Movie review: 1917
It has been 20 years since Sam Mendes last won an Oscar, which was for American Beauty.
And with his latest offering 1917, it is safe to say he can start drafting his acceptance speech again.
Beyond the hype over the English writer-director's "one-take" filming approach, this war epic is much more than technical marvels, awe-inspiring cinematography and evocative score (although these will probably scoop up some awards too).
The story is so deceptively simple, but the mission itself is fraught with obstacles.
From the moment friends Lance Corporal William Schofield (George MacKay) and Lance Corporal Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given their orders, prepare for non-stop tension, suspense, drama and action.
Over their physical and emotional journey, there will be quiet, contemplative moments that give us welcome respite - tears will be shed too.
At times, you feel like you are utterly immersed in a video game, as the protagonists move from location to location with urgency, inching closer to their destination.
And what set pieces Mendes delivers.
From the creepiness of the German trenches to the false sense of tranquillity at an abandoned farmhouse, there is no shortage of haunting images.
But the most impressive sequence is an overnight cat-and-mouse chase set in a destroyed French town - you have to see it to believe it, and then you will never forget it.
With events unfolding through the perspectives of ordinary soldiers, casting relative unknowns as the two leads is a genius move - although while watching Chapman, Game Of Thrones fans may gasp a little at the unrecognisable transformation of King Tommen (there is another GOT link at the end too).
Performance-wise, MacKay and Chapman deserve a salute for carrying the whole thing so effortlessly.
Full of thrills and spills yet surprisingly intimate and personal, 1917 is a breathtaking, profound tour de force, easily sealing its position as one of the greatest war films of all time.
Looking forward to its Oscar victory lap come Feb 9.
STARRING: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
THE SKINNY: At the height of World War I, two British soldiers (MacKay and Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission – to cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of their own.