Recent reports suggest that before the coronavirus shut down most film productions, director Alejandro González Iñárritu was gearing up for his first feature in five years. Better yet, he was doing so beside cinematographer Bradford Young, known for Selma, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Arrival, the latter of which earned Young an Oscar nomination.
The report comes courtesy of Mexican newspaper El Universal (via The Film Stage), who got the scoop on Iñárritu and Young scouting locations and doing camera tests in Mexico City, most notably Chapultepec Castle. No plot details are out there yet, but the tests reportedly featured an eclectic batch of references and details, including 90s period clothing, cardboard cutouts of politicians Carlos Salinas de Gortari and José López Portillo, and pieces of the sets from enormously popular Mexican comedy show El Chavo del Ocho.
Pairing up with Young would be a notable move on its own, but any film Iñárritu chooses to do next will be a major story. The filmmaker became the third director in history—and the first since 1950—to win back-to-back Academy Awards with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014 and The Revenant in 2015. (Birdman also took home Best Picture, with a Best Original Screenplay win to boot.) In the time since, Iñárritu has only helmed the VR short film Carne y Arena. If this mystery project comes to fruition it would not only be Iñárritu’s long-anticipated return to feature filmmaking, but also his first film set in Mexico since 2006’s Babel starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
Oh, and for anyone wondering why Iñárritu isn’t working with his usual three-time Oscar-winning cinematography extraordinaire Emmanuel Lubezki, it’s because he is busy with David O. Russell‘s new feature. Some really freaking good-looking movies coming down the pipeline when this whole pandemic thing ends.