Oscars Preview: 30 Movies to Watch Before the Nominations Come Out!

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Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures


What it’s about:

Louise Banks is a linguist who is in the middle of a college lecture when twelve gigantic, pod-like vehicles from somewhere in space touch down in various places on Earth. Louise is called upon by the U.S. military as an expert in language and communication. She is tasked with figuring out how to communicate with the two large, tentacled aliens they find inside the spacecraft. Working with physicist Ian Donnelly, Louise is able to make contact with the aliens and decifer their circular writings. But when the aliens tell her that they are there to offer a “weapon,” Louise must keep her team from panicking. As a person who understands the fluidity and complications of language, Louise is the only one who can convince the U.S. and other countries not to attack, and the only one to convince the aliens to trust her.

Major Players:

The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, and written by Eric Heisserer, based on a short story by Ted Chiang. Amy Adams, a five-time Oscar nominee, plays Louise, while two-time nominee Jeremy Renner plays Ian.

What the Critics are Saying:

Arrival has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from almost all sources and boasts a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many, in particular, have praised Amy Adams’s performance. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times writes, “A tremulous, inviting Amy Adams turns softness and quiet into heroic qualities.” Some reviewers have criticized the ending of Arrival, like Stephanie Zacharek of Time, who asserts that in the movie’s resolution, “…Villeneuve may be stretching the profundities a bit too far.” But generally critics seem to agree with The Atlantic’s Christopher Orr, who calls Arrival “at once epic and intimate” and “ambitious in conception and extraordinary in execution.”

Possible Nominations:

Best Picture, Best Director (Villeneuve), Best Adapted Screenplay (Heisserer), Leading Actress (Adams)