"The Sisters Brothers" spins a unique Western yarn                "Colette" is another period piece showcase for Kiera Knightley                John C. Reilly looks like a late breaking Academy Award player in the Trailer for "Stan & Ollie"                Brie Larson saves the day in the First Trailer for "Captain Marvel"                The Toronto International Film Festival boosts "Green Book" with its Top Prize                Updated Academy Award predictions for early September                "White Boy Rick" is a compelling character study and period piece                Taking a look at potential Best Supporting Actress contenders                Shane Black gives "The Predator" his signature clever spin                Venice Film Festival award winners include "The Favourite" and "Roma"                Taking a look at potential Best Supporting Actor contenders                Watch out for Ben Foster in Best Supporting Actor for "Leave No Trace"                "The Favourite" releases a new Trailer to build off of its positive festival buzz                "All About Nina" and "Fahrenheit 11/9": Films to look forward to in September                Trailer for "The Front Runner" and Buzz from Telluride suggest another Oscar player for Jason Reitman        

“Dunkirk” is a towering achievement from Christopher Nolan


When it was announced that filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s next project was going to be a World War II epic, it was hard not to respond with some degree of snark that the director had finally gone all in on getting the Academy to notice him. Well, Oscar damn well might come calling this time for Nolan, since I’ve seen this film, and Dunkirk is a monumental work. In many ways it’s Nolan’s finest hour. Harrowing, impeccably made, and a must see in IMAX, it’s the best movie of 2017 so far. Awards will be coming Dunkirk’s way before all is said and done. This one not only lives up to the hype, it exceeds it. Opening Friday, it’s an absolute must see.

The film is an historical war drama about the famous evacuation of Dunkirk. Allied soldiers from Belgium, the Britain, and France were surrounded by the German forces and needed to be evacuated from the small French town that gives the film its name. Here, the focus is on the 400,000 British troops and their risky evacuation. On the land, we spend a week with troops just sitting on a beach, being picked off by the Germans. There, Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and others attempt to survive and be rescued. In the sea, we spend a day with a civilian boat headed to Dunkirk to aid in the rescue. Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) are joined by Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan) in sailing from England to the beach for pickup, if that is, they survive. In the air, we spend an hour with RAF pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) and his fellow airmen as they try to keep the skies free of the enemy and give the men on the ground a fighting chance for survival. Nolan writes and directs, with the large ensemble cast also including Aneurin Barnard, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Jack Lowden, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles, the voice of Michael Caine, and many more. Hans Zimmer contributes an iconic score, while the amazing visuals are courtesy of cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Elsewhere below the line, frequent Nolan collaborators Lee Smith (editor) and Nathan Crowley (production designer) are back once again.

This is a near perfect movie. Nolan has a master’s grasp on the material, showcasing it from start to finish. In many ways, this is an experimental film too, nearly silent, dialogue wise, structurally ambitious, and all set to Zimmer’s brilliant ticking clock of a score. The case can be made that never before has the filmmaker had his own direction mix so perfectly with a flick’s cinematography, editing, and score. It’s all just brilliantly executed. This is a masterclass in how to tell a story without overusing dialogue. Some might call it another clinical effort from Nolan, but I think it goes way beyond that this time. It’s sheer brilliance.

In terms of awards, get set for Dunkirk to contend across the board. Any hesitation that I put forward in my last prediction update is now gone. Look for almost surefire nominations in Best Picture and Best Director (for Nolan), along with Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Original Score. Beyond that, citations in Best Original Screenplay (also for Nolan), Best Costume Design, and Best Visual Effects could easily be in the cards too. An acting nod would be unlikely, though if someone does get in, it’ll be in Best Supporting Actor (either for Hardy or Rylance). Right now, you’d have to even put Nolan in Director and a handful of the technical categories as heavy favorites to win. There will be no shortage of noms for Dunkirk, as it has a legitimate chance at a double digit nomination total when all is said and done.


I’ll revisit this next week in a Nolan centric piece, but for now, here is how I would rank his films to date:

10. Following
9. Insomnia
8. The Prestige
7. Inception
6. Batman Begins
5. Memento
4. The Dark Knight Rises
3. Dunkirk
2. Interstellar
1. The Dark Knight

Dunkirk is not just the best option for cinema going this week, it’s the best thing to hit theaters all year long. Fans of Nolan, fans of WWII films, and fans of just quality movies in general owe it themselves to see this one. It will undoubtedly contend for awards, but even removed completely from Oscar territory, it’s still damn close to a masterpiece. As good as Nolan has been before, and while as you can see above, I may still list a film or two of his as overall stronger work, this could ultimately be his most complete work. It might even end up as his finest hour, when all is said and done. For now though, make it your business to see this movie. Without question, it’s something very special. See it in IMAX if you can. Tomorrow, if possible. You’ll thank me later…

Be sure to check out Dunkirk, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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