Steven Spielberg, like Nolan, was a popular filmmaker whose directing was not acknowledged until Schindler’s List (he got his second directing award for Saving Private Ryan). I suspect that if Nolan ever makes a “serious” film – or the sort of film that the Academy thinks is “serious” – he might get some Oscar love. For the record, Nolan’s films are very serious, and they’re also groundbreaking, imaginative, unique genre pictures that redefine their genres.
Inception is an entertaining puzzle; the dream-within-a-dream (movie-within-a-movie) multilayer structure is demanding. Teasing apart the layers, keeping the whole tangled web straight requires more attention than your run-of-the-mill industrial espionage caper. Inception is smart and original – a nonderivative, non-remake, non-sequel, brand-new thing that’s constructed out of familiar pieces assembled in an uncommonly imaginative way.
Nolan’s next film is a third Batman movie, and unless it’s set in World War II, it’s not gonna cut the Oscar mustard either. Too bad for Nolan, but great for thinking movie audiences who like to be entertained and challenged.