After Oscar Winners ‘Get Out’ and ‘The Shape of Water,’ Could ‘A Quiet Place’ Tickle the Academy’s Genre Fancy?

With a monster (no pun intended) opening weekend box office haul and one of the most impressive critical approval ratings of the year so far, John Krasinski’s hushed thriller “A Quiet Place” is stirring its share of awards talk. We’re certainly in a new Oscar era, but can the buzz hold?

Just over a month ago, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” won the best picture Oscar, just the second victory for a fantasy film in the motion picture Academy’s 90-year history. Jordan Peele’s horror satire “Get Out,” meanwhile, claimed the original screenplay prize. Genre filmmaking had quite a moment in general, with other movies like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Logan” picking up major awards attention throughout the season.

The Academy’s ongoing diversification and internationalization initiative, adding waves of newer, often younger members over the last two years, has yielded plenty of discussion about representation and inclusion on screen. Less considered are the possibilities for a broader swath of styles, technique and, indeed, genres to register with Oscar voters. “A Quiet Place” doesn’t have the social underpinnings of del Toro and Peele’s efforts working for it, but it does have craft to spare.

Indeed, “it’s really well done” has probably been the most widely shared sentiment I’ve heard about Krasinski’s near-silent visual storytelling feast. Of course. It had to be. “A Quiet Place” is wholly dependent on the world conjured by the 38-year-old writer, director and star, a world that has to remain credible on a bit of a high wire — as viewers try to find the appropriate moments to crunch their popcorn. If you see it in a packed theater, glance back at the audience; Krasinski has them eating out of the palm of his hand. He effortlessly composes set pieces and, to use an overworked phrase, ratchets tension with ease.

At a time when film writing often emphasizes zeitgeist import over analysis of craft, it’s pleasing to see Krasinski’s efforts find such a foothold with critics in addition to audiences. The film settled at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes’ review aggregation scale, and it scored an 82 on Metacritic (good enough to best a number of last year’s Oscar contenders, including “Darkest Hour,” “The Disaster Artist,” “I, Tonya” and the aforementioned “Logan”). A $50 million launch at the box office on a $17 million budget, meanwhile, pretty much guarantees the franchise-strapped Paramount Pictures will be exploring sequel options.

Basically, like “Black Panther” — though clearly on a different level — “A Quiet Place” has become an industry story. It could continue to resonate all the way into the season for those who recognize what Krasinski pulled off in his third film. The Directors Guild has branched out lately to include efforts like Dan Trachtenberg’s “10 Cloverfield Lane” and this feels like about that speed, so who knows?

Emily Blunt’s performance also bears mentioning; it’s one of 2018’s best leading actress turns so far, along with Toni Collette’s towering work in another genre picture this year, Sundance hit “Hereditary.” And a screenplay notice would be inspired, given how the writers spin a compelling, can’t-look-away yarn without the crutch of dialogue. More realistic, however, would be sound recognition, particularly the effects work from Oscar-winning sound editing duo Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn (“King Kong,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”). As you can imagine, “A Quiet Place” lives or dies on its aural atmosphere.

Whether Krasinski’s film can linger long enough to still be in the consideration pool at year’s end is still to be seen, but it’s a solid start to the spring and it has people talking. That’s about as firm a footing as you can hope for with the 91st annual Academy Awards basically almost a year away.

POPULAR ON VARIETY

More Film

  • "THE GENTLEMEN"

    Box Office: 'The Gentlemen' Opens With $700,000 on Thursday Night

    STX’s Matthew McConaughey crime movie “The Gentlemen” has opened with a moderate $700,000 at 1,885 North American locations on Thursday night. Horror thriller “The Turning” launched with $425,000 at 2,200 sites on Thursday night. The movie, based on Henry James’ 1898 novella “The Turn of the Screw,” stars Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard and Brooklynn Prince. [...]

  • Aubrey Plaza

    Aubrey Plaza on 'Intense Experience' of Sundance Thriller 'Black Bear,' Her 'Judy' Obsession

    Aubrey Plaza gives a go-for-broke performance in “Black Bear,” a galvanizing and serpentine thriller about a weekend getaway that goes dangerously off the rails. The film premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday and Plaza’s work is a million miles removed from April Ludgate, the deadpan and apathetic intern from “Parks and Recreation” that [...]

  • NARCOS MEXICO

    Gaumont Scales Down U.S. Operations, Anticipates Big Losses (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont, the once thriving French studio behind “The Intouchables” and “Narcos,” is set to rejig its film and TV strategy as it anticipates heavy losses in 2019. Variety can reveal that the company has all but shut down its TV distribution operations in the U.S., recently axing 12 employees, including Vanessa Shapiro, president of worldwide [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari BTS

    Cinema Audio Society Nominees Represent Wide Range of Genres

    There’s an exceptional level of craftsmanship among this year’s nominees for the Cinema Audio Society Awards, which recognizes outstanding accomplishments in sound mixing, a collaborative discipline that requires sound editors, re-recording mixers, Foley and ADR artistry to work together to create a harmonious finished product. The categories considered are: live action, animated and documentary features, [...]

  • My Name is Baghdad

    Reel Suspects Acquires Berlinale Generation Title 'My Name is Baghdad' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Reel Suspects has acquired international sales rights to Caru Alves de Souza’s coming-of-age tale “My Name is Baghdad,” which will world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in the Generation 14 section. The film was produced by Manjericão Filmes and Tangerina Entretenimento. It follows a 17-year-old female skater named Baghdad who lives in a working-class [...]

  • My Salinger Year

    Berlin Film Festival to Open With Sigourney Weaver, Margaret Qualley Starrer 'My Salinger Year'

    The 70th edition of the Berlinale will open with Philippe Falardeau’s anticipated “My Salinger Year,” headlined by a powerful female duo, Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley. Set in New York’s literary world in the 90’s, the coming-of-age story is based on Joanna Rakoff’s international bestseller and follows Joanna (Qualley), who leaves graduate school to pursue [...]

  • Bad Hair

    'Bad Hair': Film Review

    The year is 1989 and New Jack Swing is about to push black culture from the margins to the mainstream. The question for the black employees of Culture, the music TV station at the center of writer-director Justin Simien’s delightfully macabre horror-dramedy “Bad Hair,” is what image do they — and their white executive Grant [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content