Dinner with Oscar: Dunkirk

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The Oscars: The Super Bowl for cinephiles. I went to a Super Bowl party and paid far more attention to the food and drink than I did to the game. But for the Oscars party I’m attending I will be zoning out all conversation around me and focusing on the speeches, the jokes, the clothes and, of course, the awards.

My husband and I do our best to watch every movie nominated for the Best Picture award before the ceremony. We also attend a party for which attendants bring a dish that is somehow connected to the movie they were randomly assigned. 

At this point, I have seen three of the nominated pictures, so I have five to go. I will be writing short reviews of each film and, as a bonus, suggesting a dish or two to accompany the film. 

First up: Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan is a well-respected director who, before this year, had never been nominated for a Best Director Oscar. He has two Best Original Screenplay nominations for Memento [2000] and Inception [2010] and Inception also garnered a Best Picture nomination but was beat out by The King’s Speech.

Nolan does not direct the kind of movies that get nominated for Academy Awards, but he also directs exactly the kind of movies that get nominated for Academy Awards. His filmography is mostly made up of superhero movies and action movies and, in that way, he’s been a victim of the genre snobbery of the academy. But his movies are also cerebral and creative -- exactly the kind of thing the Academy loves to award. 

So, when he released war drama Dunkirk, whispers of an Oscars nomination started right away. Like the Academy was just waiting for him to release the right kind of movie. It’s silly, but Dunkirk is absolutely deserving of the nomination. 

It is a film about the evacuation of the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France during World War II, a topic which is oddly popular this year. Fellow Best Picture nominee and Gary Oldman vehicle, The Darkest Hour is about the same situation from Winston Churchill’s perspective. Dunkirk views the operation from three perspectives: air, land, and sea. 

I saw it in theatres shortly after it was released and thoroughly enjoyed it. My only gripe was that the dialogue was difficult to understand because the background noise of general mayhem was so loud. But that may very well have been intentional: it seems like a Nolan kind of thing to do to imitate via sound the chaos and confusion of a terrifying military evacuation.  

Nolan likes to reuse actors. Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, some of his regular players are here with the addition of Mark Rylance in a forceful portrayal of a citizen sailor trying to save as many soldiers as possible. I’m surprised Rylance didn’t garner a best supporting actor nomination.

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Dunkirk is nominated for a total of 8 awards: Picture, Director, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, and Original Score. If I had to guess, while I think Dunkirk is a very good film, I think it will win only one or both of the sound awards. Of course, I have at this point seen only two of the other nominees so it’s hard for me to say anything with too much confidence at this point. 

Now for the main course, what to make as you celebrate Dunkirk: Brie and jam hand pies, because brie is French, hand pies are British, and jam is both. You can use frozen puff pastry to make this extra easy (and decadent). 

Alternatively, if you want to be a bit cheeky, you can make bangers surrounded by German potato salad.