Dunkirk ★★★★½

Is Nolan finally getting nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director?
I hope so.

Is this the best blockbuster of the summer?
I think so.

Is this a masterpiece?
Fuck yes.

Did Nolan just outdo himself with Dunkirk?
To answer that question, I may need to rewatch Memento, which I think is his best film to date.

But there’s so much to admire about Dunkirk. This is such a colossal cinematic achievement that raises the bar of war filmmaking even higher. Nolan's determination to structure this story in the nonlinear fashion is a risky move. He could’ve played safe and made a conventional war film with stunning cinematography. But Nolan is Nolan; he’s got a trick up his sleeve. It turns out this ambitious take works in the movie’s favor. Hadn't it been for the bold nonlinear approach, I don’t think the movie would’ve been as impressive or powerful.

The disjointed storytelling, coupled with the frenetic editing and Hanz Zimmer’s intense score, works as a clever cinematic device that helps drum up the tension and suspense of war. Nolan turns these events into ticking-time bomb scenarios overflowing with a sense of dread, horror, and apprehension. And his focus on the events themselves rather than a specific group of people is a smart move.

Nolan likens Dunkirk in IMAX with “virtual reality without the goggles” and boy was he absolutely right. Experience it in 70mm IMAX if you can because it’s really meant to be seen in that format (and sit on the top rows too). Dunkirk is visually and technically flawless. Every frame is meticulously crafted and shot. There isn’t much dialogue in the film because characters are secondary to events. Most of the time Nolan just lets the visuals speak for themselves. It’s worth mentioning that the movie isn’t gory either. People easily put off by blood or violence won’t have a hard time watching it. But I can assure you that your heart will skip a beat every five minutes or so because every scene is pure suspense.

The movie boasts an impressive ensemble cast (and does Nolan have a fetish for a masked Tom Hardy now or what?) In his feature-film debut, Harry Styles proved that he can act. Dude has one big scene in a ship that he delivers beautifully and outshines everyone in the scene. Mark Rylance’s avuncular presence brings a sense of reassurance to the audience. The other heavyweight actors like Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy all provided great supporting turns in their limited screen time.

A war movie that depicts humans’ struggle, courage, and spirit this well should not be overlooked by the Academy. I hope Nolan’s latest effort finally earns him Best Director and Best Picture nominations next year because Dunkirk is simply awe-inspiring.

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