Autumn at the cinema traditionally means the appearance of would-be Oscar films, but another, newer trend has emerged: the annual grown-up A-list science-fiction movie. Starting in 2013 with Gravity, there's been and and in 2016 it's Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
A tense and surprising first-contact movie, it marks a departure for the twice-Oscar-nominated Renner. After pinging his Hawkeye bow for the fourth time in a Marvel movie during earlier this year, in Arrival he plays second fiddle, as a quiet mathematician, to a linguist played by Adams, who is trying to communicate with aliens. But by playing against type, Renner has a pivotal role in the year's smartest sci-fi, a terrific film that demands to be seen on the big screen.
ESQUIRE: Were you looking for a role unlike the ones we usually see you in?
JEREMY RENNER: That was part of the allure: this movie is something that I would never get cast in, as was the case with American Hustle for me. Here, there was nothing on the page in this script to say that this character is interesting. Nothing there. So I was hesitating. Then I thought: amazing director [Denis Villeneuve, maker of Prisoners, Sicario and the forthcoming ], amazing story and playing a smart badass woman in a lead role who reminds me of my mom and my sisters. So I did it.