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Dune: Why Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece deserves to be the first science fiction film to win the Oscar for best picture

LLast month, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel called on Oscar voters to snub him Spider-Man: No Way Home – the biggest superhero movie of the last year. “Why do best picture nominees have to be serious?” Kimmel lamented. “When did that become a requirement for an Oscar nomination?”

Kimmel asked a question with no possible answer: what makes a good movie? When it came to popularity, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige would have a mantel glittering with Oscar trophies. But he doesn’t. A film doesn’t have to be artistically good to be popular, and yet its popularity should not be discounted.

Out of all the nominees for Best Picture this year dune is the only real blockbuster, the rest doesn’t come close to the gross box office results. dune took in US$400m (£303m) worldwide, a number made even more astounding given its release during the pandemic and simultaneous streaming debut. Meanwhile, Spielberg’s Westside Story – the second-highest-grossing film in the nominee list – took home an incredible $75 million (£56 million).

My condolences to Mr Kimmel, but dune also offers something No way home not: artistic merit in spades. Director Denis Villeneuve manages to pull the audience into a completely alien galaxy through expert cinematography, sound design and costuming without ever being overwhelming. It’s a master class in world building.

dune is Villeneuve’s opus magnum, an obsession that began in childhood and which the French-Canadian director is unusually open about. “I’ve spent decades imagining things dune‘ the director wrote for vanity fair Last year, “several years of actually writing and creating it… The entire journey has taken most of my life.”

Most directors don’t like to admit that one or more of their projects pales in comparison to others, but they do dune was Villeneuve’s goal in life and he is proud of it. The time and care that went into the film is evident throughout, but it is Hans Zimmer’s music that is most evident. Here it is played by a narrator who, through omnipresent sounds, explains to the audience the danger of certain beings, the mysticism of new lands, the drama of battle. Scratchy metal, Irish whistles, throat singing and distorted bagpipes are all tools Zimmer uses to create a disorienting, otherworldly atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the performances aren’t what people usually talk about when they talk about them dune. The characters in this story help drive the plot rather than being the center of the plot themselves. Still, every performance is guaranteed and Timothée Chalamet was born to play the Duke Paul Atreides. A powerful, contradictory aristocrat, Chalamet perfectly conveys a young man who grew up surrounded by privilege; there is an arrogance he carries alongside his nobility and compassion.

Director Denis Villeneuve directs Javier Bardem in Dune

(WarnerMedia)

In her review for The Independentcompared film critic Clarisse Loughrey wisely dune to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like Lord of the Rings, a fantasy saga with mainstream appeal, dune is a sci-fi film that even the most skeptical could see and enjoy.

No science fiction film has ever won the top prize at the Oscars. The original war of stars 1977 was the closest over four decades ago but was beaten by Woody Allen Annie Hall. History is set to repeat itself on Sunday, when the gong for best picture is likely to go elsewhere and not one of the year’s most popular films. Whatever happens in the night, but at least everyone involved dune will be able to say, “People actually went to see it.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/dune-oscars-2022-best-picture-winner-nominees-b2042471.html Dune: Why Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece deserves to be the first science fiction film to win the Oscar for best picture

JOE HERNANDEZ

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