We're in a very interesting place at the moment with Blade Runner 2049 stunning audiences worldwide just as talk of next year's Oscars starts to ramp up.
So we thought we'd combine the two and discuss what the epic sci-fi sequel deserves to win at the 2018 Academy Awards.
This is a very difficult one as sci-fi movies are often overlooked due to Oscar conservatism. Nevertheless Blade Runner director Denis Villeneuve's previous movie Arrival gathered a massive amount of awards attention including eight Oscar noms (one of which was for Best Picture).
It's therefore not out of the ordinary for a sci-fi epic to be at least recognised in the Academy Awards race (Nell Blomkamp's terrific District 9 also got a nomination for Best Picture in 2010), but in terms of actually winning the prize? That may be harder to call.
There's no denying Blade Runner 2049 has the ambition, scope and intelligence to rival any potential contender so watch this space.
There's no denying Villeneuve's standing as one of the most acclaimed contemporary directors. Virtually all of his movies have gathered glowing reviews and his Rotten Tomato scores are formidable: Incendies with 92%, Prisoners with 81%, Enemy with 75%, Sicario with 94%, Arrival with 94% and Blade Runner 2049 with 89%.
All of the aforementioned movies have demonstrated his skill as wrestling committed performances from actors, not to mention his skill with darkly atmospheric and suspenseful set-pieces. Just think of the gridlocked shootout from Sicario as an example – sweaty, slow-burning tension rarely gets more visually arresting.
His movies have gathered 12 Oscar nominations between them and actors love his emphasis on story and human themes.
This is what Amy Adams told South China Morning Post about working on Arrival: "When I met Denis, he really zeroed in on the fact that this was a very emotional story. All of this other stuff will be happening but at the end of the day it’s a story about a woman and her child, and the choices she makes. That’s really interesting to play in a sci-fi movie about communication and global war."
Best Original Screenplay
Blade Runner 2049 has gathered much acclaim for both drawing on the mythology of Ridley Scott's original movie whilst also advancing it into new areas.
The Los Angeles of the sequel is beset by even more climate woes, surrounded by an impenetrable sea wall, technology has become even more enmeshed with humanity (Ryan Gosling's character K has a holographic girlfriend, played by Ana De Armas) and Harrison Ford's Deckard has a complex 30-year history that the movie fills us in on.
Full credit to writers Hampton Fancher (who worked on the original movie) and Michael Green (responsible for Logan and the upcoming Murder on the Orient Express) for their uncompromising loyalty to the dense, rich and complex Blade Runner universe, not to mention author Philip K. Dick's original themes. This is no action movie but a story that asks deep, troubling questions about humanity.
Much of the movie's impact hinges on the elusive, otherwordly yet subtly powerful performance from Ryan Gosling as K, a new Blade Runner striving to come to terms with his own identity in a world where the line between man and machine has become increasingly blurred.
K's character arc gives the sequel arguably more emotional weight than the original Blade Runner, putting Gosling's inscrutability as seen in Drive to excellent use whilst allowing him to act as our emotional link to this cold, austere, futuristic world.
Gosling has been nominated once before (for quirky comedy Lars and the Real Girl) but it's really his remarkable track record of acclaimed performances that stands him in good stead.
Drive, Blue Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love, The Ides of March, Only God Forgives, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Nice Guys and recent musical smash La La Land all met with significant critical attention. Can he finally clinch that Oscar?
Best Supporting Actor
Talking of actors who've never won an Oscar, Harrison Ford is perhaps the most surprising. In fact despite one of the most famous and long-running careers in Hollywood he's only ever been recognised once, for 1985 Amish-themed drama Witness. Quite remarkable in a career that's spanned Star Wars, the Indiana Jones movies, Working Girl, The Mosquito Coast and a stint as Tom Clancy hero Jack Ryan.
Blade Runner 2049 arguably draws the finest performance from the veteran A-lister in years. He's not been cast to turn up as Harrison Ford: we can palpably see Deckard wrestling with his own past as Ford delivers a thorny, anguished and complex turn, leant more depth by the actor's own troubled relationship with the original movie, which he famously disliked starring in.
It's a dark, brave and ambitious performance and deserves Oscar attention.
Blade Runner 2049 has surely got this one in the bag. Cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated 12 times for an Oscar but has never won, a travesty when you consider he's shot such classics as The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo and Skyfall, not to mention Denis Villeneuve's previous movies Prisoners and Sicario.
Put simply, Deakins' luscious, eye-popping visuals are as much of a character K and Deckard. Popping from the screen in a variety of blue, orange and pink hues, defying our eyeballs with an onslaught of geometric patterns and smoke clouds, the movie is a work of art. If the movie doesn't win this, there is no justice in the world.
Best Original Score
Does Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch's music constitute droning noise or an intelligent, ambient extension of Vangelis' classic original soundtrack?
Whatever side of the fence you come down on you can't deny the score's effectiveness in Blade Runner 2049, engulfing the audience in hazy electronic waves that alternate between the euphoric and the menacing.
And when the two composers quote directly from Vangelis, particularly the movie adaptation of the 'Tears in Rain' cue during the powerful climax, the music creates the perfect synergy of past, present and future. It's not an easy score but one that serves the movie brilliantly – which surely is the key aim?