How ‘Dune’ went from ‘unfilmable’ to a major Oscars player

Four people in protective suits stand in a desolate landscape.
“Dune” with, from left, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Javier Bardem and Timothée Chalamet.
(Chia Bella James / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Adapted from Frank Herbert’s beloved book, the sci-fi epic “Dune” was a movie many never expected they’d see. Others tried to bring Herbert’s complex world to the screen, but it was director Denis Villeneuve who finally delivered a critical and commercial success. The Warner Bros. release was fronted by two of today’s hottest young actors: Timotheé Chalamet and Zendaya (though the latter’s involvement in the film was decried as being all too brief).

“Dune” earned 10 nominations for the 2022 Oscars: cinematography, costume design, film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, sound, visual effects, adapted screenplay and best picture — though, in a surprise, Villeneuve did not make the cut in the directing category.

Although this is only Part 1 of a planned two-part adaptation, for Times critic Justin Chang “it’s hard to deny the excitement of feeling swept up in this movie’s great squalls of sand, spice and interplanetary intrigue, realized with a level of craft so overpowering in its dust-choked aridity that you may want to pull your mask up a little tighter in the theater.”