Will ‘Inception’ finally get Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscar past first base?
I’m crazy about Oscar. I’m addicted to him. Totally hooked. I’ve read books on him, written (too many?) blog posts about him, followed his every move, spent countless hours trying to predict what he’ll do next. I’m like a stalker who just can’t get enough. And still, I just don’t get him.
Neither, so far, has Leonardo DiCaprio. But it’s not completely DiCaprio’s fault. Sure he’s never given that runaway, undeniable Academy Award-caliber performance. He’s never even been a frontrunner. But sometimes Oscar has such terrible taste in actors and actresses. He’ll go home with Hilary Swank (twice) but not with Peter O’Toole or Glenn Close or Julianne Moore or Ed Harris or Johnny Depp or Sigourney Weaver or Annette Bening or Laura Linney or Ralph Fiennes or Edward Norton or Jude Law. He’ll flirt with them, but he won’t go all the way. I swear, that guy is such a tease.
But if the early buzz on Inception holds up, next year he just might be ready to give in to DiCaprio.
It certainly would have taken him long enough. The star of Titanic, formerly the highest-grossing film of all time, has been Academy Award-nominated three times (for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator and Blood Diamond). He’s toplined two Best Picture winners (Titanic and The Departed) and starred in two others (The Gangs of New York and The Aviator). He’s a rarity in Hollywood: an actor and a movie star, capable of carrying films that earn money and excellent reviews.
I can’t remember any DiCaprio film since Titanic with as much pre-release hype (the good kind) as Inception. The Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi action thriller opens on July 16, and already it’s getting some of the best reviews of the careers of everyone involved. And when you consider Nolan’s credits (which include Memento and The Dark Knight) as well as DiCaprio’s Oscar-nominated-and/or-winning supporting cast — Ken Watanabe, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Berenger, Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Caine — that’s no minor accomplishment.
The film, whose confusing plot involves a thief of subconscious ideas looking for redemption, has a 100% rating so far on Rotten Tomatoes, based on eight reviews (as of July 6). Though biggies like the New York Times and Roger Ebert have yet to weigh in, Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers has, and he’s breathless in his enthusiasm.
The mind-blowing movie event of the summer arrives just in time to hold back the flow of Hollywood sputum that’s been sliming the multiplex. Inception…will be called many things, starting with ‘James Bond Meets The Matrix.’ You can feel the vibe of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in it, and Nolan’s own Memento and The Dark Knight. But Inception glows with a blue-flame intensity all its own. Nolan creates a dream world that he wants us to fill with our own secrets. I can’t think of a better goal for any filmmaker.”
Will others concur? Probably. New raves seem to come in every day. And Oscar? The film’s sci-fi bent might hurt its Academy Award chances more than its mid-summer release date. No sci-fi film has ever won Best Picture (though Avatar presumably came close), but as The Hurt Locker, which was released in June of 2009, proved in March, it’s possible to launch a Best Picture frontrunner — and eventual winner — before December.
As for DiCaprio, what can I say? Depp and O’Toole aside, no other previously nominated actor is more deserving of Oscar’s company. He already has the momentum of having starred in an early 2010 hit, the Martin Scorcese-directed Shutter Island. And if Sandra Bullock can score for a middling effort like The Blind Side, winning for a unaninimously acclaimed film directed by the guy who got Heath Ledger a posthumous prize should be a cinch.
The Oscar race officially begins July 16.