Coming off its’ world premiere in Venice and U.S. premiere about 6 hours later at Telluride, is Arrival (2106 dir. Denis Villeneuve), a sci-fi film about aliens landing on Earth and driving the planet crazy by hanging out waiting for someone to learn to talk to them. This is where Dr. Lousie Banks, played by Amy Adams comes into to play. She is recruited by the military to figure out how to talk to them. And she does.
But this is beside the point as, this film goes after some real philosophical questions, present complex ideas of morality, and dives deep into the human experience. This film is an achievement in its’ own right for American Sci-fi, for showing how far the genre has come from the cheap B-movie drive flick that existed to sell more popcorn and give teenagers the excuse to make out. With the imagery being second to none and sound that is so well conceived that it becomes intricate to the movie. Along with a stellar cast that are very much in tune with the story that you tend to forget that this is an absurd far fetch story with no connection to reality. This film is an Oscar contender. To add to Arrival uses a very challenging style of story telling tat if one line was wrong, one reveal happened too early, then the whole entire film would have been ruined. One should give applause to Eric Heisserer for pulling of this challenging feat in screenwriting and to Denis Villeneuve for being able to get the pacing of the film down just right. For that alone this film should be consider the winner of the much coveted prize of prizes in Hollywood, the best picture Oscar. And it might, with the film still set to tour a handful of festivals before finally stopping for a wide release in November.
Unfortunately it won’t win though for all its’ triumphs, well planned tour with a good wide release date, and critical appraisal. Why? because it is Sci-fi, and as mention in the earlier paragraph, for everything that has been achieved over the past 60 years this film will still be viewed as nothing more then a popcorn film, something to drop the kids off, while the parents go have an “our time dinner.” The problem within Hollywood is, yes it will conceive to giving awards to the genre of film for best screenplay, best directing, best editing, etc., etc. but best picture, that cannot happen, the idea of a genre, where the premise can be anything from getting stuck on Mars, to time travel is too easy to do, especially when compared to telling a story in musical form, or about a famous historical figure. These are genres that have track records for being great, sci-fi film does not. Therefore, even though Amy Adams gives an amazing performance that will be a hallmark of her career, and technically, there are few films that will achieve the same amazing execution, this film will get the token invite to the ball, but when it metaphorically enters and walks down the stairs, everyone will be too busy talking to notice its’ interest. But for SWFF, we hope against that it just might break the trend, and might win it all in February.