Directing - Denis Villeneuve
Film Editing - Joe Walker
Production Design - Patrice Vermette (Production Design); Paul Hotte (Set Decoration)
Sound Editing - Sylvain Bellemare
Sound Mixing - Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye
Adapted Screenplay - Eric Heisserer

If aliens came to earth, how would you create a common language and common experience enough to be able to understand what they wanted and why they came?  This is the basic premise of Arrival, a film that is slow to unfold but definitely worth the wait.  Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is brought in by the US government as a linguist to build a relationship with aliens who have landed, and to figure out what they are trying to communicate.  At the same time, other countries are doing the same with the egg spaceships which have landed in their territories, not all of them prepared to maintain trust that the aliens have not arrived to do harm to the people of earth.

There are a lot of spoilers to be had with this film, but instead of sharing them I'll simply say that the story and especially the conclusion get a little tricky, and for Dr. Who fans, we'll call it "timey-wimey."  The timeline of the film goes out of whack, and one must either accept the premise and go with it, or reject the film outright.  I went with the former and enjoyed the mind bending experience, but I guarantee that not everyone will.

The acting is superb and it's a surprise that Amy Adams was edged out of the Lead Actress category.  There were points in the Oscars season when she was predicted to be the winner, not merely nominated.  Jeremy Renner, who plays her scientist counterpart, is also excellent.  The dark settings set the tone for confusion, which is why the Cinematography was so expertly handled and created a feel for the world of the film that works.

Given that this Best Picture nominated film also has both sound editing and sound mixing nominations, I'll do my annual quick reminder of the difference between the two.  The sound editor captures all of the sound in a film, dialogue, effects, and music, and makes sure that sounds that go with visual effects are realistic to the ear.  These pieces are then prepared for the sound mixer, who expertly crafts the layers of the three so that they are clear and crisp.  Both of these categories are mostly awarded to films with heavy action or effects and also musicals.

When I first saw the film, I was so intrigued by the basic premise that I was certain that a screenplay nomination would come.  And so it did.  I have now watched the film twice, and enjoyed it even more the second time around.  I highly recommend it.

Watch the trailer:

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