The Power of the Dog and Dune seems to be Oscar Academy’s two most favourite movies this year. With ‘The Power Of the Dog’ being the highest nominated film ‘Dune’ is just two nominations away. We know, we cannot compare two movies. But we can!
Both the films were adapted from novels. The Power of the Dog directed by Jane Campion is based on Thomas Savage’s eponymous 1967 Novel and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is based on a 1965 novel by Frank Herbert.
Though Denis got snubbed from the Best Director category this year, this is not the first time that his film has been nominated at the Academy. On the other hand, Jane Campion becomes the first woman to have two nominations in the best director category.
Prior to Dune, Denis directed another sci-fi ‘Arrival’. As usual, the Academy was not moved enough that could land an award for the film. But the nomination also proved Villeneuve’s mastery over his craft and the genre.
Dune’s Oscar Dilemma
Even though Denis apparently knows how to crack the awards and create cinema worth nominating, the question is whether it can do what his previous film ‘Arrival’ could not and be the first sci-fi film to earn the award.
The chances are low, keeping in mind, the films competing with Dune and Academy’s long borne reluctance, rather hostility towards the science fiction genre.
Even if Dune does not make it this time, there is hope from the sequel.
The essence of Dune is not in its science fiction. In fact, all this recognition and appreciation by the audience is because it is not ‘science fiction. Frank made sure not to include the ‘science’ in his work and instead built everything around the people, their experiences and adventures, and everything else that made it more immersive and more human.
Campion’s first film in over a decade is set on a 1925 ranch in Montana enveloped with mountains and barren terrain filled with both beauty and life-draining hostility.
Jane has done a phenomenal job with the location though the pandemic halted the film’s production for months.
The storyline is a complex one, not in terms of the plot twists but in terms of depicting human emotions and justifiably showing even the subtlest of layers a human holds within. When Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is being depicted as cruel and crude, Jane makes sure that she shows the character in its complete composition. As an empathetic person and a director who is drawn to characters with emotions buried deep, she has presented this in multiple ways through her films previously as well.
A peculiar and seemingly very effective belief of Jane has always been the belief of balancing the masculine and feminine energy on her sets. And that’s the reason behind the selection of Ari Wegner as the cinematographer of The Power of the Dog.
During the initial stages of the making of this film, Jane felt that there was more masculine energy on the sets because of more male cast members, which is why it was decided that the cinematographer of this film must be a woman.
With not many women cinematographers in the industry, it turned out to be a great decision to get Ari’s camera with Jane’s vision.
The zooming out of the camera for big aerial shots depict the insignificance of people in contrast to the mountains occasionally. The overall visual feel of the film is ‘inimitable’.
The responsible filmmaking of Jane takes no side between the contrasting characters of Phil and his brother.
Though the Oscar nominations are a close call and some award(s) might land in Dune’s bag as well but with a history of sci-fi antagonism, it’s going to be a tough ball for Dune these awards.