First Hit: An amazing film that focuses on the event not the actors or their characters.
Easily the best overall film of this year mainly because the vision is true and clear. Not many films make the story the highlight and focus. Mostly films have a character or two that engage the audience into the story. Here the characters are a subset of the story. This doesn’t take away from the actors or acting, but it lays the responsibility of how good this film is on the writer, editor, sound team, music, cinematography, and director.
Christopher Nolen did an amazing job of creating and giving his vision life on the big screen. This is the true story of how 800 boats, most of them small personal pleasure and fishing boats from England, crossed the English Channel to save over 338,000 allied soldiers consisting of British, French, Canadian and Belgium men who were trapped by German soldiers.
Nearly 400,000 soldiers were backed-up to the English Channel, trapped into a corner at Dunkirk, France. German planes bombed the English ships, including hospital ships taking the wounded away from the shoreline. Boats were also torpedoed and sunk. The British Government determined that sending in more large ships and planes to assist these trapped troops would only result in more losses of people and hardware.
The call went out to boat owners in England to sail to Dunkirk and save as many men as possible. Their low water draft meant they could also get closer to shore.
The film follows a couple of the English pilots in their Spitfires as they sacrificed themselves to knock German plains from the sky. It follows a couple of soldiers as they try to find their way to a boat to take them to freedom, alive. It gives the viewer glimpses of British command thinking through Commander Bolton. And it follows a man and his sons in their small boat attempting to save as many as possible. The line shown in the previews and used in the film, “there’s no turning away from this…” was poignantly perfect.
Everyone who played a character in this film is to be lauded. Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard, Aneurin Barnard, Lee Armstrong, James Bloor, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance, Tom Glynn-Carney, Tom Hardy, and Kenneth Branagh, just to name a few, were fantastic in each of their respective roles. The music by Hans Zimmer was astounding. The sound effects and its use was spot on perfect. Hoyte Van Hoytema created a sublime view as director of photography. As I previously noted Christopher Nolen’s script and direction was clearly top-notch. This film is his crowning achievement thus far.
Overall: As of July 2017, clearly best film of the year.