Feb 7, 2011

[Spoiler Alert] Best Picture Nominees #1: Inception

Looking back at this year in movies, the film landscape seems to be scattered with tons of good-not-great movies, and the nominees for best picture this year makes the Academy's decision to expand the category all the more ridiculous.  We at Tableau Your Mind will be looking back at this year's best picture nominees in as quick a fashion as possible, and hopefully bitter in-fighting will ensue.

First up is Inception, a film that suffers from what we like to call "Avatar Syndrome."  That is, it's a visually stunning and fun movie that is hindered by the pretentiousness of the director.  With Avatar, James Cameron harshed everyone's buzz by constantly talking about how original and innovative the storyline was and how his amazing new technology was changing the landscape of modern film.  The movie is gorgeous, but the storyline is trite, many of the characters one-dimensional, and antagonists so evil they're more cartoonish than the doe-eyed N'avi.  Let's call a spade a spade.
Ellen Page is FALLING! Someone catch Ellen Page!
Inception is similarly afflicted. It's beautiful, and a lot of the ideas
presented are pretty thought-provoking.  The main premise is that controlling peoples' dreams means influencing their lives, and many of the scenes really play well with the idea. One scene in particular, where the water from the 'kick' seeps into the dream, is particularly stunning. However, this is basically a heist movie. It's a lot of exposition to get people to the final dream-weaving/idea-placing where everything comes to a head. There is good acting (particularly from Marion Cotillard, who gives one of her best English-speaking performances to date), but there needs to be more than talented actors to make a good movie. There needs to be superior material. The characters in Inception are about as fleshed out as the ones in Mark Wahlberg's The Italian Job. And that's okay, because that was a fun movie.
Am I dreaming?
It's really only a problem when people (including Nolan) start interpreting and talking about the layers of reality present in the movie. Stop talking, Christopher Nolan. We like you. Do not become pretentious. Let's enjoy the movie and stop talking about the realistic interpretations of dreamscapes, because when people do that the movie falls apart.  Nobody has the sorts of literal dreams that apparently Cillian Murphy has.  People dream about things like doing laundry or falling. They wouldn't really care if a world isn't fleshed out completely. That's ridiculous.

The movie is really beautiful, and there are some ideas that are interesting.  There are nice moments, and there is a certain emotional resonance in the Cotillard-DiCaprio storyline, but for best picture there needs to be more.

Best Picture: No
Good Movie: Yes
Score: 7/10
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