‘Blade Runner 2049’: Rave reviews launch Oscar contender starring Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford

Blade Runner 2049” screened for critics on Sept. 28 and the early reaction is overwhelmingly positive. Awards pundits took to social media to sing the praises of this long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott‘s 1982 sci-fi classic “Blade Runner.” Many thought this reboot, helmed by Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), was even better than the original.

The new film is set three decades after the events of the original, with Harrison Ford returning to his role as Rick Deckard, a one-time police officer in a dystopic version of Los Angeles who has gone off the grid. Ryan Gosling is Officer K, who goes in search of Deckard as he believe him to hold the key to saving civilization. Michael Green, who also penned this year’s sci-fi hits “Logan” and “Alien: Covenant,” is co-writer with Hampton Fancher, who worked on the original 1982 adaptation of Philip K. Dick‘s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”

The academy expanded the playing field for its top prize in 2009, hoping that critically acclaimed commercial fare such as “Blade Runner 2049” could break through. Under the preferential system of balloting for Best Picture, a film needs a passionate group of supporters that will rank it first. “Blade Runner 2049” certainly has that and could corral the sci-fi fan base, much as “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which was also from Warner Bros., did two years ago. That film won six of its 10 Oscar bids: Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

Singled out for special mention in these early raves for “Blade Runner 2049” was cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has lost all 13 of his Oscar races to date. While the lenser of the original film, Jordan Cronenweth, won prizes from both the New York and Los Angeles film critics as well as the BAFTA, he was snubbed by the cinematography branch of the academy.

Indeed, “Blade Runner” contended for just two Academy Awards losing Best Art Direction to “Gandhi” and Best Visual Effects to “E.T: The Extraterrestrial.” This time around Oscar winner Dennis Gassner (“Bugsy Malone”) oversee the production design and is likely to reap his sixth bid. Oscar favorite Hans Zimmer could pick up his 11th nomination for his collaboration with Benjamin Wallfisch on the score. Likewise for two-time Oscar nominated film editor Joe Walker. Among the other below-the-line categories, the sound and makeup teams could be cited as well as costumer Renee April.

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