Cana­dian Ar­rival team headed to Os­cars with ‘pos­i­tive’ vibes

The Hamilton Spectator - - A & E - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

TORONTO — It’s an Os­cars love-in as the Cana­dian team be­hind the alien-in­va­sion drama “Ar­rival” de­scends on Hol­ly­wood for Sun­day’s glitzy gala.

Que­bec di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve’s hu­man­is­tic sci-fi film has eight nom­i­na­tions, tied with Barry Jenk­ins’s “Moon­light” for the sec­ond-most nods. Both are in the run­ning for best pic­ture and best di­rec­tor.

The daz­zling mu­si­cal “La La Land” is in con­tention for a lead­ing 14 awards, with nom­i­na­tions for best pic­ture, best di­rec­tor and best ac­tor for Ryan Gosling, who at­tendee high school in Burling­ton.

Mon­treal pro­duc­tion de­signer Pa­trice Ver­mette, who’s nom­i­nated for his work on “Ar­rival” along­side Mon­treal set dec­o­ra­tor Paul Hotte, was sched­uled to fly in to Los An­ge­les on Wed­nes­day and his seat­mate was none other than “La La Land” pro­ducer Fred Berger.

But he was feel­ing no sense of ri­valry.

“I think we’re go­ing to start the cel­e­bra­tion in the plane. That’s the plan, ac­tu­ally,” Ver­mette, who was also up for an Os­car in 2010 for “The Young Vic­to­ria,” said in a re­cent phone in­ter­view.

“We’re not ri­vals, we’re friends. We’re good friends, ac­tu­ally. And he’s good friends with (pro­duc­ers) Aaron Ry­der and Dan Levine from ‘Ar­rival,’ which is funny be­cause this year it seems that a lot of peo­ple who are nom­i­nated know each other in a good way, which is all pos­i­tive.”

In­deed, when the nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced last month, Vil­leneuve said one of the first peo­ple he spoke with was Gosling. The Cana­dian duo had just worked to­gether on the highly an­tic­i­pated “Blade Run­ner 2049,” due out in Oc­to­ber.

Such is the fa­mil­ial vibe Vil­leneuve has been known for through­out his ca­reer.

He of­ten teams up with the same col­lab­o­ra­tors, in­clud­ing Ver­mette, who pre­vi­ously worked with Vil­leneuve on “Pris­on­ers,” “En­emy” and “Si­cario.” Ver­mette is now work­ing with Berger on “The Moun­tain Be­tween Us” in Van­cou­ver.

“The bonus of De­nis is that you not only get his bril­liance, you get th­ese bril­liant artists and crafts­man who join him. And the movie is a re­sult of all of his work,” said Shawn Levy, a Mon­treal pro­ducer on “Ar­rival” who shares in the best pic­ture nom­i­na­tion.

“I think De­nis has a hu­man­ity to him. He thinks about things deeply and he feels things even more deeply, so there’s a warmth and a hu­man­ity to him in his work that is pal­pa­ble and re­ally so­phis­ti­cated.”

“Ar­rival” stars Amy Adams as a lin­guis­tics ex­pert who goes through a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence as she tries to com­mu­ni­cate with aliens who’ve ar­rived on Earth. Jeremy Ren­ner plays a the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist in the Que­bec-shot film, which ex­plores how in­tu­ition, in­stinct and hu­mil­ity help com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

“It’s not a typ­i­cal sci-fi movie with high tech­nol­ogy,” said Vil­leneuve, adding that he thinks the Os­car love came “be­cause of the hu­man­ity that is in­side the story of this movie.”

This is Vil­leneuve’s sec­ond Os­car ride, af­ter his 2010 drama “In­cendies” was nom­i­nated for the best for­eign-lan­guage film award.

“The thing is that a few years ago with ‘In­cendies,’ it was a huge sur­prise and it was like I was a virgin,” Vil­leneuve said from Los An­ge­les when the nom­i­na­tions were an­nounced.

“I’ve been through sev­eral cam­paigns — we did it for ‘Pris­on­ers,’ we cam­paigned once more for ‘Si­cario,’ be­cause the movie was be­ing well-re­ceived for a time here.

“For ‘Ar­rival,’ I do have a lit­tle bit more ex­pe­ri­ence to feel the mo­men­tum.”

Eric Heis­serer is nom­i­nated for Ar­rival’s screen­play, which is adapted from the Ted Chi­ang novella “Story of Your Life.” Brad­ford Young is nom­i­nated for best cin­e­matog­ra­phy and Joe Walker is up for film edit­ing.

Other Cana­di­ans nom­i­nated for their work on the film in­clude sound ed­i­tor Syl­vain Belle­mare and sound mix­ers Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye.

Strobl said Vil­leneuve took an un­con­ven­tional ap­proach to the alien genre and they “all went for it.”

“That was one of the main suc­cesses: We were all on the same page.”

Ver­mette was feel­ing pos­i­tive about his chances.

“There’s a lot of love for ‘La La Land,’ ob­vi­ously, but I think this time I might be closer,” he said. “I don’t know, I hope so. Movies are made by the peo­ple who dream, so yeah, I can dream about it.”


De­nis Vil­leneuve on the set of “Ar­rival,” which he says is get­ting Os­car love for its “hu­man­ity.”

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