The achievements of a movie as monumental as 12 Years a Slave will take us years to fully appreciate. Over the next few weeks and months we’ll do our best to highlight the most stunning parts of its artistry. We’ll need to go deep to do it justice. I saw it for the first time 2 hours ago. Still in the dumbstruck phase, speechless. But elbowing its way into my head past deeper thoughts is the question of whether it’s possible for 12 Years a Slave to match the record 14 nominations racked up by All About Eve and Titanic. In order to do so, it would need to touch every branch, nearly every category. I remember reading what Harvey Weinstein said when Shakespeare in Love got 13 nominations: If only we had composed a rap music track to be eligible for Best Original Song!

Driving home, I was almost wishing the same thing for !2 Years. In my inbox I found a better answer to that wish:

Songwriter Nicholas Britell Creates Original Song “My Lord Sunshine (Sunrise)” to Reflect 1840s Spirituals and Field Songs in Steve McQueen’s Critically Acclaimed 12 Years a Slave. Britell Also Wrote and Arranged Four Additional Songs on the Film’s Soundtrack.

As the film 12 Years a Slave opens, we see a group of slaves chopping sugar cane and toiling away in the field, and we hear perfectly synchronized to their chopping, their chorus…

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(Thanks, Brandon!)

There are a few songs to keep in mind for this year, although this is a very bizarre category, along with Doc Feature and Foreign Film that is almost impossible to guess correctly. Their picks are usually kind of wacky – like snubbing Bruce Springsteen for The Wrestler song….

This list was sent to me by a publicist but I think it’s a pretty good compilation. A couple of things to note – the Gwyneth Paltrow song is here but it isn’t Country Strong (above). There are two songs performed by Paltrow, and Tim McGraw. I’d also like to give a shout out to the Made in Dagenham song which was written by Billy Bragg and sung by Sandy Shaw.

I’d also like to give some major props to the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross score for The Social Network. It serves every purpose a film score is supposed to, in that it forwards the story so much that it’s almost a character in its own right. Many people assume the Academy voters are too stodgy to go for this one but here’s to hoping they can change their minds about it.

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A tip from Andrew leads us to this musical equation finding the common denominator between Inception’s two most familiar crescendos. Dude, whoa. Just, like, whoa.

For those who’ve already seen Inception in early screenings, please float by to share your feelings. We don’t often devote a topic to an exclusive open forum, but maybe a movie as thought-provoking as Inception could use a meeting place where readers can congregate for coffeehouse conversation. The comments here are likely to be rife with spoilers, so don’t dive in unless you already know whatever there is to know.

[BFCA UPDATE: Thanks to ladylurks for keeping track of the Critic’s Choice rankings of the year’s best reviewed films to date. Here the new line-up for the BFCA’s top 3 narrative feature feature films of 2010, with a more complete list after the cut.]

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Inception’s critical scorecard gets a boost from the last wave of reviews. Count The LA Times‘ Kenneth Turan in tight with the ‘blown away’ team:

Welcome to the world of “Inception,” written and directed by the masterful Christopher Nolan, a tremendously exciting science-fiction thriller that’s as disturbing as it sounds. This is a popular entertainment with a knockout punch so intense and unnerving it’ll have you worrying if it’s safe to close your eyes at night.

Not to belabor a point made again and again over past few days, but one’s enjoyment of the film is clearly connected to one’s ability to keep up with what’s happening. In short, Turan “gets it.”

For “Inception” is not only about the dream state, it often plays on screen in a dreamlike way, which means that it has the gift of being easier to follow than to explain… But even while literal understanding can remain tantilizingly out of reach, you always intuitively understand what is going on and why.

Helping in that understanding, and one of the film’s most satisfying aspects, are its roots in old-fashioned genre entertainment, albeit genre amped up to warp speed. Besides its science-fiction theme, “Inception” also has strong film noir ties, easily recognizable elements like the femme fatale, doomed love and the protagonist’s fateful decision to take on “one last job.”

Likewise, instead of wrestling and fuming in frustration if every bit narrative flair doesn’t immediately click into place, Ann Hornaday at The Washington Post is happy to relax, submit, and be swept up in its thrall:

Rather than trying to game out “Inception” on first viewing, it’s best to let it wash over you, and save the head-scratching and inevitable Talmudic interpretations for later.

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