Dunkirk's first reviews tip it as an Oscar contender

Justin Harp
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

From Digital Spy

Christopher Nolan is receiving some of the most glowing reviews of his esteemed career for his hugely-anticipated World War II film Dunkirk.

In the years since he took us to the outer-edges of space travel in Interstellar, the director has spent time looking back at a turning point in Western history: the notorious battle between the Allies and the Germans at Dunkirk in 1940.

Tackling a period war drama is a gamble that's seemed to pay off in spades, with early social media reviews singling out his innovative visuals and a breakout performance from Harry Styles as an army private.

Now, it's time for the critics to have their say on whether Dunkirk is a sure-fire Oscar candidate. Below, we round up a selection of critical reviews - including Digital Spy's own - to give you an idea of what to expect:

1. Digital Spy

"Don't like war films? Don't like Nolan? Don't care for Harry Styles? Don't care. Go and see this anyway.

"Dunkirk is the film Nolan has been building to his entire career. It's his masterpiece, it's the best film of the year so far, and it's the one to beat come awards time."

2. Variety

"Steven Spielberg laid claim to the Normandy beach landing, Clint Eastwood owns Iwo Jima, and now, Christopher Nolan has authored the definitive cinematic version of Dunkirk."

3. Entertainment Weekly

"This is visceral, big-budget filmmaking that can be called Art. It's also, hands down, the best motion picture of the year so far."

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

4. The Independent

"[Harry] Styles is very competent and his performance does not stick out like a saw thumb as many feared; you immediately except him as a soldier alongside the infinitely less recognisable others.

"He doesn't exactly have any especially challenging scenes, but he is solid and takes the job seriously and I imagine, for better or worse, many lead feature film roles will follow if he wants them, given the immediate box office injection that comes with his casting."

5. The Telegraph

"Dunkirk is every inch a British film, with no detectable concessions to the international market. There isn't, for instance, the commercially fortunate presence of an American face among the cast – although there is a bright, convicted, and unexpectedly not-at-all-jarring performance from Harry Styles, formerly of the boyband One Direction, as one of the young soldiers on the beach."

6. Empire

"Dunkirk is a study of people under immense pressure, from Rylance's civilian-on-a-rescue-mission (call him the FBG - Friendly Boat Guy) to Cillian Murphy's traumatised wreck-survivor (credited only as 'Shivering Soldier') to Harry Styles' bolshy infantry grunt (an impressive debut performance, and definitely not the Rihanna-in-Battleship debacle you may have feared)."

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

7. The Mirror

"After his ponderous sci-fi opus Interstellar, and his bloated Batman epic The Dark Knight Rises, this is Nolan's finest film to date, an immersive and emotional masterpiece and a superb return to form."

8. GQ

"Dunkirk feels like this decade's Band of Brothers, a film likely to be the launchpad for the next set of hot, young British actors."

9. The AP

"I've never experienced anything quite like Dunkirk's intoxicating immediacy. The screen and images envelope you with urgency, dread and moments of breathtaking beauty and grace as you wait with the soldiers, as the title card at the beginning says, for deliverance."

10. The Guardian

"Nolan's Dunkirk has that kind of blazing big-screen certainty that I last saw in James Cameron's Titanic or Paul Greengrass's United 93. It is very different to his previous feature, the bafflingly overhyped sci-fi convolution Interstellar.

"This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen."

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Dunkirk arrives in UK and US cinemas on Friday (July 21). Watch our interview with director Christopher Nolan below:

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