I enjoyed Arrival, it has a lot of interesting ideas. It took me a little while to adjust, because, having seen the posters of huge alien space ships hovering over major cities, I went in expecting a Hollywood sci-fi special effects blockbuster. This is more of an indie film given a larger than usual budget. Once I had realised that and changed my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story is good, both thought provoking and positive. Normally, I like linear narrative, but on this occasion the oblique storytelling suited the tale and the mood of the movie. The lead character is a little two dimensional, but beautifully acted by Amy Adams. The direction is fantastic, Denis Villeneuve has the confidence to make it very slow and deliberate, unusual in the sci-fi genre. He also had the bravery to open himself to the possibility of ridicule, by showing us the alien ships, showing us the aliens, defining their method of communication. This could have seemed preposterous, but in the end, they seemed believable and, particularly in the case of the writing, even beautiful.
The cinematography is lovely, very clever juxtaposition between the wide open spaces of Montana and the cramped confines of their camp. The soundtrack is exceptional, worthy of listening to even without the accompanying film. Everything about this film is high quality, however, the bang that you get for your buck is much more cerebral than is usual in a Hollywood Sci-fi blockbuster, and you should be aware of that before you decide to go.
Arrival was nominated for 8 Oscars at the 2017 Academy Awards, including best movie, but the only one it won was for achievement in sound editing. It appears in many best of year lists for 2016, topping some of them.