The movie's not out until Friday, and the Academy Awards aren't for another eight months, but Inception is (mostly) getting the kind of over-the-top raves that demand recklessly premature Oscar speculation (especially on a deadly slow news day during a stinker-filled summer). How much hardware will Christopher Nolan take home next February 27? We saw the film last night and, after the jump, you'll find our 100 percent reliable, spoiler-free assessment of Inception's awards chances in all relevant categories.
Because the Academy's expansion of the category to ten slots was partially owed to the shit fit over The Dark Knight's snub in 2008, we'd be surprised if Nolan's follow-up weren't nominated. But can it win? The Oscars are historically allergic to science-fiction, so we say no.
It's only July, but it's probably fair to say that not many of this year's movies will have as many moving parts as Inception. For the technical feat alone, we could see Nolan being nominated. But again, directors of sci-fi-flavored popcorn movies rarely win.
Leonardo DiCaprio is great, as usual. But he doesn't really do all that much heavy lifting in Inception, so it would be weird if this were the movie to win him his first Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page are fine, but theirs aren't really the sort of parts that get anyone awards (or even nominations).
Best Original Screenplay
The Academy doesn't mind a head trip here — Charlie Kaufman has fared well in this category (he won for Eternal Sunshine in 2004), and Nolan's own screenplay for Memento got a nod in 2001. But Inception is pretty light on human emotion — will voters actually reward a script that didn't make them feel anything?
Best Art Direction
Inception's supervising art director Frank Walsh had to art-direct at least three more levels of reality than anybody else this year. He could maybe win this one.
Like New York's David Edelstein says in his review, "Although the different levels [of reality] look the same (too bad), the gimmick allows Nolan to have three clocks ticking down instead of one, and the editor, Lee Smith, has cut among them in ways so ostentatious that he’s all but sewn up this year’s editing Oscar." It's basically a miracle he didn't drop dead in the Avid suite.
In a couple of shots, they make Ken Watanabe look like he's about 10,000 years old, but they're really short.
Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer's score is more than just the fart sounds you hear in the trailer. We bet he'll get a nod.
Best Sound Editing/Mixing
Mixing and editing the audio of four different states of consciousness certainly couldn't have been easy. But did anyone besides us and Jeffrey Wells have trouble hearing the dialogue at last night's screening?
Best Visual Effects
Inception's effects are awesome, brain-twisting, and always story-serving. They'll have heavy competition from Alice in Wonderland and Tron Legacy, though.
Lots of cool aerial shots and impressively lensed cityscapes. Should be good for one more nomination.
Vulture's infallible prediction: Inception will win four Oscars, all in technical categories.