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."
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Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, is one of the entertainment industry's most experienced and trusted experts about the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. He started on the awards beat in 2001, writing for independent websites including his own ScottFeinberg.com before joining the Los Angeles Times and then THR, for which he writes “The Race” blog, which won the LA Press Club’s National Entertainment Journalism Award for best entertainment blog of 2012-2013. A voting member of both the Broadcast Film Critics' Association and Broadcast Television Journalists Association, he is also writing a book about film history for young people for which he has interviewed more than 500 high-profile Hollywood figures whose careers span the silent era through the present.
Follow Scott on Twitter at twitter.com/scottfeinberg.