Denis Villenueve has become Hollywood’s go-to guy if you’re looking for blockbuster sci-fi that goes light on action scenes and set pieces, but heavy on existentialism, moral quandaries and stunning cinematography.
Blade Runner 2049 bombed at the box office despite being a direct sequel to one of the greatest efforts the genre has ever had to offer, but the same fate thankfully didn’t befall literary adaptation Dune, which is sitting on a worldwide tally of $374 million to fully justify the decision to give Part Two the green light.
Before those two expensive behemoths, Villenueve delivered the quiet and introspective Arrival, which was admittedly still heavily reliant on visual effects to bring the premise to life. Amy Adams’ linguistics professor leads a team of investigators when mysterious spaceships touch down in a dozen locations all over the world, with humanity racing to discover whether the extraterrestrial visitors are friends or foes.
Arrival hauled in an impressive $203 million against a $47 million budget, winning widespread acclaim on its way to eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, although it only managed a solitary win for Best Sound Editing.
Perhaps buoyed by the success of Villenueve’s Dune, Arrival has been making its way up the HBO Max most-watched list as per FlixPatrol, where it’s jumped a dozen places since yesterday.