Bill Brownstein/ Montreal Gazette
Denis Villeneuve didn’t nab an Academy Award nomination for best director. Nor did Blade Runner 2049, Villeneuve’s magnificently dystopian take on the original 1982 Ridley Scott film, get an Oscar nod for best film. Also shut out were the film’s stars, Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.
But the Quebec director is thrilled with the five technical nominations garnered by his ambitious, nearly three-hour-long sci-fi epic, which was budgeted at around $155 million.
“I feel relieved … there was a lot of strong competition this year,” Villeneuve said, following Tuesday morning’s nominations announcements. “It was intense this year, because it was a cross mix between politics and art (of films that were being made). And I feel relieved that the movie has been recognized for its artistry and that we got five nominations. I never take things for granted. Until the very last second, I was praying for some nominations.
“I told my family I would celebrate if we got five. And so I did celebrate.”
The five nominations were for cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects and production design. Villeneuve noted that there were many local and Canadian technical personnel involved in these categories, including Montreal-based Rodeo FX visual artists and production designer Dennis Grassner, a previous Oscar winner for Bugsy.
“The nominations have put the spotlight on people who are usually in the shadows. Everybody hears about the actors, actresses and directors, but not about the people who work so hard in the shadows.
“Sure, I am disappointed (about not getting best director or film nominations) — that’s the truth,” Villeneuve said. “But my hopes were small there, because the film didn’t do well at the U.S. box office. It did well in the rest of the world, but when the film doesn’t perform well at the U.S. box office, it’s very uncommon to get (those) nominations.
“The movie is kind of a hybrid — half art-house, half blockbuster — and those movies aren’t being made anymore. But it was acclaimed by film critics and was very well received in Hollywood,” added Villeneuve, who has also directed such acclaimed Hollywood films as Sicario and Arrival, not to mention such Québécois classics as Polytechnique and Incendies.
Villeneuve, who is at work on a new adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune and who turned down the opportunity to direct the next James Bond caper, Bond 25, has no regrets whatsoever about his Blade Runner 2049 experience.
“Listen, I had the time of my life making the movie I did. I took a lot of risks — and one of them was that it was considered a brainy and long movie,” he said. “That’s why I was crossing all my fingers this morning and feel so deeply relieved and deeply pleased about the film getting those nominations and being recognized for its artistic strength … It’s a nice way to end this journey.”