‘Arrival’ vs. ‘Midnight Special’: Debating the brainy sci-fi Oscar hopefuls

Science fiction films rarely get major awards attention, so it’s unusual to have multiple prestigious sci-fi projects in the conversation at the same time — though last year was uncharacteristically strong for the genre, with “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “Ex Machina” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” all vying for major awards. This year offers two unconventional sci-fi flicks worth considering: “Midnight Special” and “Arrival.”

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“Midnight Special” opened back in March and tells the story of parents (Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst) whose son (Jaeden Lieberher) has special abilities and may not be of this world. It’s directed by Jeff Nichols, who has another awards contender coming up this fall: the civil rights true story “Loving.”

“Arrival” doesn’t arrive in theaters until November 11, but it already bowed at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals to positive reviews. It stars Amy Adams as a linguist trying to decipher alien communications. It also has a prestigious director, Denis Villeneuve (“Incendies,” “Prisoners”), and its well-timed fall release could make it the bigger awards contender.

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Our forum posters are discussing the relative merits and potential of the two films. Read some of their comments below, and click here to join the discussion:

kaziz3: I wouldn’t be surprised at all if “Arrival” has more of a showing at awards ceremonies because of its release date and the fact that Jeff Nichols has another movie which seems to be overshadowing “Midnight Special,” but I for one was blown away by “Midnight Special” and its performances.

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Volcarocka: I liked “Midnight Special” a lot, but it’s not going to be much of an Oscar player. Probably no recognition at all. I don’t mind, since not every good movie has to get an Oscar. But “Arrival” seems different. Its reviews suggest it’s going to be a contender in some major categories, and even if it misses out on major ones due to the competition, it will likely still pull some Score or Cinematography nominations.

reservoirdogma: [‘Midnight Special’] is one of my personal favorites of the year so far, but it opened opposite “Batman vs. Superman,” which generated enough internet ink (most of it negative, but still metaphorical column inches) to write over anything else.

GusCruz: Nichols never does it for me. Hopefully “Arrival” delivers something different.

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