I don’t always agree with the films that get nominated for various Oscars. What I have noticed from previous posts, though, is that the people who vote on the films in each category tend to search out opposing views. See my post on last year’s best picture nomination for Arrival. Then there is the screenplay nomination for the film Flight starring Denzel Washington. I mentioned Dunkirk in a previous post, but now that it has been nominated for eight Oscars I feel compelled to expand on my criticism of this over-hyped film.
Let’s start with the story. A daring effort to rescue trapped soldiers from imminent doom is a compelling story. How could you possibly mess that up? How about trying to tell the story without a single memorable character. How about trying to tell the story with characters like “freezing soldier on boat.” Christopher Nolan is a talented director. Give him a good script and he will make a great film. Problem is, he is not a great writer. He is all about the visual. If we are to believe Christopher Nolan, the air battle that was fought in the skies over France involved just three British fighter planes.
The film had one of the worst sound tracks in movie history. It was so bad that I noticed it. Great film scores disappear into the movie. They don’t announce themselves every minute. What do I consider a good film score? Two that come to mind are the scores for Braveheart and Gladiator. Dunkirk best original score? I don’t think so.
In an effort to create drama, Nolan puts a group of soldiers in a metal tank that an unseen force is firing at. Ping! There is a sound of a bullet piercing metal. Eventually, you realize that these soldiers are in the hull of a boat. There is an argument amongst the soldiers as to who has to go topside to see what’s going on. More bullets pierce the hull. But he never shows anyone firing on the boat. There’s a shot of the boat. But where are the enemy soldiers? After twenty minutes or so of this going nowhere scene, he just moves on to another scene.
Lastly, there is the fighter plane that manages to fly on for twenty minutes after running out of fuel. And, oh yeah, the plane manages to shoot down an enemy bomber before passing over friendly beaches to land in enemy territory. Best editing? No way. Best picture? Not a chance. The film deserves the nomination for best Cinematography.
If you want to see a movie with great writing, editing, and acting, go see I, Tonya, which is the movie that should have been nominated over Dunkirk.