Inside 'Inception': The Last-Minute 8-Oscar-Bait Featurette
For an $823 million movie, clearly the year's most spectacular and original, Inception has one lowish profile. So here's Warner Bros.' new five-minute featurette to keep the eight- Oscar-nom dream alive.
It's a good campaign micromovie, but a great one would have packed in more new tidbits of info along with the Christopher Nolan and Leo DiCaprio soundbites. But the main Oscar obstacle may be that the movie's eye-popping virtues are out of step with the year's trend toward snuggly smallness.
"I think what happened is the more actor-driven movie [The King's Speech] trumped the pyrotechnic movies, the more eye-candy movies," says one DGA award winner after Tom Hooper shockingly won. "Sometimes a two-hander is more difficult than a lot of people falling off a building in CGI." Even when the CGI is innovatively blended with live action and the effects are mind-bendingly blended with Nolan's multilevel chess game of a script, which won a WGA award -- widely seen as a consolation prize after his seemingly in-the-bag Oscar directing nom went to the Coens.
Inception is a longish shot for best screenplay, a middling shot for cinematography and score (people do love that nine-time nom Hans Zimmer), a longer shot for best picture, a possible for art direction and favored by both Gurus o'Gold and Gold Derby polls to win sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. And if it sweeps, this red-faced pundit will be called on the carpet and explain why.
My main obstacle in betting on Inception is: it's been too big for too long. $100 million-plus paydays for True Grit, The King's Speech, Black Swan and The Fighter make jaws drop and shatter all over Hollywood. But what's another $100 million for a almost-a-billion behemoth that was news last summer? When Nolan was snubbed, an outraged fan tweeted, "Hey that's old ppl [people] for you." But the problem was also Inception being old news.
This featurette should help reboot Inception's news cycle. But one mystery lingers on. As the DGA winner, a Nolan and Inception admirer, puts it, "What were they doing in that van falling off the bridge, anyway?" The film's multidream format needed firmer, clearer rules, like the ones governing his breakthrough smash Memento (screened with a Guillermo Del Toro/Nolan Q&A Feb. 17 and released on Blu-Ray Feb. 22).
A month ago, pundit Tom O'Neil argued that Nolan could sweep DGA and the Oscars. Pundit Pete Hammond said, "I'm not so sure that they all understand Inception enough to give it the best picture." Too true. If Nolan were a standup comic, his act would be described as "too hip for the room."
Follow THR's The Race Awards blog on Twitter: @timappelo. Feedback, brickbats, shameless lobbying to: Tim.Appelo@thr.com.
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Scott, whose THR coverage appears both in print and online, is one of the film industry's most experienced and trusted awards analysts, and possesses one of the strongest track records at forecasting the Oscars. His best showings came in 2006 and 2013, when he called 21 of 24 winners; he was also the only pundit to project long-shot best picture nominations for The Reader (2008), The Blind Side (2009) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011). An alumnus of Brandeis University, he previously ran "The Feinberg Files" blog for the Los Angeles Times. He is now a voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, and is writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 350 high-profile Hollywood figures.
Gregg contributes awards news, features online, and "The Race" column in print.
Tim contributes awards news and features, both in print and online.