With Prisoners, Sicario and now Arrival, director Denis Villeneuve has proven to be a master of tone.
Arrival is a perfect example of all the different pieces of filmmaking working together in service of a singular vision.
Amy Adams performance is subtle and layered.
The pacing is deliberately slow but we are never shown things that are extraneous to the story.
Young's cinematography and Johannsson's score go hand in hand.
Feeling both alien and unknown at times or human and personal at others, and sometimes they begin to bleed together.
There is something hidden at the core of Arrival and the script is not interested in spoon feeding the audience, but at the same time it is never misleading or deceptive.
When the revelation does unfold towards the end of the film, it feels like a natural progression in the story and leaves you looking at the rest of the film in a whole new light.
A common pitfall with 'Twist' movies is that the reveal can cheapen the rest of the movie, if it feels unearned or becomes the whole point. In Arrival, it injects the entire film with so much more meaning and purpose.
I saw it twice and you almost have to, in order to appreciate the full depth of Adam's performance. It's the kind of film that, in the hands of lesser filmmakers, could have easily become pretentious but instead Arrival is expertly crafted, sincere, and one of the best films of the year.