Warner Bros – 7/21
Dir: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy
What It’s About: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.
Pros: Christopher Nolan doing a WWII story that stars two Academy Award nominees and a winner? What could be more Oscar-y? Dunkirk is only Nolan’s third sole writing attempt and his first based on historical fact. Shooting on film over digital, Dunkirk is only the third film this decade to be primarily shot in 70mm (The Master and The Hateful Eight are the others).
Cons: Christopher Nolan has been searching for personal Oscar glory, especially a Best Director nomination, for nearly a decade now. Helming huge, popcorn blockbusters that are also critical hits was the early era Steven Spielberg but even Spielberg knew he was going to have to buckle down and tackle ‘serious’ subjects to win Oscars, and he did with Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. Dunkirk is clearly more in the vein of SPR and this is definitely Nolan’s most earnest effort at awards glory. But is this type of film past its Oscar prime?
Bottom Line: The July bow for Dunkirk is aiming for some major box office heat and it’s certainly the kind of movie that doesn’t get nor need a festival run to be an Oscar contender. But, it’s going to need to be that – a huge hit – to be considered. Nolan’s track record both at the box office and with critics is very strong and this time around, centering on ‘important’ material could very well be his ticket. Plus, Harry Styles!