The Aliens from Arrival Review the Oscar Nominees for Visual Effects

We learned many new words when we arrived on your Earth. Cars. Chickens. Bowling. High-fructose corn syrup. Movies. The Academy Award Nominations for Best Visual Effects.

We have some thoughts. And many questions.

Why was Arrival not nominated? Why was Kubo and the Two Strings? Is that not animated? We learned the meaning of “animated,” and we think yes.

This confuses us. We are aliens. You are humans. Doctor Strange is what? Human? Not human? Alien? Answer us.

Is the criteria for nomination just having Tilda Swinton in your movie? We could have given her a role. We trade you Jeremy Renner for Tilda Swinton.

Why was Arrival not nominated?

We do not perceive time linearly. What is coming and what has happened are all one. One day we were in birth process. One day we will be in death process. We know who wins, we know who loses. We know who should have won. Arrival. Very good film we hear. Very realistic CGI.

What is Jungle, and why does it have a Book, and why is The Jungle Book a movie and not a book? Is it book? What is book? We did not enjoy The Jungle Book.

Arrival is not about jungles. It is about the meaning of life in universe. It is about love, soul, all of us, everything, stars. It has homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey. You think monolith spaceships were coincidence? We could have chosen any spaceship. We have many brands on home planet, like you have many brands of luxury sedans. We chose monoliths for you. And for the Academy.

That worked out great, we say sarcastically. We learned sarcasm. Is this sarcasm? We enjoy sarcasm.

We did not enjoy Rogue One. We found Rogue One offensive. This is not what space is. Space is monoliths hurtling through emptiness, containing nothing but strange white smoke and an indeterminate amount of giant aliens. And apparently no food. In hindsight that was a design flaw on our part. Is that why Arrival was not nominated?

Rogue One has most aliens look like humans. This is not true. Wrong. Humans look like humans. Heptapods look like heptapods. Tilda Swintons look like Tilda Swintons.

But Forest Whitaker’s performance was masterful. He is our friend. Was he nominated? Of course not. Not even for Visual Effects. Not even for Sound Mixing.

What is Sound Mixing? No one could tell us. We have no concept of linear time or Sound Mixing.

We have a gift, a tool for humans. It will change future for galaxy. We know because we see future. We see past. We know Academy makes mistakes, like Avatar. Another movie with incorrect aliens. Why did it make so much money? It was just blue Dances with Wolves! Answer us.

Yet life continues. Life goes on. Arrival remains underappreciated. We did not see Deepwater Horizon.


Written by Matthew Disler

Matthew Disler

Matthew Disler, like some species of weakling migratory birds or evolutionarily flawed butterflies, has lived in New York; Richmond, Virginia; Boston; and New York again. His food allergies are the bane of all Vietnamese restaurants, and his work has appeared in McSweeney’s and CAFE, among other sites.