It doesn't seem possible that basically this time last year, I was taking my seat for the film I anticipated the most; the film that people truly doubted the gravity and weight of, the film that was sorely labelled as "similar to 'The Matrix'". In July 2010, Christopher Nolan introduced the world to 'Inception' and nothing has been the same ever since.
'Inception' married psychology, narrative and art to make the most spectacular screen experience and not one single film has come close to it since it's release. Granted, there has been many a good film in 2011, but no picture has been as ambitious, as rewarding, as demanding as Nolan's epic. Now not every film needs to take this formula; Christ, I love Michael Bay so I know fully 'intellectual' mainstream cinema is still a long way away, but what Nolan has proved is that intelligent blockbusters are a possibility; that audiences want to be challenged and feel involved, and that their effort would be noticed and congratulated, and yet it seems that Nolan is never truly congratulated personally.
After he was so brutally snubbed at the Academy Awards and not given a Best Director nomination (which is still the biggest travesty in cinema as of recent), it seems all his works are never really appreciated by the heads of the industry. The majority of film fans praise Nolan frequently but the same gratitude is missed out by the big boys of Hollywood. In fact, I think Hollywood fears the British in the film industry because we so frequently show them up. Take a look at what I believe to be amongst the best films of 2011:
- 'Source Code' (dir: Duncan Jones) - Probably the best film of the year so far
- 'Attack the Block' (dir: Joe Cornish)
- 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' (dir: David Yates)
- 'X-Men: First Class' (dir: Matthew Vaughn)
And so on. It seems if the Americans really want to make a successful Sci-Fi Thriller, they need a Brit, and I'm not saying that's because we are stereotyped to be "more intelligent", I think it's actually because of the limitations in the UK film industry, it causes the imagination to run riot when confronted with American studio money. Do you really think Nolan would have been able to make 'Inception' if he hadn't of made Warner Bros. $1 billion with 'The Dark Knight'? or have made this film with funding from Film 4 and the UK Film Council? I highly doubt it.
Nolan certainly deserves more praise and recognition from the Academies and the Executives; he's the most consistent British filmmaker working today and I honestly believe he is the Stanley Kubrick of our generation. He's a director whose not afraid to take risks, to try something new, to push the boundaries and break away from the norm. He, just like Kubrick, is a renegade of passion, determination and skill, and it's so clearly obvious he makes films because he loves cinema, not the lovely pay packet at the end of it all.
'Inception' was without a doubt the best film of 2010 and probably of the last 5 years. The last film to truly 'blow my mind' apart from 'Inception' was Michael Haneke's masterpiece 'Cache' ('Hidden') in 2005 which stands as my favourite film of all-time alongside Woody Allen's exquisite love-letter 'Manhattan' (1979).
I've seen 'Inception' six times now; four at the cinema and twice on Blu-Ray and I love it even more each time I watch it. Like 'Cache', 'Manhattan' and my other favourite films of all time; 'Juno' (2007), 'Toy Story' (1995) and 'Groundhog Day' (1993), I get a huge surge of satisfaction from repeat viewings, and one year on, I'm happy to report that 'Inception' is now amongst my favourite films of all-time.
It is simply a masterpiece.