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Oscar picks for Inception (no spoilers)

We saw Inception last night. Here are my predictions for its Oscars:


Will win?

Best Picture


Director (Christopher Nolan )


Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio)


Supporting Actress (Marion Cotillard)


Supporting Actor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt )


Special Effects




Original Screenplay (Christopher Nolan )


Score (Hans Zimmer)




Sound Editing




Art Direction


That’s twelve nominations. Titanic was nominated for 14, Avatar for 9. Inception is certainly better than either of those two movies, not that that has anything to do with it.

I’m not saying I agree with the Academy’s decisions here. I don’t think Marion Cotillard deserves a nomination, and I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was very good in this, will win to reward him for playing humans with decent haircuts in indie movies after “3rd Rock from the Sun.” But then you have to ask why Ellen Page didn’t get a nomination. Sometimes I just don’t understand the Academy!

But Inception is an excellent movie. Much better — in my opinion! — than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which I thought was a mess rescued by Heath Ledger’s performance. I also liked it better than Nolan’s The Prestige, a movie I liked a lot even though in the end the plot cheated. As for Memento, well, that movie is just special. Inception is special, too: a Hollywood movie of its sort (no spoilers here!) that actually works. It is conventional enough that you’ll predict some large-stroke stuff, it’s arbitrary enough in its rules that you’ll feel it’s all a bit weightless, and it’s confusing enough that you’ll leave not sure if it followed its own rules (I think it does). But it’s well-imagined and extremely well-told. It’s The Matrix with a brain.

M. Night Shyamalan must be kicking himself that he didn’t come up with the idea of Inception so that he could direct it and really f*ck it up.

Screenrant’s page on Inception is nothing but spoilers, but it usefully goes through the film’s rules and narrative. Read it after you see the movie…

[Later that day] Here’s a Donald Clark’s thoughtful appreciation of the movie, also full of spoilers (via Seb Schmoller).

[Later that day] I put in “screenplay” twice. D’oh. I meant to include cinematography. So, I fixed it.

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17 Responses to “Oscar picks for Inception (no spoilers)”

  1. We saw it last night too. An excellent film and a hugely entertaining movie. But, it frustrates me to no end the extent to which I’ve read how confusing the movie is. I saw it with my 12 year old son and one of his buddies. They completely understood the premise and had no problem with an ending that is open to interpretation.

    It scares me to think that all the tits and explosions movies have left so many film goers unable to deal with anything other than simple, linear narrative.

  2. On the other hand, Jonathan, the movie is a big hit. So, maybe the boobs ‘n’ bombs movies haven’t entirely debased us.

    Have you read Steve Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You? He argues that mainstream culture has gotten much more capable of — and insistent on — complex narratives. E.g., he compares the complexity of, I think, Hill Street Blues with The Sopranos.

  3. You confused me on this Monday morning…I thought maybe the nominations had occurred and were obscured by the Wikileaks story. Grrr.

    In any case, I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m looking forward to it this weekend, especially since you say Joseph Gordon-Levitt gave an Oscar-winning performance (or, his hair did). I love the kid. Ever seen “Manic”?

  4. Even better than “Manic” was “Brick” – JGL has been ignored for too long. One of the most intelligent and unique noir films ever made.

    BTW: Amy and I have been arguing about your post all day David. We both agree that Inception should be nominated, but weren’t sure it should win. Then we tried to think back to what else would be nominated, and besides Toy Story 3, could not think of a single film from the past year.


  6. I read that they originally tried to get for JGL’s role the only actor who might have been better in the role because he’s dreamy in every role: James Franco. (I didn’t see Manic, but I did see Brick.)

    By the way, Jillian, the Academy’s rules apparently now permit it to nominate for Best Picture movies that do _not_ have Leo in them. Crazy, I know, but there you go.

  7. WHAT, David? They’ve gone rogue.

    James Franco is indeed dreamy, but my crush on JGL originates from 10 Things I Hate About You ;) You must see Manic, and in return, I will see Brick.

  8. I’ve been disappointed in the Academy ever since they failed to nominate Titanic for Best Picture every single year since 1998. But speaking of Franco, he may have turned down the role of Arthur for this:

    The Green Goblin as Allen Ginsberg? That may be more baffling than Inception.

  9. I will see Manic if you’ll see Winter’s Bone, and then we can agree not to see any of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies (“Return of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,”” Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Meets the Boy with James Franco Tattoo,” ” Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Goes Hawaiian”) together.

    And I would never have picked Franco for Ginsburg, except in the sense that I would pick him for every role ever, and sometimes see him even when I close my eyes so I won’t have to look at the pictures of him I’ve snipped from the newspaper and hung all around my tiny apartment, especially the ones where I cut out Leo’s head from the Titanic screen shots and replaced them with my James Franco Dragon Tattoo.

  10. DEAL.

    Man, we should compare apartments sometime, mine’s just like that, but with JGL in place of Franco.

  11. David, an article to expand your appreciation of the great Franco. Could I suggest that the Warhol inspired photo might be a great template for a tattoo?:

  12. Dan, you of all people should know that I simply have no room left for more tattoos!

    Great piece on Franco, by the way. Thanks for the link. And I note there are zero comments on the article … because, really, who is worthy of commenting on James Franco?

    It does put me in mind of a post that needs to be written: James Franco Jokes, along the lines of Chuck Norris jokes. Or maybe, James Franco Kicks Chuck Norris’ Ass jokes. E.g.:

    James Franco turns Chuck Norris’ roundhouse kick back on him with a meta-roundhouse kick.

    Chuck Norris cracks walnuts in his six pack … and obediently feeds them to James Franco.

  13. James Franco as the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” meme for a new generation? But then again, I heard James Franco is a one man posse.

  14. The meme is up:

  15. Never count Marion Cotillard out, in any movie, any year, for an Oscar nomination. Remember what people thought in 2008? Julie Christie was the shoo-in? Guess again. Cotillard will get nominations, and more nominations, during her career.

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