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“Blade Runner 2049” is a stunning achievement for Roger Deakins and Denis Villeneuve

The odds did not favor Blade Runner 2049 succeeding. In fact, the bar to clear was a high one for Denis Villeneuve and company. After all, Blade Runner is a certified classic, so why go back now and make a sequel? Well, whatever got Warner Brothers and the powers that be on board, it’s a good thing they did, since this is a magnificent film, filled to the brim with some breathtaking Roger Deakins cinematography. Not only is it the best blockbuster sequel in some time, it’s an immediate science fiction classic in its own right and a full on Academy Award contender. For that matter, it’s one of 2017’s best movies overall. Here’s something else to sink your teeth into…for my money, Blade Runner 2049 is better than Blade Runner. Yes, I said it.

It’s impossible to discuss the plot without spoiling the surprises in store for you, so just know the barest of details going in. Set three decades after the prior film, a new Blade Runner named K (Ryan Gosling) discovers a secret that threatens the current world order. This long buried bit of information puts him on a path to track down Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former Blade Runner who is now missing. To say any more would be a crime, trust me there. Villeneuve directs a screenplay by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, while the rest of the cast includes Barkhad Abdi, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista, Mackenzie Davis, Wood Harris, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri, Jared Leto, Edward James Olmos, Robin Wright, and more. The aforementioned Deakins handles the cinematography, while the score ended up being composed by Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer.

This is one of the best looking films in some time. Deakins has rarely been better, capturing one beautiful and haunting image after the next. Villeneuve continues to explore themes of humanity and human nature, just this time on a much larger canvas. It’s truly impressive work. Plus, Gosling’s stoic turn is a whole new side of the actor. I really want to stay away from anything that can be conceived a spoiler, so excuse the vagaries. Again, just know that this is phenomenal and heady stuff, well worth your attention. Furthermore, voters are going to pay attention to this one, that almost seems like a foregone conclusion.

Oscar wise, Blade Runner 2049 is going to contend. Look for Warner Brothers to go all out and launch campaigns in Best Picture, Best Director (for Villeneuve), Best Actor (for Gosling), Best Supporting Actor (for Ford), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Fancher and Green), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Hairstyling & Makeup, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects. It will be a crime if Deakins isn’t recognized in Cinematography, while Production Design and Visual Effects would seem like safe bets for at least nominations as well. Suffice to say, it’ll do well in the technical categories. Sleep on this one at your own risk. In fact, watch out for it to at least threaten with Best Picture contention.

Quickly, this is how I would rank Villenueve’s top five films so far to date:

1. Prisoners
2. Blade Runner 2049
3. Sicario
4. Arrival
5. Enemy

As a further bonus, here’s how I would rank the ten best works from Deakins:

1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
2. The Shawshank Redemption
3. Blade Runner 2049
4. No Country for Old Men
5. Prisoners
6. Revolutionary Road
7. Skyfall
8. Sicario
9. The Siege
10. Jarhead

Next week, audiences will finally get a chance to discover the mysterious of Blade Runner 2049 for themselves. Make sure you don’t end up spoiled, as going in blind is easily he best way to see it. Gosling fans will enjoy him doing something different. Villeneuve fans will love seeing him tackle something of this scale. Deakins fans will delight in seeing work that might finally win him his elusive Oscar. Ford fans will enjoy him returning to another iconic role. Suffice to say, there is a lot to offer here. It’s a full cinematic meal. Don’t you dare miss this one. You’re going to want to see it, and furthermore, you’re going to want to discuss it with others…

Be sure to check out Blade Runner 2049, in theaters everywhere on October 6th!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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