×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content