Tyson from Nolanfans.com has a question for AD readers regarding Inception’s Oscar chances.
There are a lot of questions and concerns about Inception’s chances in the awards season and whether the voters will embrace it as much as we think they will. No doubt it’s a truly groundbreaking and innovative film, but a lot of critics and viewers have complained about the lack of genuine emotions in the film as well as its narrative, which seems a bit too exposition-dependent and artificial. Director Christopher Nolan and his film The Dark Knight were infamously snubbed by the Academy in 2009, while other professional guild actually managed to nominate them for their respective big prize. Therefore his rather progressive style of filmmaking evidently does not look compromising and showy enough to the many members of Academy.
So I have a few questions to ask you regarding its potential in the awards season:
1. How have the industry professionals reacted to the film Inception? Are they impressed by it at all?
2. Do you think Inception will get a Best Picture nomination and a nod for director Christopher Nolan at the Oscars?
3. Generally speaking, is Christopher Nolan held in high regard by people in film industry?
My thoughts on these questions after the jump.
There are a couple of concepts to consider here when talking Inception and Oscar. ¬†The first is that the Academy are notoriously stubborn by nominating, or voting for, films the public foists upon them. We call this the “shoulds.” ¬†When there is a lot of pressure, I have noticed, the Academy tends to go its own way if they don’t like the movie that much. ¬†In the past, films like this would be put mostly in the effects categories. ¬†Recent examples I can think of are The Matrix and maybe even the Bourne Identity. ¬†Neither had the same kind of fan base as Inception (and Nolan).
The other thing to consider is the Dark Knight’s snub. ¬†Because of that, the Academy actually changed its rules to accomodate ten nominees. ¬†The very next year Avatar was up. ¬†It was well reviewed, made more money than any other film ever – but yet, it still failed to win under those conditions. ¬†My theory is that it wasn’t even a close call; The Hurt Locker had it all the way. ¬†But please let’s not go there.
So those are the variables involved. ¬†But now let’s talk about the movie. ¬†What is Inception? ¬†It is a film ahead of its time. ¬†It is bravura filmmaking of the highest order. ¬†It is beautifully made, melancholy (I SO disagree about the lack of emotion therein) — but most importantly, it brought people to the theater to see something new. ¬†The only real drag about Inception’s Oscar chances is that it was screened for a select few bloggers first, who then threw around the word “masterpiece” (raises hand). ¬†Then the critics saw it. ¬†As I’ve said before, the critics are the elders of the tribe and they don’t particularly take kindly to this sort of cockblocking action. ¬†Thus, their reaction was not what it might have been otherwise. ¬†And THEIR reaction, not OUR reaction, is what matters when the seeds of a Best Picture contender are being sewn.
Once those reviews have released, the bloggers take it from there.
All of this to say that the roll out for the film ensured that it would be an “us” vs. “them.”
However, pushing all of that nonsense aside for a minute, here is what I know about the movie. ¬†It is innovative and thrilling in a way few films are. ¬†What people tend to miss about Nolan’s genius as a director is that they are somehow trying to pigeonhole him as a Cameron or a Scorsese or a Spielberg. ¬†What they don’t realize is that he’s a Nolan. ¬†He’s breaking the mold. ¬†What was great about The Dark Night wasn’t the script, particularly. ¬†It was his coloring of the traditional comic book tale and his grasp of the camera and the action sequences. ¬†In twenty years time, Nolan’s thumbprint will be readily visible in all of his films.
Inception is a film for right now. ¬†Like Avatar, we live in fractured realities all of the time. ¬†We have the real world and we have the virtual world. ¬†We are also not confined to our own geographical location anymore because we converse all of the time with each other from every corner of the globe. ¬†We are a more international community than we ever have been. ¬†It is crazy to make sense of what our culture is now. ¬†Inception seems to tap into this.
The other thing to remember is that it is an original work at a time when studios are gun shy about letting anyone with an original script fly on their dime. ¬†We’re seeing more sequels than ever before and when they aren’t sequels they have been audience-tested to death to ensure maximum profit — aka, dumbed down. ¬†Inception breaks all of those rules. ¬†When you make The Dark Knight’s kind of BO, you have the freedom to do something like this. ¬†Nolan had his shot and he took it.
It used to be that Oscar and the general public were not that far off in terms of tastes. ¬†But Hollywood has changed. ¬†Films are aimed at a much younger demographic, where the Academy tend to be an older, more adult demographic. ¬†Still, you couldn’t win Best Picture in decades past without the public support. ¬†The AMPAS has pretty much given up on that idea, as mainstream Hollywood films for the general public suck so hard lately. ¬†Therefore, public approval doesn’t matter much.
What matters is, did they respond to it? ¬†Did they love it? Did they GET it. ¬†The last one is Inception’s biggest hurdle for a win. ¬†Understanding the basic plot is one thing. ¬†When people tell me they got Inception the first time around I always think: but you weren’t looking deep enough. ¬†Most Academy members will not see the film twice. ¬†And even if they did, winning Best Pic is a long shot.
I have decided that my love for Inception need not necessarily bleed into the Oscar race. ¬†It is beyond that for me. ¬†It is still the best film released this year, followed closely by Toy Story 3. ¬†But its Oscar journey will be a tough one. It is a slam dunk nominee. ¬†With ten slots, you can bet the bank it will be one of them. ¬†Director, most certainly. ¬†You don’t see a movie like Inception, completely thought up and executed by Nolan, not recognized for its directing. ¬†Writing? ¬†Possibly. ¬†Original scripts are few and far between. It’s a much easier category to crack than adapted.
The techs are also in the bank: art direction, cinematography, score, maybe costume, editing.
It is a grand acting ensemble, which may mean it gets a SAG ensemble nod. ¬†Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio are your two best bets for acting nods. ¬†I don’t know which, if any, will be nominated and you need acting nods to WIN Best Pic.
Okay, now I’ve given my thoughts, take it away AD readers.