The new Sam Mendes epic war drama “1917” is a Best Picture contender for one simple reason: It’s fucking amazing.

Which, once I picked up my jaw from the floor, is exactly what I said to my husband after we saw the movie last week. He agreed.

Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, “1917” follows two young British soldiers on a seemingly impossible mission during World War I. The pair must venture through no man’s land and deliver orders calling off an impending attack to prevent 1,600 troops, including one soldier’s brother, from walking into certain death.

And when I say “follows,” I mean it literally.

Best Director nominee Mendes presents this story in one long, fluid shot (he gave us a taste of this in the opening scene of 2015’s “Spectre”). From the moment we meet Lance Corporals Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) in an open meadow, we’re buckled in for the journey – every uninterrupted step of the way.

This one-shot technique (one of my favorites, when its use is this purposeful) allows Mendes to tell us this story essentially in real time. And his vision is nothing less than brilliant; his camera placement puts us squarely in the middle of the action.

The audience sees, learns, and experiences everything alongside and in sync with these characters, which creates a level of anxiety that must be felt to be understood. We know nothing beyond the frame of the camera, and that uncertainty heightens both curiosity and concentration.

And all the while this continuous scene refuses to blink, keeping us on edge and hanging on every. Single. Movement.

The occasional pivot or rotation or close-up gives a slightly different perspective and some additional detail, but our attention by way of the lens never deviates from its focus. And that slow zoom – the camera barely inching closer – on General Erinmore (Colin Firth) as he doles out this mission at the film’s start gives every indication of its importance.

If your heart isn’t already pounding out of your chest, those background drum beats add to the film’s intensity and fully express the significance of this race against time.

The tension is real.

In addition to calling shots behind the camera, Sam Mendes also gets his first writing credit here. Those efforts earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

I don’t see many war movies, but “1917” is beyond impressive. I was completely mesmerized and have been raving about this flick since I left the theater. As if the story itself isn’t fascinating enough, the seemingly seamless visuals will blow your mind.

“Stories are nothing unless you’re emotionally engaged,” Mendes said in an IMDb On the Scene interview.

His statement is a hundred percent accurate, and presenting “1917” as one long take was the only way to effectively tell this story.

I held my breath. I jumped. I winced, and I gasped.

And I loved every minute of it.

You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel.

Knives Out

Well, that was fun.

“Knives Out” is the (fairly) new dramatic crime thriller from writer-director Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”). The movie also incorporates bits of dark and twisted humor – which is exactly how I like my comedy – and an ongoing element of mystery that keeps its audience fully engaged.

On the night of his 85th birthday, esteemed crime writer Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies. Enter Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, meow!), with his analytical mind, a judging gaze, and that “Kentucky-fried Foghorn Leghorn drawl.”

Without question, Detective Blanc thinks something is fishy about Harlan’s death.

“I suspect foul play,” he says.

And, with the help of Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), Detective Blanc proceeds to question the estate’s staff and, one-by-one, the members of Harlan’s unstable, self-absorbed family.

Blanc’s hope? To see through the smoke screens and beyond the distractions to find out what really happened to Harlan Thrombey.

If you’re paying attention, you know something is up from the moment each family member – including daughter Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis); son-in-law Richard (Don Johnson); son Walt (Michael Shannon); and grandchildren Ransom (Chris Evans), Meg (Katherine Langford), and Jacob (Jaeden Martell) – is seated for the inquisition.

Those close-up shots almost scream deception. And the slow zooms and pull backs as each character recalls the events of the evening in question hint that what we’re hearing and seeing may not entirely be the truth.

Director Johnson shuffles in helpful flashbacks that crisscross the storyline and help fill in the events we didn’t see that led up to the outcome serving as the film’s crux.  

Either nothing or everything is exactly what it seems. And as Detective Blanc attempts to uncover the mystery, the audience is right there with him.

“Knives Out” is an unpredictable yet delightful shell game.

The storyline is a magician’s pursuit that keeps its audience disoriented and speculating and hanging on every word, sound, movement, or glance. Everything could be a clue – or a diversion.

If you haven’t yet seen this flick, I highly recommend giving it a look. If you have seen it, I’d suggest watching this fun, shrewd puzzle again – to take notice of all the pieces that are hiding in plain sight.

You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel.