Every year, after I’ve seen all the films I deemed worthy, I examine my reviews and consolidate down to a top ten list. Unless something comes around that is completely astonishing, I don’t see a future where this isn’t in my top three films, if not number one. This is one of the greatest sci-fi films I’ve seen in recent years, and undoubtedly one that will have me pondering many substantial questions for days to come. Arrival isn’t just one of the greatest films this year; it’s one of the most immersive and mesmerising movie going experiences I can recall.
Arrival is the story of an expert linguist who teams up with a mathematician to help the army try to communicate with foreign beings to learn their reason for coming to the planet. Amy Adams (American Hustle, Man of Steel) stars as the quick-talking language professor while Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Avengers) plays opposite her. Adams and Renner shine throughout and bring intense chemistry with between them two. Forest Whitaker (the Last King of Scotland, Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Single Man, Steve Jobs) also have supporting roles and play them to a tee. Though everyone played their part with purpose, not enough opportunities were allotted for in the script to really have any talk about acting Oscars come January.
The Oscars we will be seeing nominated to Arrival, and plenty of them will be for numerous technical aspects. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s music (Theory of Everything, Sicario) was spine-tingling and will surely be awarded. Cinematographer Bradford Young (A most Violent Year, Selma, which are both two of my favourite films of recent years) will surely be recognised by the academy and a plethora of bigger films will be coming his way.
When a company is trying to make sure that butts will get into seats for their film, they enact a marketing campaign a few weeks prior to release, or months depending on the size of the release. A few trailers will be shown, posters created, TV’s saturated with ads, all in the hope to get a large turnout for opening weekend. All of these acts are meant to appeal to the non-film buff, for the movie-literate type, all we needed was one name: Denis Villeneuve. Incendies put him on the map, Prisoners established him, Enemy showed his technique, and Sicario proved him as one of the greatest up and coming directors of the 2010’s. The director’s fingerprints are prevalent all over the aesthetic and ambience of the film, which carry it to even higher standards.
Not since Interstellar, and potentially not since 2001: A Space Odyssey prior to that, has a film introduced such philosophy and stimulating concepts and still be able to immerse audiences. Where Nolan’s epic failed partly and Villeneuve’s succeeded was that It knew it didn’t have to go all out. Instead of trying to be a film as big as it’s theories, Arrival decided to stay personal and delicate while still incorporating these thought-provoking ideas. The “Shyamalanian” twist near the climax of the film was unexpected and therefore all the more chilling.
I’m having trouble putting into words how much I truly adore this film. I have 12 tattoos on my body and over half are film related. Usually, when I get an idea for a film tattoo I let it marinate a bit before I put ink to skin, to make sure I truly consider the film praiseworthy. I can 100% say, within 12 months, I will have an Arrival tattoo on my person. That is how incredible I think this film is. This is why we see movies.
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