Best Picture Nominee: “Dunkirk”

From left: James D'Arcy and Kenneth Branagh as Colonel Winnant and Commander Bolton, respectively, in the Christopher Nolan written and directed Second World War historical period drama “Dunkirk” (2017)

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the action period drama “Dunkirk” is one of two films set during the Second World War nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

With their soldiers surrounded by the German Army, the British and French are left with little option but attempt a risky evacuation of their forces via sea at Dunkirk.

With an ensemble cast featuring Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy, the film picked up a total of eight Academy Awards nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Production Design.


This is the first of the nine films nominated for Best Picture where the director has been recognised for his directorial work. With having already received the Best Director awards from AACTA International Awards, the Dublin Film Critics’ Circle, the Florida Film Critics Circle, the Online Film Critics Society, the Seattle Film Critics Society and the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association, Nolan has a good chance of picking up the Academy Award for Best Director.

If the “Dunkirk” director does receive the directorial award this coming March, based on Academy Awards history, Nolan also has a good chance seeing his film garner the Best Picture statuette. Despite this point, there are times when the Academy Awards top two categories are not won by the same production.

The people responsible for cinematography, film editing, music, production design and costume design for “Dunkirk” were Hoyte Van Hoytema, Lee Smith, Hans Zimmer, Nathan Crowley and Jeffrey Kurland, respectively. Each person proved their worth to the production by presenting the highest level of work they could muster.


Having been responsible for editing such titles as “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003), “Dark Knight” trilogy (2005 – 2012), “Interstellar” (2014) and “Spectre” (2015), “Dunkirk” was not Smith’s first rodeo. Scheduled for release later this year, Smith is currently editing the Simon Kinberg directed Marvel Comics based “X-Men: Dark Phoenix.”

When it comes to production design, Crowley was charged with creating much of the film’s ambiance. If you are familiar with the HBO science fiction Western series “Westworld,” you should be aware Crowley is the production designer on this series.


No one can deny music is important to the overall feel of a film. When it comes to adding the right feel to scenes, Zimmer is an expert. During a career spanning more than 35 years, inclusive of “Castaway” (1986), “As Good as It Gets” (1997), “Black Hawk Down” (2001), “Frost/Nixon” (2008) and “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012), Zimmer has provided music for 115 productions.


Another aspect of film production which must be on point is costume design. Set during the Second World War, “Dunkirk” had to accurately reflect the period in which it is set. That means clothing typical of the late 1930s early 1940s. What did British military uniforms look like? What clothing would civilians have been dressed in during this period? Historical accuracy is important, there is no doubt. Addressing Nolan’s costume needs was Kurland.

Do you remember “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986), “Radio Days” (1987), “Erin Brockovich” (2000), “Hidalgo” (2004) and “The Dictator” (2012)? Kurland was responsible for ensuring the respective casts of these films were equipped with costumes suitable for the productions.