Our culture has been soaked in alternate realities lately. ABC’s Lost and Fox’s 24, are a few recent influences that play with time. We are dangling, it sometimes feels, between the solid ground of our world pre-2001, and the more precarious one we continue to find ourselves in. There is a bottoming out of institutions, the potential for Global Warming to melt away the natural world, and there is still panic and fear that plays at a lower frequency all of the time.
We walk around now balancing big catastrophes in our heads: the oil spill, Wall Street, Haiti. Maybe we distract ourselves just enough to not have to absorb this information to the point of insanity but it might indicate why we are drawn to subject matter that allows us to exist and make changes within the impossible.
It is in keeping with Oscar history to honor those films that are most popular in the right now. They aren’t often ready to nab those films that really and truly do stand the test of time, because there is no way to tell when it is right in front of us whether it will have lasting impact or not. We can guess. Critics can praise them or pan them but the truth is, we just don’t know. For our purposes, we have right now.
That means it is an easy call to name Inception one of 2010’s ten best, even if it doesn’t make as much money as The Dark Knight. Because most credited The Dark Knight’s snub as the main reason the Academy upped their Best Pic count from five to ten, it seems like it would only add insult to injury to deny Christopher Nolan a second time.
But, just when you think there is no way they will do something, they go ahead and do it. There are no guarantees that there will be enough Academy members to give it one of the ten slots. Wouldn’t it be funny if they didn’t? Wouldn’t it be great if they did?
The tricky part is that Inception has won the hearts of the non-traditional film writers who populate the chatter much more so than critics. I was wondering the other day about the people who read the critics and I realized that the same people who are reading the critics are also writing about film. Because that passion never dies, bloggers are the biggest audience of film critics. Ironic, but true.
I get the feeling that a lot of Academy members aren’t all that different from the likes of David Edelstein and AO Scott — New Yorker film critics who seemed to take umbrage with the flagrant use of the word “masterpiece.” Film critics are reluctant to use the word anyway, and most of the time the horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres are excluded from that club. And they are still mostly off limits where Oscar is concerned. Few films have escaped being exiled from the Best Picture race despite their genre — The Exorcist, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and a few others over the years.
I can see them falling into three groups.
1) Those who genuinely love the film and/or starred in the film and/or know people who worked on or starred in it.
2) Those who hold their nose and vote for it whether they liked it or not, whether they saw it or not, because they feel pressured to do so because of the box office returns.
3) Those who really didn’t like it and now feel vindicated that they did the right thing when they didn’t vote for The Dark Knight, a film AO Scott still calls “overrated.”
Which of these three groups will draw the most voters? I tend to think it’s either 1 or 2, which ensures Inception has its place saved no matter how good the upcoming movies turn out to be.
The categories where Inception should glide easily into include Art Direction, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, Score, Cinematography, Visual Effects. That’s six. If it gets an editing nod it should also get a Picture and Director nominations, so we’re maybe looking at the film potentially getting nine nominations. If it were me, Nolan’s screenplay, Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio would also be nominated.
When they’re working, the Oscars honor the year’s BEST FILMS, not the year’s best OSCAR FILMS. That is a point worth repeating. The tricky part is that it’s not our tastes that matter, but theirs. Inception wasn’t badly received, and is sure to go down as one of the most memorable films this year.
Can it win? Inception may win a few Oscars. Best Picture will probably go to something else.