Best Picture Nominee Review: Inception

About 9 years ago Christopher Nolan began working on his dream project (and I mean that in more one way).  His dream project, in the form of Inception, finally came to the big screen in 2010 and definitely lived up to the long wait and all of the hype.  In essence, Inception is the culmination of Christopher Nolan's entire career.  Inception may star Leonardo DiCaprio but even the pre-release posters and trailers knew this was the Christopher Nolan movie.

Inception follows Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), a dream thief who is on the run after he is blamed for his wife's death.  He is offered by a business head the chance to have his crimes erased if he is able to pull off inception (planting an idea in someone's mind).  So Cobb, of course, agrees and finds a team that will be able to pull off the impossible.

Christopher Nolan single-handedly directed and wrote this film (he even co-produced the film).  His presence oozes from every single second of the film.  Inception has the perfect use of an un-reliable narrator that Nolan used in his breakthrough film, Memento.  It has the twists and turns of Nolan's debut film, Following.  It has the great acting of Nolan's first studio film, Insomnia.  It has the amazing action sequences of Nolan's Batman series.  However, most importantly Nolan takes from The Prestige, the unique and memorable ending.  In The Prestige (a film about magicians), Nolan creates an ending that involves misdirection.  He is acting just like one of the characters in his film, a magician.  In Inception, Nolan takes this same technique an adapts it to his dream thieves by literally pulling off inception on the audience in the film's ending.  This is Nolan's best film to date, a culmination of a career, and a true director's tour de force (what I am really saying is the Academy members should resign for their stupidity in snubbing Nolan).

The acting, although not the strength of the film, is pretty good.  Leonardo DiCaprio is a good lead for the film.  He makes the film less confusing by making the audience able to invest in him.  He is able to nail his few emotional scenes, but the role is not as good as his other performance from the year, Shutter Island.  Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard are the best of the supporting players.  Murphy doesn't have much screen time in the film but nails his final scene where he gets emotional with his dying father.  Cotillard, on the otherhand, is an always looming presence.  She is required to be scary at some points and princess-like in others.  Cotillard absolutely nails this mix and easily becomes the emotional center of the film.  Other good supporting performers include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and Michael Caine in a very short cameo (but when is he not awesome?).  Levitt and Hardy create a great chemistry and their banter quickly steals every scene.  Levitt gets extra credit for all of the insane stunt work he pulled off.  Ellen Page is only okay but the role doesn't allow her to be any better.  It is also nice to see Tom Berenger and the late Pete Postlethwaite in cameos.

The behind the camera aspects of the film may be the best of any film this year.  Let's start off with the shamefully Oscar-snubbed editor, Lee Smith.  How does the film work without Lee Smith's contributions?  Easy answer, it doesn't.  Lee Smith makes all of the crazy things that happen in the heist part of the film comprehensible when they should not be at all.  Wally Pfister (as always in Nolan films) makes some spectacular imagery come to life with his cinematography.  The art direction and (surprisingly) the costume design (because contemporary costumes don't normally catch my eye) are also top notch.  Of special note is the hotel art direction as in one of those sequences the art directors built a set that could defy gravity (an amazing accomplishment).  The visual effects and the sound design are also the best of any Nolan film to date (He normally does not rely on this but is forced to with this film because of the complex ideas presented in it.)  However, most impressive is Hans Zimmer's score, which actually is built into the plot of the film.  It is easily the best score in a film since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Christopher Nolan creates a true masterpiece with Inception.  The film features Nolan at his best and the greatest ending in film history.


Inception is nominated for 8 Academy Awards including:
-Best Picture
-Best Original Screenplay
-Best Original Score
-Best Cinematography
-Best Art Direction
-Best Visual Effects
-Best Sound Mixing
-Best Sound Editing 

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