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'Arrival' director feeling high hopes but no pressure ahead of Oscar night

Villeneuve keeps fingers crossed at Oscars

MONTREAL — Denis Villeneuve is certainly crossing his fingers for "Arrival" to become an Oscar winner on Sunday, but the Quebec filmmaker says he won't be disappointed even if he walks away empty-handed.

"I would love to win, and I hope we win one or two, that would be fantastic," Villeneuve told The Canadian Press on Saturday.

"I will cross my fingers, I will be excited, I will wish until the last second, but if it doesn't happen I will still be smiling."

The Canadian director says he's taking a serene approach since getting eight Oscar nominations for an "intellectual sci-fi" film like "Arrival" was "far from a given."

The film, which is adapted from Ted Chiang's novella "Story of Your Life," stars Amy Adams as a linguistics expert who goes through a transformative experience as she tries to communicate with aliens who've arrived on Earth.

Jeremy Renner plays a theoretical physicist in the Quebec-shot film, which explores how intuition, instinct and humility help communication.

"Making a film that plays with the notion of time, that has an intellectual approach and depends on intense audience participation... our chances were slim," Villeneuve said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

It will be the second trip to the Oscars for Villeneuve, who was nominated in the best foreign-language film category for "Incendies" in 2011.

This time, "Arrival" is tied with Barry Jenkins’ "Moonlight" for the second-most nods, including nominations for best picture and best director.

"La La Land" is in contention for a leading 14 awards, with nominations for best picture, best director and best actor for London, Ont., native Ryan Gosling.

Despite being up for the big honours this time around, Villeneuve, 49, insists he isn't feeling any pressure.

"Making movies for me is a life. It's not something I do to win prizes" he said. "The hardest part of my job is to last, to stand the test of time."

In the next breath he says that while he says he doesn't mind -- and even relishes -- his underdog status this time around, he does have ambitions to claim an Oscar eventually.

"I'll get there. But its fine if it's in the future," he said. "I like the idea that it's not now, of going step by step," he said. 

Villeneuve says Sunday's ceremony will come as a relief after his intense schedule over last few months, which included juggling festivals, awards shows and media appearances for "Arrival" with working on his next project, a sequel to "Blade Runner."

"It's been a great experience, but I'm happy it's ending," he said. "I'm going with a smile. No matter what happens tomorrow, I feel like we've already won."


Vicky Fragasso-Marquis, The Canadian Press