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VIDEO: How 'Inception' Could Benefit From Christopher Nolan Guilt

Oscarology entrepreneur Tom O'Neil sat me down with Pete Hammond at the Hollywood Museum to quarrel about best picture odds, seated one floor above Hannibal Lecter's actual cell (a museum exhibit). Edited excerpts from our 15-minute chat:

O'Neil: I don't agree that King's Speech is going to win!

Hammond: They are lemmings now in the Motion Picture Academy, they are following critics awards...Slumdog Millionaire, No Country for Old Men...very atypical movies made favorites because [critics' awards] served to get the Academy to actually look at those screeners.

Appelo: I just see [the King's Speech/Social Network contest] as teetering on a rock like in Road Runner cartoons.

Hammond: What if they split the vote and something comes in with heart, soul, that really knocks the Academy out, something like The Fighter [opening Friday]?

Appelo: The Fighter is a real spoiler here. Talk about heart. It's also got subversive comedy.

O'Neil: But it doesn't feel important! Inception feels important. It's possible Christopher Nolan could win DGA and suddenly we see a sweep....this is a man with a big IOU in this town, and a wonderful movie.

Hammond: They owe Alfred Hitchcock...do they really owe Christopher Nolan?

O'Neil: They changed the whole Oscar voting system to accommodate 10 movies 'cause they snubbed his last movie [The Dark Knight].

Hammond: I'm not so sure that they all understood Inception enough to give it the best picture.

O'Neil: If Toy Story 3 wins L.A. Film Critics, is it in the race [for best picture]?

Hammond: The Academy at large still is not ready to vote for an animated picture or a documentary--Waiting for Superman could wind up in the mix...It's gonna be a long, long shot.

Appelo: It's a long game. It's inevitable that marijuana will be legal, that gay marriage will be legal and that animated best pictures will be legal. It's gonna happen.