‘Arrival’ Looks to Take Sci-Fi to the Oscars

As discussed last week, it is possible for film critics and the nerd community to agree on art. Whether it be The Dark Knight, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Captain America: Civil War, or anything by Pixar, these are movies we can coalesce around as being great. If the venn diagram locating similarities between critics and nerds is small, then the crossover between Oscar voters and nerds is extremely slim. Sometimes genre movies can make the cut (All three Lord of the Rings films were nominated, with Return of the Kings sweeping all 11 categories it was nominated in), but we are all aware that the “Oscar movie” is a different type of film than one championed by the fan community. Hopefully, 2016 can give nerds another Oscar champion in the form of Arrival.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) and written by Eric Heisserer (Lights Out, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Arrival stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. The story gives a new take on the “first contact” tale of that hypothetical day when aliens land on Earth. Adams plays a linguist, tasked with interpreting the language of the invaders, as she does her outlook on this world changed dramatically. Let’s take another look at the trailer released last month:

‘Arrival’ Looks to Be Thoughtful Sci-Fi

If we look back to last year’s Oscar nominations, the only nerd films included in the various nominations were Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian (both of which were nominated for Best Picture), and Star War: The Force Awakens (only in the technical awards), all three are science-fiction. If there is a common denominator linking the nerd community and the Oscars it would be that of sci-fi films. After the huge snub of The Dark Knight in 2008, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences opened the field, allowing more than just five nominees. By widening the field, films like Avatar (2009), District 9 (2009), and Inception (2010) were included and the Oscars felt a little more relatable.

Arrival looks to fill that sci-fi slot this year. Villeneuve has made his name with very thought-provoking films like Prisoners and last year’s Sicario, this may be the year where he is included at the Oscar table. Arrival looks like a more thoughtful sci-fi project, taking a familiar story and telling it in a new way. The film is screening at the Venice Film Festival and the Telluride Film Festival, reviews are flooding in, The Hollywood Reporter summed up the film as such:

“How refreshing to watch an alien contact movie in which no cities are destroyed or monuments toppled, and no adversarial squabbling distracts the human team from the challenges of their complex interspecies encounter. Anchored by an internalized performance from Amy Adams rich in emotional depth, this is a grownup sci-fi drama that sustains fear and tension while striking affecting chords on love and loss.”

Whether or not Arrival lives up to the hype remains to be seen (the film will hit theaters on November 11). It is possible, for many readers of Word of the Nerd, that this is the first time you have heard of the film, we hope so, let’s experience it together. One thing is for sure, it is a good thing when nerds have good sci-fi in theaters, and it is a really good thing when Oscar voters show some love for genre films.

Image via Arrival‘s official Twitter account.

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About the author

Josh Tarpley

is a film critic and all around movie enthusiast. Along with being a Marvel fanboy, he is also a husband, college graduate and proud Beagle owner. Josh loves to celebrate art and tries to incorporate his faith into every aspect of life. You can follow Josh on twitter @JoshTarpley7

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