“Arrival” is a story of communication and language in an impossible circumstance. Its unique science fiction setting might seem off-putting to a lot of viewers but this is truly a film that every moviegoer will enjoy. I think that it is an easily relatable sci-fi movie because it does not take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The events of this film could take place today in our own backyard. Moreover, this film appeals to our sense of realism through a scientific approach to language. The story is driven by the concept of linguistic relativity which hypothesizes that the structure of a language shapes the way that we perceive the world around us. Much like the language of the heptapods, the entire film is circular and in the end, we see all of the pieces of the story as a whole. It also helps that these otherworldly, animal-like aliens are different than the humanoids that we have come to expect from alien movies. There is no question that this will be the Oscar-winning, mind-bending science fiction hit of 2016. A Best Actress nomination for Amy Adams is inevitable. She boldly carries the entire film on her shoulders with intensity, several different dynamics of raw emotion, and convincing interaction with the CGI. I love that her character approaches linguistic communication with a teaching methodology. This further enhances the realism when compared with a film like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in which a simple tonal language allows both sides to miraculously speak through music. Jeremy Renner also turns in a nice performance through the chemistry that develops with Adams as the film progresses. My main disappointment with the film is Forest Whitaker. His presence in a film brings an expectation of great acting but his character is completely static and could have been played by any average actor, leaving me wondering why he signed on. In spite of this small letdown, “Arrival” is a great film from top to bottom. It answers all of the right questions to leave us satisfied but leaves enough questions unanswered to maintain the mystery. Whether you are a fan of science fiction or not, “Arrival” is the movie that you need to see before Oscar Sunday.
[Pictured: The film's approach to deciphering linguistics is stunning]