The Academy Awards have an incessant inclination towards socially and politically relevant films that aren't necessarily as entertaining (often refusing to acknowledge films that are 'just' entertainment) so despite Denis Villeneuve's brilliant work being just as enjoyable as it is intelligent, he continues to be snubbed of recognition.
What the hell, Academy?
Mini Rant on The Academy:
They continue to lose credibility. The likelihood is that they'll award someone like Christopher Nolan for making a film on WW2 than Inception. Denis' 2015 film Sicario was about the war on drugs by the US which is a topic the Oscars would probably pay attention to yet still overlooked. Why has it come to this? Can anyone honestly say that films like Spotlight, 12 Years A Slave, and The King's Speech (that lack any escapism value) will be remembered a year from their release? Films that won inspite of Mad Max, Gravity, and Inception.
This post contains some spoilers.
Based on The Double by José Saramago, and a script written by Javier Gullón, this film explores a man's subconscious struggle to commit to his marriage. The main character study is concealed in the seemingly simple story of this man's discovery of his doppleganger whose life he eventually takes over, only hinted at in occasional dream-like imagery involving large spiders and unclad women. Minus the film's ending, the subconscious plot isn't compromised and can still be enjoyed all while the true plot unfolds in subtlety, a quality that I massively appreciate since its as if two stories unravel in one movie.
Combined with an eerie, isolating musical score, a nuanced performance by Jake Gyllenhaal and brilliant direction by Denis Villeneuve, reminiscent of Christopher Nolan's Memento combined with the surreal, Enemy is a movie I deeply love and is definitely worth watching and analysing over and over again.
It also has one of the best endings ever.
Impeccably shot by Roger Deakins, and written by Aaron Guzikowski, this thriller explores the kidnapping of two daughters and the lengths a father goes to find her inspite of the law. A film so gritty in its atmosphere and subject, which is furthered by Johann Johannsson's musical score and Hugh Jackman's intense performance. Also, arguably the best performance in the film is Jake Gyllenhaal's subtle portrayal of a sleep deprived detective with a shady past.
According to the producers, the likelihood that this film would be made was in question because of the lack of the right director and along came Denis.
Having seen only Prisoners at the time, this was a film of which the subject I had no interest in and the director I had only begun to appreciate. Yet again shot beautifully by Roger Deakins and appropriately scored by Johann Johannsson. This is perhaps Denis' most remarkable work. A film about an FBI agent recruited by a government task force to help in the war on drugs, whose questions grow (just as you) upon witnessing the legally questionable methods undertaken by their team. The first two acts of which you sit through cluelessly in awe of Roger Deakin's genius until the chaotic Breaking Bad reminiscent third act makes it very clear; there is no good guy. After watching a little boy eagerly wake his father up for breakfast and your binary opinion of the story you once assumed was motivated purely by politics, develops its conscience as he plays with his friends, now fatherless, with the harsh reality of war truly settling in.
This was a film that, in the hands of any other filmmaker with a different approach, would probably not be as effective. The decision to keep the audience in suspense and the unrealised build up to create sympathy and including the great performances by Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Josh Brolin, this was truly an experience.
Denis Villeneuve's next film is a sci-fi starring Amy Adams and comes out this year and on an more so exciting note, he is directing the Blade Runner sequel starring Ryan Gosling and is yet again collaborating with Roger Deakins.
The hype is real.
Thanks for reading.