Written and directed by Jeff Nichols. 2016.
Fellow Arkansan Jeff Nichols is emerging as one of the most original and talented voices working in movies today. I’ve seen three of his four films — Take Shelter, Mud, and Midnight Special (Shotgun Stories is still out there, waiting on me) — and all three have featured a by-turns lyrical and spartan style, outstanding character work, and deftly structured plots. They’re engaging and resonant. They dig deep, down to the roots. I imagine the pitch for Midnight Special had something to do with John Carpenter-meets-Steven Spielberg, with a little Kubrick on the side. But the story plays out in such an original fashion — beginning in media res and following Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Jaeden Lieberher until their journey’s end (and perhaps beyond) — that I can’t help feeling Nichols stands wholly apart from any other contemporaries. He’s in a class of his own, a director to watch; he’s building a stairway to greatness.