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Why 'Inception' Can Still Win Best Picture

No, it's not just some crazy dream: Inception could win the Oscar, and Chris Beachum has the best argument yet.

First, check out the new Inception featurette, about to hit theatres Dec. 31 -- a more effective bit of marketing than when they sent pundits copies of the screenplay in a little metallic box a couple weeks ago.

But the Inception-wins scenario is more intriguing. Think about it: Despite the fact that few expect Leonardo DiCaprio to get his third Oscar nom of the decade (after 2007's Blood Diamond and 2005's The Aviator), Inception was on four out of seven THR critics' 10-best lists, only two less than frontrunner The Social Network. And Kirk Honeycutt, Justin Lowe and Ray Bennett ranked Inception Numero Uno.

"There is no question that Inception will be a best picture nominee," says Beachum. More significantly, it could be the most-nominated, which statistically correlates with the big win. "It is virtually guaranteed nine nominations (picture, director, original screenplay, cinematography, editing, original score, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects)." He throws in art direction, costume design and makeup as maybes.

With 10 Critics Choice and four Globe noms in the bag, WGA and DGA honors seem likely to Beachum -- "and the PGA loves to honor box office successes." This could be crucial, in the logic of Beachum's pundit's-dream level, because he thinks the trend of indie Oscars (The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men) is over, and this time a blockbuster will win. Why not The Social Network? "TSN is admired by many but loved by few." (Count me among the few.) He thinks it's this year's Up in the Air. And he calls The King's Speech a forgettable B picture "that reminds me of the reaction ot another British best picture nominee -- The Queen."

All I can say is, if there is an Inception stampede, please don't let the heart-shredding performance of Marion Cotillard get ignored. Has she the ghost of a chance?

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